Indian Metal bands are going places and we’re thrilled about it. Just a little over a week ago we talked about the band Bloodywood rocking the stage at Wacken. This time around, one of our all-time favourites Gutslit, shows the world that there’s more to India than Bollywood.
Don’t get me wrong, Bollywood is great where it is, but there’s so much more to India. For the last twenty years or so I’ve travelled the world, during the course of which, I’ve had to entertain multitudes of queries about music in India and Bollywood, in particular. When I was a student in London, sixteen years ago, it was almost set in stone that I’d go back to India and either join the Bollywood industry or make documentaries/indie films about poor people doing poor things. These are two easy stereotypes for the westerner to undermine the varied talent that originates in India. Love for anything else is simply attributed to snobbery. People found it hard to digest the fact that I listened to heavy metal, sported that sort of a style, knew their music better than them and hated. fucking. Bollywood. I cringed when I walked past the dance academy on my way to film school and saw white folks prancing around awkwardly to it while my colleagues needled me for an explanation as to why I was so put off.
India is many things. In fact the cultural and lingual differences found in some of our cities and states could be compared to the differences between the Swedes and Italians, for the lack of a better analogy. We don’t all eat Chicken Korma and Kadhai Paneer. It was so difficult finding any other sort of Indian cuisine at the time, that I once had to drop a good amount of cash taking my friends for Dosas and Idlis to Selfridges. Imagine, the humble dosa was that rare and expensive an experience in bloody London.
This is the reason I am so proud of Indian bands leading the way today. After all, don’t we have the best Protest Punk? Death Metal? Hip Hop? Techno? Progressive rock? Hell, we even have Viking Metal! We’ve had bands like Millennium, Parikrama, Demonic Resurrection (There are just so many) who’ve set a standard. We’ve had Iron Maiden, Metallica and even Suicide Silence perform here in India and share the stage with Indian bands that have blown them away.
It’s why Gutslit is important. It’s why this film, Brutal Grooves, directed by Nikko Deluna, is important. It’s why extreme metal is important. The reasons? Conversation, patience and love.
The film opens with the four bands introducing themselves and talking a bit about their backgrounds and music. Splattered from Oakland, Stillbirth from Germany, Carnivore Diprosopus from Colombia and, of course, our own boys from Mumbai.
There’s a certain humility I’ve always found with those in the Metal community, fans and musicians alike. In the past, Metalheads around the world, and more so in India, have been subjected to strange and untrue stereotypes. They’ve always been an easy target for larger society. I remember in the late 90s the music fest I-Rock in Mumbai was subjected to several allegations by a certain politician who went out of his way to ban it. When in actuality, this couldn’t be further from the truth, in my experience at least. All the guys in this film are exceptionally transparent, honest and caring, particularly about their fans and friends and this has always been my experience with the Metal community.
One of the boys from Splattered makes an important and poignant observation at the beginning of the film, “I think it is really important to maintain these friendships, across borders, across continents because as you know back home it’s pretty shitty right now with all the fuckin’ Nazi rallies and white supremacist-shit going down and people attacking each other because they look different, or they speak the wrong language or some bullshit like that… but there’s none of that here, Death Metal, everybody speaks the same gurgling fucking, growling, screaming nonsense and then we just get drunk together,”
You’ve gotta love Gutslit though, especially when Prateek says, “We’re all nuts!”. In this instance, he may be speaking about them, but it kind of resonates with every metalhead out there. We’ve all been asked this question before - “Why do you listen to it? Why do you play it? What’s so appealing about that noise?”. We just can’t answer that and he’s right; It’s not just for the love of it, it’s beyond that.
It was great to watch an organic documentary about metal, no major storyline, no revelations, no ulterior motives, just a bunch of people from different cultures and countries coming together to have a good time. Something we can all learn from.