Aamir Khan has an ear for music, says Indian Ocean

One of the oldest and most loved bands in Delhi, Indian Ocean has carved a unique identity in the hearts of millions of fans due to its distinctive sound space. Indian Ocean’s compositions are a melange of jazz, rock, folk, Sufi, ecology, mythology and revolution. Formed in the early 80s, Indian Ocean has come a long way and is celebrated for its unique lyrics, melody and songs.

Going strong since the past twenty one years, Indian Ocean saw many highs and lows even as it inspired generations with its new and rich sounds. The band, which comprised Susmit Sen, Amit Kilam, Rahul Ram and the late Asheem Charkavarty, bounced back after losing Charkavarty, and it is soon coming out with its latest album ‘16/330 Khajoor Road’. However, the band does not intend to sell its new album for it has come up with a unique concept of giving away all the songs as free downloads from their official website.

In a free-wheeling chat with Aman Kanth of Spicezee.com, Indian Ocean’s Susmit Sen and Amit Kilam take time out from their busy schedules and talk about their latest album, their compositions and the spirit behind the music of Indian Ocean, at Delhi’s Hard Rock Café, where it recently performed as a part of their five city tour in collaboration with UTV World Movies.

Aman: ‘16/330 Khajoor Road’ is a strange name for an album. Can you elucidate on it?

Amit: It’s the name of our jam-pad in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, where we have been practising for the past fourteen years. It’s a beautiful place, though it is crumbling. History has it that before partition, Faiz Ahmed Faiz used to live in the same place and used to recite his poetry.

Aman: ’16/30 Khajoor Road’ will come out almost five years after your last album ‘Black Friday’. Why such a long break?

Susmit: It was not like we were not doing anything, we were still making music. For the last five years, we were haunted by filmmakers and we did a couple of films which never saw the light of the day. However, we retain the rights of all the songs which we did for these films. Beyond this, we had also come out with a ‘Live In Concert’ (DVD).

Aman: Tell us your experience about working in ‘Peepli Live’?

Susmit and Amit: It was nice, it was good. Last time we did ‘Black Friday’, this time it was ‘Peepli Live’. We had full creative freedom and there was no interference from the director or the producer.

Aman: Recently you performed with Aamir Khan, how was the experience of jamming with the Bollywood star?

Susmit:Aamir plays very well. He has an ear for music. If you take out even one ghungroo from the playing, Aamir can spot the difference. During the launch of the music of ‘Peepli Live’, I asked Aamir whether he would like to play, and he readily agreed. In fact, during the gig, Amit played gabgubi and it was Aamir, who played the drums.

Aman: 21 years and still going strong, what’s the secret behind the consistency of Indian Ocean?

Susmit:(muses) I really don’t know, probably music. What surprises us is that we are not even gay!

Aman: How do you define the music of Indian Ocean?

Susmit:We don’t believe in branding, we call ourselves as Indian Ocean music.

Aman: In a Bollywood crazed nation, do you think mainstream success has eluded Indian Ocean?

Amit: I don’t think so, there is a difference. You see, one is Bollywood and other is the rest. We are the rest and it is uncalled for to compare Bollywood with the rest.

Susmit: What kind of comparison? It’s like comparing Bhimsen Joshi with Himesh Reshammiya. Bhimsen Joshi’s music will live for two hundred years and Himesh Reshammiya’s will last for twenty years.

Aman: With the sudden demise of Asheem Chakravarty, you lost one of the most talented band members of Indian Ocean. How did you cope with the loss and have you been able to find a suitable replacement?

Susmit:(somber) After the sad demise of Asheem, we had to work hard. I will never forget all those who helped us during this hour – Gyan Singh, Sudhir Rekhari, Himanshu Joshi and Tuhin Chakraborty. Though no one can replace Asheem, still, the show must go on.

Aman: Post ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Peepli Live’, will we get to see more of Indian Ocean in Bollywood?

Susmit:That’s not the scene, whosoever loves our music, will approach us. We are not making music for Bollywood.

Aman: Please tell us about your future projects/ upcoming tours?

Susmit:Well, I cannot tell you about projects until they are confirmed. But yes, we are touring in India, promoting our new album in collaboration with UTV World Movies and Hard Rock Café. Apart from Delhi (22nd July), we will perform in Bangalore on 29th July, Pune on 5th August, Mumbai on 6th August and in Hyderabad on 12th August.

After this, we have a long world tour which covers India, US, Canada, Indonesia, China, Singapore and Sweden.


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