They've been around for a while now — Oorali — it would be hard to miss them, the 'Oorali experience' they call it. Their Facebook page describes the experience as ‘Like so many things you’ve heard before. And like nothing you've heard before.’
Not everyone relates to them or their style of performance and they are ok with it, because their voice is heard loud and clear among a growing crowd across the country. And they sure have some tales of truth to share with the public. Some might call them quirky, for some they are outspoken and revolutionary, to others they may seem bohemian. Call them whatever one may please but they are the new age masters of unconventional performance.
From the lyrics of their songs to their eye-popping costumes, the on-stage performance is something that has to be seen to be experienced. At an Oorali performance, the audience can be anything they wish to be and the band members reciprocate the feeling. How are they so different?
Their performances are a combination of theatre, visuals, art and singing. They bring world music to the stage by singing in Spanish, Malayalam and English. The instruments they use include the Cajon, the Wombo drum thumps of Latin America, the Djembe of Africa and the Darbouka rings of the Mediterranean desert.
Guitarist Saji Kadampattil says, “Oorali is basically a group of people who have come together from various places. A group that comprises artists from various fields, it also has people who have not exactly learnt a particular art form. It started off as a theatre group and has been performing since 2010.” This band in a way comprises visual artists, writers, singer and musicians.
Saji reminisces about the birth of Oorali and says, “It so happened that a bus became a part of our life during those days. So we reconstructed the bus as our performance space. We redefined the bus, travelled in the bus and performed our plays in it. In between all this, the band ‘Oorali’ took birth. The concept developed as something that was meant to give music to plays, when these were performed with the bus as the venue. Basically, Oorali is the musical production of the theatre group. Right now this band and creating music has become our full-time job, because music reaches the people much faster and easily. We realised there are huge possibilities for striking a better connection through music."
One of their specialities is the performance spaces they pick. It could be a well-lit stage or an open space in between the teeming crowd. “We believe any space where the crowd gathers is apt for a performance. All the public spaces are free spaces,” he adds.
During most of their performances they see to it that they distribute handmade souvenirs to the crowd. “If the budget and space allow us, we will distribute such items. It creates a sort of community feeling for both the crowd and the performers. Otherwise, there is always a huge spectator-performer gap. By interacting with them, we are bridging the crowd and we strongly believe that we are not above our audience. We will not exist if not for them.”