The poor quality of air is a huge problem in almost all big cities around the world today. Indie artiste Osho Jain’s latest number, Kya karenge, focuses on the problem and talks about environmental conservation. It’s a thought-provoking number that reflects on environmental degradation, pollution and extinction. t2 spoke to the singer about his call to action.
What inspired you to record Kya karenge?
Kya karenge is a very important song, not just for me but for all of us in general. I’m very closely connected to nature and I think all of us are, we just lose touch with time. I’ve done a lot of solo travelling in the past and I feel reconnected. What I see is all the great places that I’ve been to, they’re slowly getting destroyed by us, and I just feel there’s a need to preserve things as they are and try to stop what we’re doing. All of these things inspired me to write Kya karenge.
When did you start focusing on environmental issues?
When I was a kid, in my house in Indore there were a lot of trees. We had a couple of mango trees. There were jamun trees, guava trees, and so on. Slowly, all of these just went away. And we were left with a big house and no trees. The house was big and the garden was huge as well, filled with greenery. Eventually, it was reduced to brick and mortar. When I realised this, it felt like something had changed.
Having a new house is nice, of course. But something was missing. I don’t know how much that thing has affected me. But I feel that it has some sort of connection to the song in a way that I felt at that point in my childhood as well. And I’ve kept feeling such things over time. I was living in a place that was full of trees and stuff. Eventually, all of those things went away. That’s where the emotions come from.
It’s a serious topic but how do you put it across ?
I think we have reached a point where we just see the commercial side of things… especially in our industry… it’s all about commercialisation of things, like big ads, big songs, and big movies. But the origin of art was about small things only. People used to talk about things that they didn’t like and things that were not morally correct or not nice in general. That was the whole point of any kind of art. Eventually, of course, it got commercialised. I think if I really feel strongly about something, it should reflect in my music. Even if it is something very serious, like climate change, people should know that it is something we can’t escape. All of us, all artistes, musicians, everyone should talk about things like these and create songs and art around these things.
What were the challenges?
I directed the music video. Sanchi (Mannotra) and I came up with the concept behind the video. It was very difficult for us to send out a big message through a video that is quite minimal. The topic is vast: climate change, and you can show it through a lot of montages. There can be a lot of stories to tell but we wanted to make it simple and subtle so that it doesn’t seem too preachy. I don’t want to be the one to preach and ask people to plant trees, and so on. I’m not here to give lessons. Kya karenge asks a question, which in itself is a message. I made the video from that point of view. The line “Jab tare nazar nahi ayenge tab kya karenge?” asks people to sit back and think about their actions that might degrade the environment.
How do you think the song can bring about a change?
We need a starting point, right? When people are conversing, they’re touching upon such important issues as well. Wherever we’re going for shows, we are planning to work with NGOs and with our upcoming tour in December, we’re planning to spread the message on the importance of planting trees. It can’t happen in a day, so I’m constantly in touch with people to make it happen. Another thing that I practise is, when we’re on stage and we’re given plastic bottles, we try to replace them with some environment-friendly options. We’re talking about the environment and also about things we learnt in school. We wrote essays on making Earth a greener and better planet. Once we grew up, we lost connection with the topic. I think our song has a nostalgic lilt. As a kid, I thought why is moral science an extra subject? It’s so weird when I think about it now. It should have been like one subject where you can’t fail, where you have to work hard because the subject taught all about environment conservation, which is the need and goal of the hour. I think not making it an essential subject is an issue.
What are your upcoming projects?
I did two songs for a show called Permanent Roommates; I produced and composed songs for the film Dhak Dhak, which was released this month; I sang for the film Tejas; the work with Coke Studio was released as well. I’ve collaborated with Nucleya for my upcoming number. I’m hoping the same will continue until March.