'Sufi' a much abused term today: Indian Ocean's Rahul Ram

Nashik (Maharashtra), Feb 6 (IANS) The term "Sufi music" has become much abused these days, probably because the "Sufi" tag sells, says Rahul Ram of rock band "Indian Ocean", widely known as the pioneers of the fusion rock genre in India.

"Just any music is being given the tag of Sufi music... I was surprised to see that one of the top music companies used my non-Sufi songs in a Sufi album and the real Sufi ones were left out. Maybe, the tag sells better," Ram, the anchor musician of the band, told IANS on the sidelines of "SulaFest 2017" here.

This Delhi-based group, now into the 28th year of its musical journey, has been known for both filmy and non-filmy music. They fondly remember their first mega hit album "Kandisa" in 2000, which until then was the highest-selling album by any Indian band.

"We take pride in the fact that we didn't rush to Mumbai to make a name. If you have something good to offer, it will work, no matter which part of the country you are located in," said Susmit Sen, another member of the group. The other members are Tuheen Chakravorty, Himanshu Joshi and Amit Kilam.

After the huge success of "Kandisa", they started getting offers from Bollywood and they composed music for movies like "Black Friday", 

"Katiyabaaz", "Peepli Live", "Masaan", "Mumbai Cutting" and "Silence" (Marathi), among several others.

"Making music for movies has its constraints of situation and length of the song. So, we have mostly been doing our albums and live shows. In a live show, when you see the crowd before you swaying and dancing and jumping to your music, you feel much more satisfied," Ram said.

But what about the money? Ram says there are misconceptions about what Bollywood pays.

"It's a wrong notion that Bollywood music is more paying financially. In fact, no musician earns 'enough money" there -- it is the live shows that fetch you more. But yes, Bollywood recognition does help one get shows outside," Kilam added.

Asked to classify the style of their music, Ram said: "We won't give a definition for our music. It's simply musical and one that soothes your soul." However, they are widely known for jazz fusion and fusion of traditional Indian ragas with rock music, guitars and drums, sometimes also using Indian folk songs.

About the free online release of their album "16/330 Khajoor Road" (named after the Karol Bagh, Delhi, address where they have been rehearsing since 1997), Joshi says that the days of album sale are gone as everything is available online now.

"So, we decided to offer our songs for free. If people like it and these become popular, we could get more offers from here and there and that would translate into monetary gains in future. And that would also save us from many hassles (possibly, of negotiating contracts with record companies and fighting over copyright issues)," said Chakravorty.

Their advice to beginners is to make music for oneself first. This will help them to master the art, and only after this should one move to Bollywood where one faces the challenge of dancing to others' tunes, they say.

(Nirmal Anshu Ranjan is in Nashik at the invitation of SulaFest and can be contacted at [email protected])