Gaana Music Festival: Bringing you Roots 2.0

When we set out to bring a music festival to the USA, we wanted it to be a reflection of what’s happening in India right now (because boy, have things changed).

Let’s rewind a little bit and revisit that old aphorism: India is changing. Well, it always has been. Even so, the last decade has been truly spectacular in one aspect: mainstream popular culture is evolving. Why? A new generation – armed with global inspiration and the internet – are doing fresh things. Not a a melanin-tinted version of Western culture, but something that liberally borrows from it, and juxtaposes it with Indian context. The result: something truly indigenous.

Take gully rap. Inspired by American rappers on YouTube, made in Mumbai slums, now playing in posh clubs in the same city. And it’s not niche anymore: Bollywood recently made a movie on one of its biggest proponents. Not a documentary, but a full-blown production, with the talents of Ranveer Singh & Alia Bhat. Who knows what art form will inspire a multi-crore movie a few years down the line?
And that is the more exciting part. The fact that the future holds the promise of something completely different. Our next superstar could be now be nothing more than a college kid with a Chinese smartphone and ambition. Today, Divine is a household name, and will perform at Gaana Music Festival. Tomorrow, Shoreline Amphitheater could see someone else, doing something we never dreamed of. How exciting is that?

‘Mere Gully Mein’, the track that propelled Divine & Naezy (and gully rap) to national fame.

Or consider comedy. In 2010, it was a weekend hobby at best. Today, the Twitter bio of an Indian Amazon Prime Video-hosted comedy hunt show reads, only partly in jest, “A show that convinces parents that comedy is a legit career”. And why? Because even our most urbane comics bring in the Indian context, setting them apart from Western comics.

It’s not just stand-up, but sketch and other forms of comedy racking up views. Take Kanan Gill’s Pretentious Movie Reviews with fellow comedian, Biswa Kalyan Rath.

In the last decade, “Indian culture” has become more difficult to define than ever before, but is clearly a far cry from the stereotype of “elephants and snake charmers”. Your roots are not just different, they’re constantly changing. Our aim is to bring you a microcosm of contemporary Indian entertainment. Welcome to Gaana Music Festival, ladies and gentlemen. Rediscover your roots, and find new ones.