Written and directed by music journalist and musician, Arjun S. Ravi and co-produced by OML and Red Bull, “Standing By” is a six part documentary series about the origin and evolution of Independent music in India. As described in every episode – “..this is not the story of popular music in India; it’s about those unpopular few, who rocked out in the face of adversity.” It tells the stories of a lesser known dimension of Indian music and the struggle and persistence of some incredibly badass and remarkably talented musicians.
Each episode documents a different time period covering genres like jazz, electronic, rock and heavy metal. However, if you don’t fancy going through each one of these (though I’d strongly recommend that you do), here are brief overviews on each episode to help you decide!
Chapter 1: Indian Independence and Jazz
You’ve had your history lesson on how we got to independent ruling, now it’s time to learn about the dawn of independent music! This episode goes into the origins of jazz during the early 60s, theinfluence of political agendas, British rock bands and hippie culture. It also features interviews with great musicians such as Louis Banks, narrating charming anecdotes about their experiences during that time.
Chapter 2: The Rise of Beat Music
This one delves into rock during the early 70s, battles with mainstream media and the spawning of new publications. It is about the sheer raw talent and passion that drove these musicians to continue performing through every struggle, be it – the lack of proper equipment, Indian societal pressures (Some things never change)and the growing dislike towards anything “Western”. Also – some back story to a few great bands and a great story involving Led Zeppelin!
Chapter 3: Building of Color
This is about the heavy metal awakening in India; when the rock community began to grow and the metal bands of the north east entered India’s indie scene. Lou Majaw’s subliminal blend of passion and rebellion, the effects of the war, the disheartened yet inspiredmusicians of that time, the growing popularity of “Bangla Rock” and stories of some truly amazing bands!
Chapter 4: Rock N’ Roll Renegades
The late 80s were defined by the emergence of bands like Euphoria, Indus Creed and “rock n’ roll renegades” – Rock Machine. Along with great musicians also came – MTV – which in turn gave rise to the otherwise alien concept of music videos. This episode also features Amit Saigal’s incredible influence on music in India by promoting and encouraging original music from bands who were largely “cover centric” at the time.
Chapter 5: And then, the Internet
This episode is all about the 90s and popularization of the internet; the growth of rock communities, the influence of Gigpad and fun stories about accessing music before the internet. Bands like Zerotell their own charming tales about their bands and how they came to be. Electronic music during the late 90s, remixing, dance music, the growth of psychedelic trance are all covered in this one.
Chapter 6: The Call of Metal
This one is for the metal heads. Rebellion, empowerment, angst and art, all of these contributed largely to India’s heavy metal scene. This episode goes over all the struggles of being an aspiring heavy metal band in India – from the budget constraints to run-ins with their parents and the church, to whom the entire concept of “Heavy Metal” was alien and way beyond their comprehension. It also goes over the emergence and growth of music festivals in India.
Available on: YouTube