orali is not your run-of-the-mill, four-piece band with a prepared set-list of hit tunes and cover songs. In fact, it isn’t really a ‘band’ at all. An off-shoot of Thrissur-based Sadhana Center for Creative Practice—a six-year-old theatre repertoire and art collective that promotes all forms of contemporary art—it consists of storytellers from various backgrounds, including musicians, lyricists, actors, poets and visual artistes. The ensemble aims to awaken people to socially-relevant issues via music and drama. We speak to the crew—who’ve recently returned from a multi-stop tour of Bengaluru, including a show at Indigo Live—prior to their Kochi debut at Papaya Cafe.
“Oorali was initially just a band that performed background tracks for Sadhana’s play Oodichu Oodichu, which is performed on a bus that has been altered to double-up as a stage (as seen in director Sachin Dev’s documentary, Carnival on Wheels),” begins vocalist Martin John C, the theatre activist behind Sadhana Center, who spent over seven years working and teaching theatre in several Latin America countries—alongside Chile-based physical theatre artiste, Elias Cohen. Explaining how the band was officially formed, 34-year-old guitarist, Saji Kadampattil, says, “In 2013, while researching the life of Kerala Sahithya Academy award-winning poet, Kadamanitta Ramakrishnan, at the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in Bengaluru, I met Martin (another IFA-grantee). He loved my idea of incorporating the energetic and folk-tinged Kadamanitta poems (including Thummaruthu) into Oorali’s music. That’s how the ‘band’ came about.” Kadampattil had, in fact, quit a corporate life to venture into filmmaking and music. The other crew members coming to the city for the gig, titled Oorali Express, are Anoop Velur (bass guitar) and Sudhish Velur (percussion).
What to expect
At their acoustic performance—a mix of impromptu theatre and music—Oorali (which means spokesperson) will tell the story of a bus that’s witnessed the current socio-political situation in the state, share its thoughts on what’s right/wrong, and suggest remedies through tracks like Oodichu oodichi. They achieve this unique artistic expression through fun yet thought-provoking ‘music-theatre conversations’ and original songs with simple, relatable lyrics incorporating a blend of genres including reggae and folk-rock sung in multiple languages. “Our music is 90 per cent Malayalam, but there’s a good dose of English and Spanish too,” says John. “We are not here to spread propaganda but to spread the notion of freedom of expression through music,” he concludes. At Papaya Cafe on August 23. From 8 pm. `250. Details: 9895019900
(Courtesy: Indulge, http://indulge.newindianexpress.com/)