While working on my documentary film The Other Way, I came across a film on indie musicians in India called Echoes. I didn’t know who it was by, when and where I could watch it but out of the multitude of videos a healthy social networking life throws up, the trailer of this film caught my interest. There was a screening which I heard about later (again from someone’s tweet) but I missed it and almost forgot about the film.
However, very recently I heard of this new web-series on indie culture called Virtuoso and realised that the team behind it are the same people behind Echoes. And then there were a few mails exchanged and I decided to talk to the man behind Echoes and Virtuoso; Satyarth Singh.
How did it begin? What inspired you to make Virtuoso?
Virtuoso basically came in after Echoes, our first documentary which was on independent musicians of the country. The response and appreciation we got for Echoes wasn’t touching the skies but it was good enough to motivate me to make something bigger on similar lines. So I did some research and finally worked out the thought of covering artists. Since art is something very vast, I also had to sort out the type of artists who will be a part of it. This is how the major thought process of Virtuoso began. Virtuoso means an individual excelling in any artistic pursuit.
Well, then I cut down my options and spoke to some people and got involved with artists like Indian Ocean, Rajputana Custom Motorcycles (Jaipur), Sameer Hazari (Painter), Daku Graffiti, Shaa’ ir n Func and Reggae Rajahs.
These are the artists who have been shot till now, and there are a lot more that need to be a part of this venture. In fact, we want people to share their work with us so we can continuously keep posting interesting, innovative things to make it into a movement of the people – and have enough content to come up with a 13 Episode Series.
How do you guys work and get work done?
It is definitely not easy handling everything with just two people on the team, but the whole point of having a team is to work in sync and understand each other’s ideas and thought process. Haven’t really felt the need for a team yet; it will be in place soon, but not as of now.
How did Echoes happen? How did you go about getting the whole thing done with all the artists involved?
Echoes was something that was brewing inside of my mind for a long time, ever since the time I started noticing the independent musicians around, who are so good. It is always an amazing experience to witness them live. So, finally when I started ‘Lights on Films’, this was the first thing on my mind.
(Watch Echoes here)
I spoke to a few friends and they got me phone numbers of a lot of musicians from Delhi. This was so important especially since I was just starting with this venture. I really owe it to my friends for getting me in touch with the musicians. I spoke to the artists and a few of them were really interested in being a part of this project. So, I ended up shooting them and their gigs one by one, and interviewing them. It wasn’t so easy doing everything alone and carrying the equipment in the summers here.
But finally it all fell in place, a lot of websites ended up writing about it and when the movie was out the appreciation that we received was really, really special. A lot of efforts went into it. Sleepless nights of editing, finalizing screening venues, talking to people about giving some space to Echoes… It was quite tough, but it fell into place eventually. Echoes had its flaws; the sound wasn’t perfect in some areas and being a film on music that was particularly very important. But we learnt from our mistakes and are trying to make up for all of that in this new series – Virtuoso.
Why indie culture?
As of now, I am an independent artist too, and I understand the efforts, the hard work that goes into creating anything independently, be it a painting or an art work, a photograph, a music track or a short film. It takes a lot of efforts to execute it.
Moreover, in a country like India we have different strata for the ones who are doing commercials and ones doing features who are right up at the top. There is no space left for indie Artists, but then they are here and still doing what they have to do which in itself is a big achievement. Executing a 10 minute film by oneself also isn’t as easy and simple as it sounds or looks once it is on the screen.
So through our films we want to show the importance of independent artists and how it is affecting the “Janta” in general. It is a misconception that something created by an indie artist is seen just by them or their type of people; it is seen and appreciated by everyone. The respect of the art and talent of doing something by yourself needs to come out, especially in young country like India where everyone wants to experiment. Not everyone wants to do the same 9 – 5 jobs anymore. They want to explore their options, which is great since so many people are coming out and doing their thing just because they are passionate and love what they’re doing. This was something that really pushed me to stick to indie Artists.
What do you intend to do with Virtuoso?
Virtuoso is a huge project for us. We want to take it out there to the people., It is a series on art which can be anything from film making, photography, b-boying, wine tasting, customizing bikes, music, painting, illustration, street art, and more. It is never ending when we talk about art, so we are trying to get in Artists from different fields to share their ideas about the importance of independent art and how it has been changing, for good or for bad.
The idea behind Virtuoso is to make it a movement of the people. We want people to send in their work so we can share it around. Art of any form will only be known if it’s shared and you don’t need to charge fees to share any sort of work that has a lot of effort behind it.
We are working on a 13 episode series on Virtuoso and we might hit it up on TV if we get something good and promising or else we will put it up online. Currently we are working on a 5-6 minute video for Virtuoso, which will be sort of a pilot through which we can try and pitch to people who understand the importance of the show and then take it ahead from there. Anything can happen with it, maybe here or outside India, all options are open, the whole idea is to spread the knowledge and share it with people.
Art is something that can’t be contained in a nutshell, you’ve got to let it out and once it’s out there it is so beautiful that it will be accepted.