We threw a party at the County Jail!
It was Raghu’s Birthday and we thought we could celebrate it by doing something unique, something no Indian band has done ever before! (Infact, something very few bands in the world have attempted!) To take music to places it has never been to before! And as if to satisfy all these cravings, we hit upon the idea of performing at the ‘Parappana Agrahara’ – The Bangalore Central Jail!
Nothing can prepare you for the first time you enter a Jail (and in my case, it was only to check the venue!) – when you walk into those gates, the nervousness sets in and you are just in a heightened state of awareness suddenly! you are keenly observing every single detail and always watching out of the corner of your eye for something un-natural.
But again, once you are there for about 20 minutes, nothing can beat how quickly you get used to the place! Atleast the Bangalore Central Jail was that way for me. After a short duration, you began to see the human side of the people around you and not start to wonder why he was there!
We got all our permissions in place well in advance and inspite of some last minute jitters, we were all set to start on time.
At this point, all of us should put our hands together for Acoustic Control, the guys who did sound at the venue, who gave us a massive discount and shared in the crazy idea that enamoured us from the word go!
We knew that we were asking for too much if we started our audience to sit quietly as we ran through our sound check! So we quickly did a line check and then just went up to the green room and quickly got into costume! and at 12 noon, the band started.
Now none of the wardens were ready for what was to follow and and I don’t think most of the prisoners had any idea either. There were there ready to watch what was happening, but were not expecting to hear much or see much, or atleast thats what they told us from previous experience. So when they saw us set up the truss and the flying speaker system, they did not know what would hit them!
Right from the word go, it was a PARTY! All of them wished Raghu and we launched into “Hey Bhagwan” which saw a lot of hooting and clapping and one guy whistling through the song that sounded like a variety of birds were meeting! By the time we came to “Mysore Se Aayi”, we had most of them with us willing us to take them further!
The calls for Kannada rang loud after that and Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo started the Kannada set. From there, there was no looking back! we ran through “Lokada Kallaji Maduthinanthi”, one of the newer songs, “Khidki” and then “Neene Beku”, which they all went crazy about! We had them standing and dancing and shirts being swirled in the air and the whole time, the police and the jailors watched as the people in their custody truly were having fun in a place that was inherently not meant to be fun!
The warden then came over and thanked everyone for pulling this off and admitted that he had no idea what to expect when they told him it was going to be a “rock” show, but he then said that it was just perfect for him and everyone that was in there!
The finale was what has become synonymous with Raghu in Karnataka atleast, we played “Ninna Pujege Bande Mahadeshwara” and what a fitting end it was! the entire place erupted with everyone joining in and singing along, it was something you only hear about in fables!
We had a great time putting this together and thanks to Prasad from Prakruthi and every one of the prison authorities who helped us to make this happen. Thanks also to Sanjay and Sathya and the boys from Acoustic Control for making sure it was all smooth and nice and for the excellent set up! Huge thanks to Ganesh Raghunathan for documenting the whole thing with your photos!
We hope that for that one hour or so that we performed there, we helped some of the prisoners look at the bright side of life and that somewhere music made a connection, that will someday lead to reform
Happy Birthday Raghu – I don’t think it could have been any more special!
See the rest of the pictures on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=339976&id=522175007&l=86c1477067