Viking from Bombay
A long time back a few of his friends had visited Nepal and from them he came to know Nepal as the ‘junkie’s haven’ where hash and coke were sold aplenty for the price of beans. He is here for the first time after almost a decade of such an impression and he finds it appealing for an entirely different reason.
“Being civilised not only means building infrastructure but being able to keep things tidy. And I’ve never seen things tidier,” says Neeraj Sridhar, frontman of the band Bombay Vikings. He is the one responsible for making our young ones hum and dance to oldies like Kya soorat hai, Woh chali, to name a few.
Call him the ‘remix guy’ and he sees red. “I’ve been stamped as the remix guy, but I’m proud of the fact that even youngsters love the remakes of the songs that they never even heard of. I’m giving respect to something that was old.”
And people’s criticism doesn’t deter him even a bit in his crusade to revive the timeless classics of yore. “We live in a world where when you do something, people always have to say something negative about it,” he says philosophically about the criticisms that he’s had to face.
He says some people come and tell him ‘Hey guy you play cheap music’. But he has an explanation for that. “Santana plays good music and Bryan Adams is a good guy, and I worship jazz. But our market is different from that of western singers. Jazz-rock didn’t sell earlier, and doesn’t sell even now. It’s become important to incorporate commercial elements and put them in music. All you gotta remember is when you play, you gotta rock the world.”
And his remixes have ever since rocked the musical barcodes along with the refrain Hawa mein udti jaye that has moved along with the winds of change.
“I put a lot of English words in my songs. But we’ve also changed the way we speak in Hindi or Nepali. We should embrace the change. Change is the key to life. The world we live in can’t go on without changes — that’s the juice of life, the sweetest part of life. So if something is old and good, why not polish it further,” he avers.
He talks about the changes his band has undergone since its formation in 1992. Initially, the band was more into rock and jazz as Neeraj himself recalls he was an avid fan of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. They even performed with 10 different rock bands in western Europe. But the band switched to other genres.
How did this rock star land up in the realm of remixes. “When you go thousands of miles away from home, you’ll agree that you’ll remember your home the most. But, wherever you go, music remains a part of your life as it has remained with me. When I left for Sweden, I was just 14 and all that I carried with me were memories of good old music that I’ve cherished as remixes.”
And before you mistakenly think that’s where his crusade ends, he adds jocularly, “I might as well make a remix out of an old Nepali classic that people have forgotten. It’s not that there aren’t versatile artistes in Nepal, the only thing is we’ve not been able to bring them up. I knew a Nepali friend who wrote on the lines of Bob Dylan and composed songs with equal passion and intensity. I don’t know where he is, but he certainly would have been a rock star,” he reminiscences.
This reigning remix star is all set to rock Nepali audience at Dashrath Rangasala along with 1974 AD and Mukut on May 20, 2:00 pm onwards (courtesy North Star — Extra Dry Gin).
“I’ll be playing my own music. I just don’t like the idea of having long hairs and throwing hands just to be called a rock singer. I want interaction from the crowd. I want them to come and sing along with me,” he says.