Daily Recco, November 12: Kandisa by Indian Ocean, for your Diwali playlist

This weekend, if you have a Diwali party planned with friends, ensure you have Kandisa loaded on the playlist. Not only will it add to the magic of the festive mood, but will also bring that smile only nostalgia can bring.

 |  3-minute read |   12-11-2020
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At the dawn of the millennium, when CDs and cassette players were a lot more common than the likes of iPods and MP3 players, there came a fusion album by an Indian band. The minute you started playing the cassette or the CD, the opening track would be of an ancient Aramaic prayer — a 3000-year-old Semitic language that is said to have been spoken by Jesus. The prayer is still chanted in the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala.

The name of the band was Indian Ocean. The name of the album (and the title track) was Kandisa (released in March 2000). And if that was the period of your coming of age, we know that the fond smile on your face right now is because you are one of the many thousands who went into a frenzy when Kandisa was released — language barrier notwithstanding.

Kandisa was Indian Ocean’s Holy Grail. Incidentally, the word ‘Kandisa’ itself means ‘holy’ in Aramaic. The album was a super hit in those days and within months of being released, it sold 20,000 copies. It was Indian Ocean’s defining album and their best-selling ever. Just the opening track was enough to drive music fans into a tizzy in those days. The album pole-vaulted the band to a position in the Indian rock music circuit that few have reached till date, and none so near the time when Kandisa was released.

The Kandisa frenzy was not limited to Indian shores. Barely a year after the album was released, the band travelled abroad for the first time. They had concerts in London and then travelled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (18 concerts in 14 days and were nominated the Pick of the Fringe). The next year and two saw them having almost 40 concerts across four continents — in New Zealand, USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Indonesia. 

The album has seven tracks. Each one has a story behind it. For instance, the lyrics of the track Hille Le Jhakjor comes from a protest song written by Gorakh Pandey, a Bihari poet. The track Ma Rewa is a lively eulogy sung to the river Narmada. The composition is in the folk style of Madhya Pradesh. It comes from a cause very close to the band’s bass guitarist Rahul Ram’s heart — he was an activist with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, which stemmed from his PhD research on environmental toxicology from Cornell University. The Kashmiri lyrics in the track Kaun were composed by Indira Kilam — mother of the band’s percussionist and drummer Amit Kilam. The other tracks are Kya Maloom, Leaving Home and Khajuraho.

This weekend, if you have a Diwali party planned with friends, ensure you have Kandisa loaded on the playlist. Not only will it add to the magic of the festive mood, but will also bring that smile only nostalgia can bring.

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Writer

Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

Assistant Editor, DailyO

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