Over the years, however, Kharbangar has been joined on the scene by a number of other women who have made just as much of a name for themselves. Monica Dogra, Samara Chopra, Anushka Manchanda and Suman Sridhar, for instance, are familiar to everyone who listens to indie music from India. And there are those, such as Sanaya Ardeshir, who have managed to grab attention over the last few months.
When Dogra moved to Mumbai in 2005 from the US, the scene was quite different. “Then there were almost no other women,” she said in an earlier interview to this newspaper. “Perhaps it was because the indie scene in general was quite dismal and women didn’t see the scope to pursue their passion.” Since then, however, the scene has consistently grown and Dogra has found herself in the middle of it. In addition to music, she acted in her first Bollywood film, Dhobi Ghat, in 2011 and her second, David, was released earlier this month. But it has been with the music band Shaa’ir + Func that she made a name for herself. The group has played at some of the biggest festivals around the world including in the UK, the US, Europe and Dubai.
What’s even more encouraging, however, is the fact that each of these musicians make music that’s very different from the next. So while Kharbangar’s captivating voice lends itself to the blues, Dogra’s Shaa’ir + Func — her partner is Randolph Correia — does alternative electro-rock. Samara Chopra, better known by her stage name Miss Samara C, is frontwoman for the country’s first ska and dub band while Manchanda’s Shkabang, plays radio-friendly electro-pop/rock.
Besides being a musician, Chopra is also a trained actor and host for various television lifestyle shows. In 2010, The Ska Vengers were formed — with the other members of the band being Delhi Sultanate, Raghav Dang, Stefan Kaye, Tony Guinard and Nikhil Vasudevan. Ever since, they have become one of the most exciting live acts around. Chopra’s sensual vocals hint at her jazz background while her stage presence makes it almost impossible to look away while the band is on stage. Add to that, the ska rhythms blended with dub, punk and jazz make for highly energetic and danceable music.
For the newer comers, the scene has become increasingly supportive. Ardeshir, for instance, believes that being a girl makes no difference. “Being a girl is not even something I think about. I know at least five or six other girls who are DJs,” she says. And she has a simple explanation for the electronica scene being male-dominated. “More boys get into engineering and they follow with sound engineering thereafter.” But on the whole, it’s a good time to be a woman in the Indian indie industry.