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Directing a Documentary: Bandland Forever, The Bangalore Story

abstract digital art to communicate the two types of project you take up as a pragmatic creative, one for the kitchen and one for the soul
'for the kitchen' and 'for the soul'

Branded film projects generally fall into two categories: 'for the soul' and 'for the kitchen'. It's rare for a project to intersect these two categories, and even rarer for such a project inquiry to come through the contact form on your website. For Momo Media, Bandland was that unique, soul-satisfying project.


Siddharth reached out to us and mentioned that BookMyShow is planning to create a brand new music festival IP called Bandland, dedicated to the die-hard rock music lovers of Bengaluru and they wanted us to help them with the promotional video content for the festival.


Momos are major music enthusiasts, and a brief call was all it took to spark our excitement. Anant Sharma spearheaded the creation of an exciting ad film, while I took charge on crafting the rock documentary. I've always had a passion for non-fiction, so the chance to create a short documentary honouring Bangalore's rock music legacy was a blessing.


I've been part of Bangalore's music scene as an audience for over a decade, but researching for this project felt like rediscovering the city's music culture. Initially, I got Anant on the documentary team as a Creative Consultant, Bushra Shariff as the Creative Producer, and Nawaz Khalid as the AD & Researcher. Given their respective histories with Bangalore's music scene, this was an excellent team for the project. Anant has experience as a musician, Bushra as a festival organizer, and Nawaz as a band content creator.


We began with exploratory conversations with some of the city's young musicians, seeking to understand their perceptions of the current music scene and how it compares to the stories they've heard about the past. Throughout this process, we also continued our online research, sourcing articles and pictures about the Bangalore music scene.


The initial research provided us with an understanding of our documentary's storyline, how to depict the scene's evolution, potential interviewees, the topics for discussion, and the archival material we could possibly obtain from them.



The next phase of research had Bushra dialling into her musician and festival network for more research calls. It ensued some lovely conversations with a bunch of musicians and festival organisers - Bruce Lee Mani, Rajeev Rajagopal of Thermal & a Quarter, the quintessential Bangalore Band, Gopal Navale & Geeta Navale, who were part of the Freedom Jam team, members of T.ill.Apes, old-timers like - Konark Reddy & Kirtana Kumar who gave us a sense of what Bangalore rock music was in the 70s and 80s and Arati Rao the Founder of bFlat & Take5, both had witnessed a younger me attending gigs at numerous occasions.


All these conversations provided us with our questionnaire for the interviews and some more meat on our skeletal story arc.


The film is broadly divided into these two parts

  1. The Bangalore Rock n Roll Legacy

  2. The Return of Rock n Roll w/ Bandland


We divided the shoot into a 5 day shoot schedule -

  1. 2 Days of Interviews w/ Bangalore Musicians

  2. 1 Day of Behind the Scene w/ BookMyShow team

  3. 2 Days of Interviews w/ Festival Artists & supporting crowd coverage at the festival


The Festival coverage team, Slip Disc Films also agreed to share with us the festival footage of both the performances and crowd footage.


Vishnu Tenkalya also joined our team as the DoP and Apoorva joined as MUA. Vishnu’s expertise behind the camera was definitely going to come in handy.


We now needed an interview location and Bushra secured us two proper relevant + great looking locations for the interview - 1. Fandom and 2. Indranagar Social. In the recent years, Fandom has been the go-to gig venue in Bangalore. An indoor venue with decent acoustic + some eclectic programming has made this place the most popular gig spot in the city and Indiranagar Social is cool because it’s Indiranagar.


We did a recce and decided our camera angles. And we were finally ready to roll.


The first day of interviews was held at Fandom in Koramangala. We had several interviews lined up, starting with Girish Raj Ex-DNA, followed by Bruce Lee Mani, Raghu Dixit, and Gaurav Basu from Inner Sanctum. Fandom's dark walls and the stage backdrop added context and character to each frame.


The college circuit in the late 90s and 2000s was an excellent platform for bands, especially at Strawberry Fields by NLSIU. The appreciation for Geeta Navale, Gopal Navale, and Siddharth Rao of Freedom Jam was quite apparent, both on and off camera.


The next round of interviews took place at Indiranagar Social. We started with Konark Reddy and Kirtana Kumar, who had gathered many archival photographs and articles about the Cubbon Park Music Strip for her book, Bangalore Blues. This material wasn't available online and she kindly agreed to share it with us for our documentary. The interviews at Indiranagar turned into a long day, with sessions from T.ill.Apes, Space is All We Have, Gopal & Geeta Navale, and Arati Rao.


The documentary's design assertively presents Bangalore Rock music from an insider's viewpoint. It does this through anecdotes and captivating stories from musicians, artists, and organizers. The goal is to reignite the rock music scene with Bandland, powerfully echoing the phoenix motif used in Bandland's branding.


We were now poised to capture the behind-the-scenes magic of Bandland, unwrapping the meticulous preparation that fuels such a festival. However, Deep Purple, returning to Bangalore after a lengthy hiatus, decided to commandeer the main stage for a practice jam. As a result, cameras were strictly off-limits. When rock n roll royalty issues a decree, the only option is compliance. And so, we reveled in an exclusive, spontaneous jam session in the heart of the festival grounds, among a select few. We had now transitioned to the rockstar phase of the shoot (Nawaz even got his new retro film camera to photograph the band).


We got to interview all the bands apart from the two headlines - Deep Purple & GooGoo Dolls. It was both The War On Drugs and Amyl and The Sniffers first outing in India and Bangalore lived upto the expectations and gave a roaring welcome to them, one they will remember for a long time. All the Indian acts hailing from different parts of the country had a bunch of great stories of performing in Bangalore. The Chennai band, Skrat also coined a new term, Ch-engaluru, emphasising Bangalore’s impact in Chennai’s rock music culture.


With the interviews wrapped up and the festival footage in hand, we moved onto the challenging task of editing. This involved carefully reviewing and selecting the most compelling segments from hours of footage, and then weaving them together into a cohesive narrative. It was a meticulous and intense process, but one that was ultimately rewarding as we saw the story of Bangalore's rock music scene come to life on screen.


The post-production phase was an adrenaline-fueled race against time. We had a super tight timeline of just nine days to transform the extensive footage into a 10-minute documentary that captured the essence of Bangalore's rock music scene.This meant carefully reviewing hours of interviews, backstage moments, and festival coverage, selecting the most compelling snippets, and weaving them together into a cohesive narrative. The process was meticulous and intense, demanding long hours and unwavering focus.


Despite the time crunch, the team - Suraj Sumanth, Abhishek S on the Edit & Animation and Anant Sharma as the Music Director, they absolutely killed it. The sense of urgency fueled our creativity and determination to produce a documentary that did justice to the vibrant rock music legacy of Bangalore. Every late night, every tough decision, every moment of doubt was worth it when we saw the final product – a 10-minute tribute to Bangalore's rock music scene that we were truly proud of.


In the end, the Bandland Documentary was well-received by the client and audience, and we successfully managed to capture the essence of Bangalore's rock music scene. It was a challenging yet rewarding journey that gave us a deeper understanding and appreciation of the city's vibrant music culture.



Directing a documentary, particularly about such a dynamic subject as rock music, involved constantly adapting to the environment and the energy of the subjects. One had to be an unobtrusive observer, capturing candid moments that truly represented the spirit of the scene, yet also a guiding hand that could steer the narrative toward the underlying themes of passion, legacy, and transformation. The pulsating energy of live rock performances was palpable, and it was imperative to ensure that this energy translated on screen.


The completion of the documentary was a moment of profound pride and joy. It was a celebration not just of the music but of the journey—the countless hours of footage, interviews, editing, and post-production that culminated in a narrative that felt as rhythmic and vibrant as the music it portrayed.


This project, while a testament to the rich musical heritage of Bangalore, also helped me grow as a filmmaker. Directing this documentary was not just about capturing history, each frame shot and every interview conducted added further layers to my understanding of storytelling, and in the process even becoming a better Producer, ready to take on the next challenge.


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