Rang Rangiya: A Song Beyond Borders

Maati Baani’s new song ‘Rang Rangiya’ is an ‘online’ collaboration between 12 Indian and Pakistani artists, – Komal Rizvi, Santosh Ghante, Gulab Afridi, Sarthak Mudgal, Kartik Shah, Nirali Kartik, Omran Shafique, Kurt Menezes, Biswajit Chakroborty, Rupe Khan, Moti Khan and Asfandyar Junejo.

Released on India’s independence day – the 15th of August – the song was conceptualised, composed and recorded in just a month over countless Skype and Google Hangout sessions. Nirali Kartik and Kartik Shah, the vocalist-guitarist duo of Maati Baani talk about how it all happened.

Sharanya: What inspired Rang Rangiya?
: We had been seeing a lot of war pictures from Gaza and one photo affected us a lot. It was of an injured child. He face had been completely disfigured in the bombing. That got us thinking. We felt that we must do something in response to what was happening. That is how the song was born.

Kartik: We had wanted to collaborate with Pakistani artists for a long time, especially after we saw Coke Studio. So we thought, why not now? This was just a month before Independence Day. We decided that we will contact them and then take it forward depending on the response we get. Almost everybody said yes!


Sharanya: Tell us about how this song got made.
: The bass and dholak player in the song are part of our band. But we still had to trace everyone else. We had been following all these Pakistani artists on YouTube and we wrote to those who seemed most approachable. At that time, we had no melody or structure in place. But once they knew the idea behind the song, they agreed immediately! We also found production teams online – in Karachi and Lahore – to record and shoot the Pakistani artists. We had to give them very specific technical instructions to maintain the sound and video quality.

Nirali: There were a lot of Skype conversations involved! Kartik would do Skype sessions with the artists and explain their parts to them. And the song changed during these discussions. When Kartik was talking with Gulab Afridi, the rabab player from Peshawar, he immediately came up with a nice loop which is now in the beginning of the song. So, there was a lot of creative exchange.

Kartik: There was a lot of commitment from the Pakistani artists. We had seen a few home recordings of Gulabji on YouTube, before we contacted him. He doesn’t have an internet connection at home. So, he used to visit cyber cafés to chat with us on Skype. Then he learnt his parts, took his rabab to his friend’s chemist shop (which had a computer) and played for us from there!

Sharanya: How did you do all this in a month? Were there any obstacles along the way? Anything that went wrong?
There was plenty of drama. We had come up with a detailed recording and shooting schedule – but as expected, it didn’t work out. It was raining heavily in Mumbai, where we had initially planned to shoot and we had to shift the venue to Ahmedabad. There were some disagreements and a few artists backed out at the last moment. We had to find people to replace them overnight. We had contacted a lot of eminent Indian musicians too but we didn’t get a very positive response from them.

Nirali: We started composing the song on the day we started contacting these artists. We were working day and night and it was affecting our health. There were a lot of times during the making of the song when we thought of dropping it completely. But the message was so strong that we continued to work on it.

kartik-1 Sharanya: What were the things that went right?
: We never expected the kind of help we received! Almost everyone who was involved in the making of the song waived their fees including the artists. We didn’t have to pay for any of the venues. Even the production teams in Pakistan refused to charge us!

Nirali: We recently had a hangout session online to thank all the artists. All of us have become friends. So, I would say that this has been a life changing song for us. We know now that we can do as musicians, what we can’t do as individuals!

Sharanya: What’s in store for the future?
More collaborations! Our next song is a surprise even for us. But we will move ahead with the same thought.

Kartik: Other than that, we are working on a series of 10 songs where we will collaborate with 10 great musicians from across the world.

You can listen to Rang Rangiya, and watch the video here.
For more about Maati Baani you can visit their Facebook page here.



Sharanya Nandini Gautam

Sharanya is an independent media professional based in Secunderabad. Her interests include the study of folk cultures, traditional knowledges and poetry. She is passionate about learning new languages, the Western coast of India and travelling by public transport. At present, Sharanya is working on projects focussed on primary education and child rights.

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