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Agnee: In Retrospect

Today, Agnee is probably most famous amongst the mainstream Indian audience because of their composition ‘Aahatein‘, the uber-popular theme for MTV Splitsvilla. So much so, that a lot of people, despite knowing the lyrics by heart, may not even remember the actual title of the song, simply calling it ‘The Splitsvilla theme‘. A tad unfair, we would think, especially considering how beautiful this song actually is. One might go even further to say that associating such a band with a tawdry reality show involving dramatized hook-ups and break-ups is yet another act of injustice to their music.

Nonetheless, MTV does have one redeeming factor for this very song:

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MTV did reward us with a televised collaboration between the bandmembers of Agnee – Mohan and Koco, along with music director Pritam on guitar. But wait, it gets better! Not only does MTV, unlike Bollywood, realize the immense importance of the bass guitar (read about our dissapointment about the same here), they brought in one of India’s finest – none other than Rahul Ram from Indian Ocean to play with them!   

Musically, Agnee were as tight as they were in their original, electric version of the song. Mohan’s vocals never fail to astound, and Koco, seen with his Taylor acoustic guitar instead of his usual vermilion PRS electric, too delivered some great chops. Mohan too was strumming his open frame Yamaha guitar, much like that of Susmit Sen (guitarist from Indian Ocean – check out his solo album launch stuff here).

Arguably, one could say that the acoustic set sounded a lot better – because it is only in an acoustic environment where one can truly test a guitarist’s mettle, away from pedals and distortion and other effects. And together, they all continued to deliver to us a fantastic piece. 

But that doesn’t mean their other stuff pales in comparison. Anything but. Lets look at an older classic – ‘Ujale Baaz‘ :

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Besides just being lyrically poignant, the juxtaposition of some clean acoustic plucking within an otherwise distorted electric riff-tastic background adds a very tasteful touch. The somber nature of the song is further accentuated by the edginess of  the electric guitar as well as the addition of traditional percussion during the transition between verse and chorus. Clearly, Agnee is well versed with combining Eastern and Western musical elements, as established by the wah-wah and tremolo effects on the guitar solo, which seem completely at home just before the lines “Kaid hue the hum, kaid se yaari ho gai re“. 

And then there’s yet another song, quite popular at the time of its release, which needs no introduction – “Sadho Re“. Hats off to Agnee for some really groovy instrumental work, once again striking that delicate balance between acoustic and electric guitars, without forgeting to add the thumping drums and bass that they have become known for. 

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This year, they will be celebrating their fifth anniversary as a cohesive band. We only hope that Agnee continues to keep up the good work, not just with their Bollywood commitments, but also with their own independent work. A little birdie tells us that we can expect a new album sometime in mid 2012. I guess we shall just have to wait with bated breath till then.

In the meantime, if you ever come across any of them, do ask them about their ‘Groongy‘ and ‘Kashi-yatra‘ songs for some shits and giggles.

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