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Kuhad’s collective echoes Nick Drake whimsy

(L-R) Sahil Warsi, Prateek Kuhad and Vir Singh Brar

rateek Kuhad's videos crackle with the inescapable sincerity of the indie musician. This is a phenomenon which is almost always mutually exclusive with how talented said musician happens to be. Even more reason, then, to tune into Kukad's stuff and discover that the man means business. In the middle of Raat Raazi (a dreamy acoustic number among his best efforts), for instance, our man segues into the briefest of percussion sequences, using his guitar's sound box. The nifty interlude isn't perfectly pulled off, simply because Kuhad can't quite pull off a full-fledged drift, one feels. But it's enough to showcase his ambition, and his determination to mix up his folksy roots with other kinds of sounds. Both Raat Raazi and Chahe Ya Na Chahe are songs which bring to mind Nick Drake, who Kuhad lists as one of his influences, along with Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Vedder. Lyrically, in particular, this influence is apparent. Like the concluding verses of Chahe Ya Na Chahe, which Kuhad and percussionist Vir Singh Brar had performed last year at Blue Frog.

Laal peele neele yeh man ki tarangein / Sab hanste hain mujhpe, phir jalte sabhi hain / Hawaaon ne cheekha hai shaamil nishaan/ Muqaddar siqaddar ka bhi manna hai, ke teraa bhi chhota sa ghar hai yahaan/ Tu chaahe ya naa chaahe jaan

Generally speaking, Urdu words are being toned down, whether it's Bollywood or Delhi's indie scene. So when you bump into stuff like Chahe Ya Na Chahe, you're surprised at how lightly Kuhad wears the elegance of his words. (Also, his pronunciation is more Mohit Chauhan than Atif Aslam, thankfully) His sound, on the whole, is an appetising mixture of folksy soft pop and a more eccentric, minstrel-like lyrical touch. Having performed at New York and New Delhi before, Kuhad, Brar and Sahil Warsi are playing under the name Prateek Kuhad Collective, at Fio (the Garden of Five Senses) on Friday at 9: 30 pm.

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