Interview: Moksh, India’s First Marathi Rock Band That Marries Indian Classical Music With Rock

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L-R Jimmy Alexander, Mandar Deshpande, Shreyas Joshi, Pushkar Kulkarni and Sagar Joshi
Moksh, the first Marathi Rock band
L-R Jimmy Alexander, Mandar Deshpande, Shreyas Joshi, Pushkar Kulkarni and Sagar Joshi

“Kitne pakao gane sunta hai re tu!”, my college mates commented whenever they browsed playlist on my humble Nokia phone. The reason being, that the 4 GB memory in my cell was occupied by Kishori Amonkar, The Beatles, The Doors and many Marathi/Konkani songs. And my friends happen to be Hindi film songs/Eminem/Linking Park fanatics! I often hid my annoyance under a smile and some lame excuses. However, some days ago, when I took them to Korum Mall with me for a Rock band performance, they were all stunned and thanked me for taking them there. The reason? The band playing was Moksh, the first ever Marathi Rock band & India’s first ‘Raag Metal’ band!

Recently, I got a chance to talk to Mandar Deshpande, lead singer of Moksh through a mutual friend and he took me through the exciting journey of the band. Here is an excerpt of the telephonic interview.

Sagar Joshi & Jimmy Alexander
Sagar Joshi & Jimmy Alexander

First of all, when did you join Moksh and what does the name mean?
The band was formed in 2009 with with Ameya Gawand on vocals , Chinmay Agharkar on Guitar,  Sagar Joshi on Bass and Sumedh Gupte on Drums. Later Pushkar Kulkarni joined the band on Keyboards. Sadly, soon enough it was just Sagar and Pushkar carrying the band forward. They were holding auditions and I was selected and joined them in 2010. Moksh was recognized as First Marathi Rock Band on 1st May 2010 on Radio Mirchi with a three hour special show on the occasion on Maharashtra Day. Moksh means a state after self-actualization where a human being is free from all the worries and worldly desires. Through our music, we try to induce the same state in people’s minds. Today our band includes Jimmy Alexander on Lead/Rhythm, Sagar Joshi on Bass, Pushkar Kulkarni on Keyboards and Shreyas Joshi – Drums/Percussions.

Where was the first show? How was the response?
We played at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon in June 2010. Response was definitely good and the audience appreciated our composition, Ghe Bharari, a song which with a message to fight against corruption.

Mandar Deshpande- lead vocals
Mandar Deshpande- lead vocals

Have you played only in Mumbai or other cities as well?
Besides Mumbai we have traveled to other cities and even the remotest areas of Maharashtra like Jalna with an aim to promote rock music. In Aurangabad, at Sakaal Food Festival we got a chance to perform before a large audience of around 1500 and we were delighted to see that they loved our new genre of music. We have also been lucky to get a chance to play with Agnee, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and receive praise from Marathi music composer Kaushal Inamadar and actors Sonali Bendre and Kirron Kher when we performed at India’s Got Talent, a reality show on Colors channel. 

Shreyas Joshi- Drummer
Shreyas Joshi- Drummer

Did purists criticize the band ever?
We sing Sanskrit shlokas and classical bandishs on Metal tunes. This music creates a unique experience. But yes, they did, especially when we composed Sant Tukaram’s abhang in a rock style; but that’s OK. We have  received more appreciation than criticism and that’s what counts. We are not restricted to perform a particular genre of music; the world of music is vast and we wish to try many such experiments.

What’s next on the plan?
We have composed music for two films, Hindi and Marathi, of which the Marathi film will be released in June. We also have a plan to perform a gig in an auditorium in Pune, where people usually come for a play, and a live music performance will be something new for them. Also, we are experimenting with a combination of folk music with rock and hope to perform at various places in Maharashtra where a local artist will get a chance to perform on the stage with us, thus promoting the local talent.

Jimmy Alexander- lead guitar
Jimmy Alexander- lead guitar

Why haven’t you come up with an album yet?
Limited budget is the prime reason. Releasing an album does take a lot of money. Besides, we want to promote our music and create awareness about the genre before we release an album. Once people are receive this type of music well, we will consider an album. Also, piracy affects the music a lot and you don’t know where your music goes. ( This comment by Mandar reminded me of the legendary Kesarbai Kerkar, a 20th century vocalist from Goa. She never allowed anyone to record her music stating that it was only meant to be experienced live!)

What do you think about the present rock music scene in India? And Marathi in particular?
We believe people enjoy new music but the problem is the low reach of genuinely good music. If people know something good exists they will listen to it, if they are not aware at all,  you can’t blame them. Hence we are spending so much time on awareness rather than cutting albums.

Yes, music lovers always love new music, Folk or Classical, Rock or Metal. I’m looking forward to Moksh’s next gig where I want to take some more friends along who think classical is pakao! Know other new bands performing in Mumbai? Then, write to us at story@mumbaimag.com and share.

Photos by Saurabh Oka and Tushar Dhanawade.

Post By Omkar Padwal (42 Posts)

Loves classical and rock music alike, passionate about painting, writing, photography, travelling and eating!

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Omkar Padwal

Omkar Padwal
Loves classical and rock music alike, passionate about painting, writing, photography, travelling and eating!