Those musically inclined know him as one of the founders and bass guitar player of Mrigya, the genre-defying band, that delivered a high octane performance at International Jazz Fest that concluded yesterday (Sept. 24-26) in Delhi's Nehru Park. But the band, that has rocked stages across the world, has always been a hobby. For bread and butter, Indraneel Hariharan, 43, runs a production house that churns out radio jingles for the likes of OLX, Maruti and... His client list is so long that he struggles to recall the names. Never mind.
In his 17 year long career as a musician, he has also composed music for corporate films, and produced music for three feature films: What the fish, Listen... Amaya (starring Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval), and Surkhaab, an Indo-Canadian venture. As part of Mrigya - with two albums to its credit - Hariharan has performed in every continent except "Antarctica and Latin America", winning along the way the prestigious Herald Angel award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2001.
But at the end of it all, it's Dwarka that he comes back to. "It's my hideaway from the world," says the musician who has been living with his wife and two kids in his own three-bedroom flat in DDA's Kautilya apartment (Sector 14) since 2006. "Once I am home in Dwarka, I leave work behind," he says. That's perhaps the reason why he has never performed at his home turf. But then if an invitation to perform in his neighbourhood comes, he wouldn't hesitate.
Dwarka is the best place to live, he says, it is quiet, peaceful, green and traffic free. It is also close to the airport - for a frequent flyer like him, it's a great convenience. "And know what, when cities like Gurgaon went down under the rains, Dwarka hummed its way through the shower," he says.
But isn't it kind of boring there given there are no bars or clubs like Gurgaon has? Well, Hariharan doesn't miss these. After all, the subcity's sport complex in Sector 10 more than makes up for the lack of entertainment options. "I go there regularly to the gym and to swim, while wifey walks around and the kids run. One must give credit to the DDA that they have maintained this complex so well," he says.
Unfortunately, when it comes to maintaining the residential buildings, Hariharan feels DDA seems to have turned a blind eye. "Unauthorised construction is rampant in every house and work as eyesores. Weird looking balconies are jutting out into the park and extra rooms are being built in flats with no approval. Structurally dangerous, a mild earthquake can spell disaster. There are encroachments on public spaces. Staircases are falling apart. Yet DDA takes no action. As if after construction, they have discarded the buildings. Even the residential bodies, though pro active, are not powerful enough to stop these," he says.
So what does he think about the music scene in Dwarka? Is there a scene at all? Hariharan points out that quite a number of professional musicians stay in the subcity. There are also few good music schools and he singles out Bridge Music Academy in Sector 7 as particularly good.
Hariharan himself has never gone to any music school though. He is self taught and he started late - he picked up the guitar when he was 19. "But I haven't done too badly as a musician," he says. Which is why he has a special message for parents: Don't push your kids to learn music; one doesn't need to start young. "Kids these days have strong personalities. Let them take their time. Let the interest come from within. You shouldn't put them into a cage," he advises.
Hariharan knows this from experience: His son loved strumming the guitar but when he was enrolled at a school, he just stopped playing and lost interest. "Music is not a competitive sport, it is a journey of self-discovery. One should enjoy oneself, there should be no structural boundaries," he holds forth.
Guess that's how he managed to move out of the confines of Dwarka to boom around the world
Catch Indraneel Hariharan with his band Mrigya live at Tagore Park Durga Puja next month.