Back in 2015, Delhi based band, Friends of Linger’s frontman, Sharif Rangnekar, decided to write a poem, “with the intent to underline” his identity as a gay man. But as he “moved from verse to verse”, Rangnekar realised that “every individual” is the same and so, the poem, from ‘I am’, became ‘You are’ and then finally ‘We are’. Fast forward it by five years, and that poem has been released as a song .
“In my mind of ideals and dreams, I felt that each individual matters, it shouldn’t be one over the other!” he says before quoting filmmaker Tanuja Chandra, who appears at the end of the song’s music video as well. “She, pretty much sums up what I wanted to say in a far better way: “Each of us is equal in the eyes of nature. So be who you are,” he says.
Titled I Am Who I Am, the five-minute long, starts off with an acapella, and then breaks into an old school rock and roll number. It wasn’t an easy process,as Rangnekar informs. “The song sat with us for a while as I lost my brother to cancer that year (2015). Given that he had heard the ideas around the song, it wasn’t easy for me to go into a studio and complete the piece. It was a bit over a year ago that we finally got things together,” revealing that the final mastering of the track, and the video, were done during the lockdown.
“To put the video together wasn’t as difficult as I imagined purely because of the interest shown by each person who contributed to it. [But] I now wonder if we had no pandemic, would the video have come out the same way – everyone in their own space, mood, would that have been possible say at a site or [a] studio,” he says.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect, since the inherent idea behind the song is that of celebrating oneness, especially in times like these. “I think Covid-19 is not just about the fear of the virus, of life and death or about a health care system. It is also about the loss of space, the feeling that something has been taken away, including identities and a reason to smile. To me, this is the time to use music to remind each other that we all exist and are part of nature and of this world,” he says.
“The idea was to be optimistic while dealing with a very contentious subject of diversity. I hope it would come across as a spark even if tiny and that the message of coexistence goes across and [that it] touches some hearts and minds,” he adds.
Going by the response, it sounds like the song has delivered its message. “Interestingly, there are schools and groups within them that are sharing the song and deciding to hold discussions on diversity and identity. Now, that I never expected or set out to do,” he says revealing that Friends of Linger has been approached, “by a few people”, to do a “series of tracks on diversity, sexuality, minorities etc”. But, while he admits its “overwhelming”,he is not “sure” that the band is in the right space to take on such a challenge. “Not right now,” he signs off.
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