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Rock Club

(Published in "Studio Systems" May-June 2003)

 All over the world, passionate fans of any Art form tend to gravitate towards each other, especially when it ceases to become the flavor of the month and goes off the mainstream media. This is the fate that has befallen Classic Rock today, as both the music TV channels and radio of today shy away from having it on their play lists. In Mumbai, it has now been just a year since the launch of a Rock club for invited members was mooted by Narendra Kusnur, the Mid-Day music critic and it was welcomed wholeheartedly by likeminded Rock loving friends like myself.

Starting off as an email mailing list which exchanged interesting news about Rock stars and their music, the idea of a listening session was suggested and promptly implemented. The sessions have since become a roaring success where rare collections from avid fans are played for thirsty Rock fans. DVD viewing of legendary Rock concerts form an important part of the sessions and the incredible variety available is a virtual treat for the Rock fan.

The Rock club is a motley group of fifty comprising of artistes, recording company & Music TV channel personnel besides just plain diehard Classic Rock fans. The club has decided to have their own DVD collection from contributions by the members. The sessions and email chat of this club has certainly helped me keep in touch with the music that I love so much. At times, I have heard music at the sessions after a gap of decades and it has also served to enlighten me about some of the artistes that I missed along the way.

CAS

The Conditional Access System has become the bane of the entire Indian Television Industry and what was proposed to have become savior, both to the consumer and the channels, has now become a potential disaster! The amateurish handling of a government that is holding the entire nation to ransom for its daily dose of entertainment of their choice is shocking. Yet, there is no sign of any redress to the various complaining agencies as the government sticks firmly to its original timetable of 15th July.

The Pay channels will definitely suffer a loss in viewer ship as the cost of the set top box will prove prohibitive to the majority of the populace who had got used to paying a pittance. The uncertainty has put the consumers. Advertisers & Pay television channels into a flap with not a hint of concern from the government. The previous ad Hoc behavior of the government where rulings have been pulled back also makes decisions difficult for everybody concerned.

CAS, as a concept, is truly an ideal system for television viewing as has been demonstrated in the countries it has been implemented. If properly executed, CAS will allow the viewer to pay only for the pay channels he wants, the channels will get the correct revenue from its market and the advertisers will know the exact viewer ship figures so that ad rates can be consumerate! Unfortunately, this requires a proper system to be in place which is sorely lacking in our country today. The neighborhood cable operator will continue to dictate terms to the public and the channels alike, the very wrong it has been designed to prevent. The naïve approach of an ineffective government has once again reduced an emerging opportunity to dust.

Box Office

Hits from Bollywood seemed to have died a natural death, a source of enormous concern to the Media professionals of Mumbai. The music industry continues to show no sign of reviving while the CAS mess threatens to derail Television, the only entertainment industry that was growing at a steady pace. In this scenario, it was with a great sense of relief that the recent successes of movies like “Bhoot” etc. have raised our hopes. The fact that it was the only non song movie in the recent releases was certainly not the cause of comfort for us musicians! Nevertheless, it was great that the box office calculations worked and Hope is once again in the air.

The recent success of smaller budget films like “Monsoon Wedding”, “Bend it like Beckham” etc. has also seen the increase of the launch of many English films from India. Digital Cinema is also just around the corner as many films are now being shot on this format. This will result in further cost reduction and an enormous opportunity for the talent in this country. Unfortunately this has also resulted in the production of sub standard work as just about everybody feels he can make a movie! I recently had the misfortune of witnessing the poor quality of a hyped up movie that was touted by a leading columnist as the find of the century! I hope this fate does not befall us all as more and more, low budget films continue to be announced daily.  

Sound Design

Out of the five senses that man possesses, Hearing is probably the most abstract and yet, it has proved to be most effective especially when used in combination with a strong visual. It operates at the sub conscious level and its impact is long lasting and strong. In our media driven world, the management of Sound in all presentations has taken on a new meaning and its importance has been recognized by all major directors of Motion pictures and Television. Today, the art of Sound Design finds itself, even in the production of every computer and video game you come across, not to mention theatrical productions, Web sites, and radio dramas.   

Sound Design is as old as talking movies, but it really became a serious full-time profession when the use of sound was brought to new heights in films such as Apocalypse Now and Star Wars in the mid-1970s. In India, with the rise of multiplexes with Dolby, DTS Surround equipment, Sound design is finally being recognized by the Bollywood Industry as a crucial aspect of filmmaking. As the industry develops, the importance of good Sound design in all media presentations is becoming apparent to all decision makers and sound-design work is available for virtually every form of visual entertainment.

It was this in mind that Avinash Oak, former director, Sound Recording, Western Outdoor, Uday Chitre, Senior Recordist, Western Outdoor and I decided to hold the first ever Sound designing Workshop in Mumbai. Ideal for Film, Sound Recording & Video students, it was also of benefit to Media Houses, the Game & Animation people besides Internet, Multimedia, Theatre & Advertising personnel. Event Managers, Musicians, FM & TV channel personnel also have shown great interest in this art and the first workshop was a great success. The next workshop has already been planned and by the time you read this, we should have completed it. The enthusiasm of the participants was heartening and it was obvious that we have a lot of great talent in this country which will be doing some great audio visual work in the near future.

Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones concert in Bombay last month saw the getting together of many Indian fans of Classic Rock and served to revitalize their interest in this genre. After a long time, a truly international Rock concert hit Mumbai after the oppressive entertainment tax was reduced. The energy of the nearly 60 year old Mick Jagger was an inspiring moment for us Rockers of the seventies. The concert was more than two hours long and although they did not play some of their earlier great hits, the crowd was in seventh heaven with the quality of the vintage Rock offered to them.

Performing with a band of nearly 15 members and with their very own sound and lights, the show was as good as any in the western world. If only the event managers and performance venues could get their act together and save the huge crowd from the humiliating experience of the long winding queues and lack of proper directions for entry etc., the experience would have equaled any of the great concerts I have experienced in the developed world.  

In order to celebrate the visit of the legendary Rock band, the Rock Club had a special session dedicated to them which was held at Insync Studios.  This became truly a memorable evening as some great video clippings were shown which showcased the Stones as what they really are, the greatest Rock band in the world. Just the clip of “Sympathy for the Devil” at the BBC TV show was enough for that!

 Rock on!

 

Nandu Bhende

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