'I like to ask questions with my art'

'I like to ask questions with my art'

Singer-actor Monica Dogra, who is one half of the popular Mumbai-based electronic duo ‘Shaa’ir and Func’ and has released her solo debut album ‘Spit’, says she doesn’t like to “highlight problems” through her art, but likes to “ask questions”.

“I don’t like to highlight problems through my art. I like to ask questions with my art. I like to attempt to answer them with awareness that my knowing is miniscule in the landscape of knowledge yet to be attained,” Monica said.

“However, I think art across the board has an important role to play in activism, and has always served as a vehicle for social change,” she added.

‘Spit’, which took three years to complete, is “completely different” from her earlier work with ‘Shaa’ir and Func’ because it is “solo articulation”.

“‘Shaa’ir and Func’ is the combination of Randolph and my creative minds. ‘Spit’ is just me... It’s still rooted in experimentation across genres, but the focus is on the storytelling and the lyrics through songs,” she said.

“Song for song, the genres vary. That’s how I am though... pragmatic.”
Regarding the diversity of the album, Monica said ‘Spit’ is an exploration of different musical styles.

“‘Spit’ is a snapshot of my life as well as an exploration of musical styles that don’t usually coexist. Some songs are pop, some are heavy bass tunes, some are drum and bass, some are folk, some are big band/jazz tunes. The record is pragmatic but when you stitch it all together, it makes sense,” Monica said.

As a leading face of the indie music scene in India, Monica noted that the movement has been “witnessing a boom in the last six to seven years”.

“Actually, it is just that it is snowballing exponentially,” she said, adding, “I guess the reason behind this boom is because brands are beginning to invest in this aspect of art and culture because they see that people are consuming it.

“I’m no expert though. My expectation for the Indian music scene is just that we all continue to really support one another and that we all refuse to become complacent.”

Besides music, Monica, a student of musical theatre at the New York University, has also made her foray into Indian showbiz with films like ‘Dhobi Ghat’, where she acted alongside superstar Aamir Khan, and ‘David’. She says it’s been a “wonderful journey” for her.

“I studied musical theatre at NYU — exploring dance, music, and acting have always been a part of my artistic equation. I do feel that I lucked out.“My first film was with one of the most sensitive directors in our industry, Kiran Rao, who I admire and respect very much,” she said, while adding that it “helped” that she acted opposite Aamir, “who is also another shining representation of a true artiste who takes his role as an activist very seriously”.

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