Multi-talented artiste, percussionist and activist Madame Gandhi’s latest video is a special one because it has been conceptualised and produced by an all-female team and features queer, trans, female and gender non-conforming cast members.
This one also marks her first-ever video shot in India. When asked about Indian music she enthusiastically told us, “I love Bhangra! and I love 90s Bollywood soundtracks like ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ and ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’. In an interview with Bombay Times, she talks about her song, her India connect and more…
Tell us about your song and what inspired you to create a song like that?
‘Waiting For Me’ is a global protest anthem about moving away from conformity and restriction and into nature and freedom. It is about valuing the feminine in all of us, and our ancestors and lineage. It is about valuing how much the Earth gives to us, and about questioning problematic societal norms. The music video, directed by Misha Ghose and produced by Aastha Singh, illustrates this message.
Most of my work is about moving from oppression to liberation. I like making uplifting, percussive anthems about being the freest versions of ourselves, in order to serve our community and our world. I like making music that has style, that sounds unique, and cuts through with a message. I like making music that I would want to listen to. This song checks those boxes.
Where did you shoot the video?
I shot this video in the outskirts of Mumbai, in Virar. We shot one day in a forest and one day in a studio. I knew I wanted to shoot this video in India because socially it lends itself to my South Asian heritage, and I knew the colors, visuals and team I wanted could not be found anywhere else. I wanted to celebrate aspects of my Indian heritage that I love, things like fashion, femininity, freedom, nature, dancing and music, while critiquing aspects of my heritage that I don’t love, like uniformity, lack of critical thinking taught in the school system and restrictive environments for learning or working.
You worked with a lot of locals…
I had the best time working with stylists Kanika Karvinkop, and Indrakshi Pattanaik, to source local fashion from largely Indian female designers. I draw a lot of inspiration from my mom, Meera Gandhi, who since childhood would so effortlessly mix her Indian fashion with her global fashion. She might pair a sari with a Chanel jacket, and similarly, in my video, you see us pair a blazer from a Nigerian outlet called Bloke, with a vintage sari. I am also wearing pants in that look, which represents my own connection to freedom, being able to run and dance and drum in any outfit I wear.
What is the importance and relevance of this video in today’s context?
Our team shot this video in February 2020 without knowing how serious the global pandemic would be, and how long the lockdown would last. We feel proud to put it out this week because we hope it will give our audience a sense of healing and relief and joy by reflecting back to all of us what we each are feeling. In the video you see 10 school girls moving from a repressive environment to running and drumming freely in the forest…something that I’m sure many of us wish we could be doing during these times. As an American Indian, and as someone who has been showing up weekly for the Black Lives Matter protests here in Downtown LA, I also felt that this video would reflect a sense of solidarity in how systems of white supremacy and Western obsession negatively impact a variety of different cultures and global ethnicities.
Tell us about your India connect…
My whole family lives across India – in Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Calcutta and Goa. I lived in Mumbai between 1997-2000 where I attended the St. Anne’s School (the inspiration for my music video), and had the best time. In 2019 I was in India every two months, for a total of six trips, for various tours, performances and keynote speeches. I love coming to India so much, and I can’t wait to return when it is safe to travel again. I miss our culture’s warmth, kindness, love energy, food, colour, vibrancy, humour, sassiness, friendship, depth and dancing.
By Debarati S Sen for Times of India