New Delhi, March 13: Gone are the days when rock music meant only English songs with headbanging compositions. Fast forward to the present and desi rock bands in vernacular languagese like Haryanvi and Tamil are getting a place in the playlist of music lovers.
For close to half a century, rock music only catered to the young generation, but with bands singing in native languages mixed with western music and instrumets, it has now got a much wider audience.
Rock bands performing in Malyalam, Haryanvi and Tamil are the new attractions for music lovers.
Tony John, lead singer of four-member Malayalam rock band Avial, says singing in the regional language has helped them connect with their community, who were not connoisseurs of rock music.
"Before Avial happened, we used to sing in English but one thing that is happening is that the connect does not happen strongly if you sing in just English. Singing in mother tongue helps people connecting with us in a better way," John told IANS.
In fact, they have non-Malyali listeners too.
"When we started in 2003, our first response came mostly from non-Malayali audiences. Over the years, the response has been good," added John, who has written rock numbers like "Kali", "Ettam pattu" and "Aana kallan" with his band members.
How about rock songs in Haryanvi?
Kunal Wassan, a 24-year-old singer, and his Delhi-based Haryanvi Sufi rock band Nasya, have made it possible.
Of course Kunal, who is from Delhi, was initially hesitant about singing in Haryanvi, but successful concerts boosted their confidence.
Interestingly, out of seven band memebers, only flute player Nikhil is from Sonipat, Haryana.
Now, Wassan takes pride in saying that he has delivered energetic performances across the nation and entertained by crooning Haryanvi rock numbers such as "Naseeb chi", "Rabba mennu maaf kari" and "Baawravi".
"As a vocalist, I personally felt a little hesitant initially. I did not wish to offend the local people and their dialect. Even though we had researched everything on their music, it was a different thing when it came down to implementing it," Wassan said.
"But then when locals accepted our work and we got social acceptability, we became more confident," Wassan told IANS.
They have minimum 12 to 15 shows in a month. Although he refused to give details about earnings, Wassan admitted that it allowed them to enjoy a comfortable life.
Aum Janakiram is the lead guitarist of Chennai-based band Little Babooshka's Grind (LBG). Although they play in English, he said the band gets "requests to perform in colleges and other places and the maximum requests come for playing in Tamil."
They adhere to the demands by belting out numbers like "Kolavari di", "Oh Podah" and "Urvashi".
However, the 28-year-old rues artists get distracted and start playing for movies.
"The problem is that some artists who have a strong connect with the audiences move into movies. They don't realise how serious a connect with the audience is," Janakiram said.
Success for any band depends on how well it is marketed, says Wassan.
"I think bands like us have been successful. It depends on how well the marketing has been done, if the music played by bands is true or not. For us, initial two years were full of struggle, but later things became better," he said.
"The youth identifies with the sound of rock music. A decade ago, for the first time, rock made its entry into Bollywood. Then a lot of bands in West Bengal followed it up and the youth loved it. The success of Hindi and Bengali rock is bound to be replicated in other regions," he said.
In West Bengal, Fossils is considered one of the topmost regional rock bands.
Shameer Tandon, who composed music for Hindi films such as "Page 3" and "Jail", agrees that rock in India has given a successful rise to regional bands.
(Yashika Mathur can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)