| Tejas, or just ‘T’: Crazy is the way to be
He’s got music and creativity in his blood, but both have taken him in directions quite different from that of his family. Having singers Lata and Usha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle for aunts and music director Hridaynath Mangeshkar for his father hasn’t meant living in the shadow of family fame for Tejas Mangeshkar. Instead, he has succeeded in carving his own creative niche.
The 28-year-old began his career in a small room in his grandmother’s house in Mumbai, along with friend Kurnal Rawat, four years ago, right after graduating from JJ College of Arts. From two computers at Fiction Zone, their graphic designing company, there are now 10 in an office in Mahim. And the enterprise is now entitled ‘Grandmother’.
The freedom to be uniquely creative was his Mecca, explained Tejas, during his first foray into Calcutta this weekend, to design the website and do the branding for Akar Prakar, a furniture showroom-cum-art gallery-cum-café at Hindustan Park.
Designing restaurants and wine labels, album covers and websites, for Indian bands like Pentagram and films like Dil Chahta Hai and Bhopal Express, and working on Bacardi Breezer and FTV launches, the aim has always been to “go off the beaten track, with funky, freaky and crazy stuff”.
The website for UK-based NGO Mungo won them the Macromedia Flash award, and the music mixer on the BPL site won them more laurels. “An interesting project we did was for the Queens Museum, New York, on how kids from both sides view their homes and families. While the New Yorkers used webcams, the Mumbai bunch drew their stuff, and we arranged it on the site. Currently, we are working on a US NGO-funded project on archiving old Mumbai typography on, for instance, shopfronts, that are disappearing.”
It is this sense of aesthetics that Calcutta’s old architecture appeals to so much. “I love this city. Maybe Mani Ratnam’s film will give it some deserved fame,” Tejas adds, having bumped into the director and had a chat with him.
Music, of course, is in his genes. For the man who finds Bollywood “boring” and Hindi film music “a little too commercial”, underground is the key. The Bhavishyavani — futuresoundz band of four, with Tejas, or ‘T’ on the tabla, has jammed in “dark and dingy” clubs in Mumbai, after doing them up in funky themes from Gandhi to Ganapati, to Qbar in Bangkok. The other three are Kurnal or Cut Class with ambient rhythms and beats, Ashim Ahluwalia or Insat on drum and bass, and Jatin Vidyarthi or Master Justy the DJ mixer.
“I learnt the tabla till around Class IX, because of my Indian classical music family background. Then I got into rock, grew my hair long and gave up all things Indian,” grins Tejas. “Ultimately, I went back to my roots. Now, we do off-beat, Asian, mixed sounds, that is completely non-mainstream. In fact, we have an offer for an album in the UK, but apart from lack of time because we all have day jobs, we want to be non-commercial.”
While it remains a point of pride that he’s never had to cash in on his family name to get things done, neither does he consider it an obstacle. Branding is his business, designing is his passion and music is his hobby. “Crazy. That’s the way to be,” Tejas smiles.