Five years ago, the entire nation couldn’t help holding its head low. Womanhood was ripped and wrapped in a cloak of never-before-seen, brutal, bloody or insane kind of act. Nirbhaya can’t hide into oblivion. However, the incident fuelled four musicians to shout out at the top of voice. INDIVA, an all-woman band was born, with its first composition Suno Meri Baat... hitting the charts in the January of 2013, barely a month since the shock waves of Nirbhaya rocked our collective conscience. Known pianist, music composer and creator Merlin Dsouza, was the front woman also having Vivienne Pocha, the celebrated rock, jazz and blues vocalist. Wait for another day, the team calls on Kerala for the first time with yet another voice for femininity — She for She—Celebrating Womanhood.
INDIVA comes this time ‘redesigning’ the universe with six elements — adding ‘Vibration’ to the existing five. Giving a flashback of events, Merlin begins. “Vivienne and I have been musical friends for long. Together we did Blood Brothers musical — she playing the lead and me, the music director. The Nirbhaya incident propelled me to write Suno... and we both welcomed Shruti Chandana having amazing musical lineages. Aditi has been a great friend and dance exponent. She choreographed Vande Mataram that I composed. Musically, we were always in-sync,” she gushes. Years sailed by. The dark truth remains with no respite to atrocities against women. Here’s where She-for-She moves a notch higher. “Women need to empower women. Hence She-for-She is imperative in today’s world. The atrocities continue, but we stay positive and reach out to the world with our empowered musical leanings. Hoping ‘She’ can inspire ‘She’.” Merlin voices her hopes for a better tomorrow.
Merlin comes on keyboards, Vivienne plays acoustic guitar, Shruti Bhave is on acoustic violin. The three, plus Chandana Bala, are on vocals. Sapne Mane handles drums and percussion. It’s rare for a band, but here cine actor and classical danseuse Aditi Bhagwat performs dance. “Our music is vibrant and reflects India’s cultural diversity. So dance is intrinsic. Aditi has been a favourite with INDIVA as she brings so much vivacity, skill, and grace to the stage. Dance movement tells a story just like songs. It is a great way to connect to the audience emotionally and also for self-expression,” explains Merlin. Vibration got in thus. “Vibration is a phenomenon that generates movement and impulses. It is essential to the core of the earth and our very being. People all over the world connect with each other’s vibes even when there are no words.”
Merlin, dubbed as Lady Rahman of India, is such an accomplished performer with over 400 concerts. FYI, she is regarded as the only pianist after Yaani to perform a live concert at Taj Mahal. She is the music arranger behind B-Town chartbusters You are My Sonia... and Suraj Hua Madham.... Her magical touch was laid upon Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Ram Gopal Varma-directed Road, Prince of Egypt, Bombay Boys and Bus Yun Hi to pick a few. The list of honours she has been accorded with hangs heavy. It spots some coveted fetes like award for Music and Woman Empowerment through Music from World Woman Leadership Congress (WWLC) and nomination for the Karamveer Puraskar Award for the role in music for women empowerment.
Merlin says each instrument denotes their joy and expression as music is a universal language — be it for a she or he. “Guitar gives rhythm and musical movements. Piano keys add symphony orchestrations melody, harmony and more. Violin, being expressive and plaintive, brings forth emotion. Percussion is earthy, groovy. Together, our elements generate harmony, melody, rhythm and oneness.” The show directed by Manoj K. Varghese has a unique lighting pattern set by award-winning light designer Srikanth Cameo. Catch ’em live at the State Media Awards function at Tagore theatre in the capital at 4pm on Tuesday....