The Other Side: Decoding Milind Deora’s impressive Instagram playlist
Indian politicians rarely ever show off their interests publicly but they should do it more often because it is a handy summation of who they are.
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It matters that Milind Deora chooses to follow a good number of indie and rock bands on his Instagram page because it humanises the politician we know. Deora is a senior Congress leader and former Union minister. He’s one of the “letter writers,” which refers to a group of 23 senior Congress leaders who recently wrote a letter to the party President, Sonia Gandhi, demanding several organisational changes.
But that's not what we are—or he is—talking about. On Twitter, Deora's pinned tweet is about him accompanying U2, when they came to Mumbai in 2019, to Mani Bhavan, which was the Congress's headquarters from 1917 to 1934. Deora follows several politicians, the usual, on the platform. But his preferences on Instagram reveal another side to him.
Milind Deora with the American musician George "Buddy" Guy. (Photo: Instagram/ milinddeora)
There, Deora follows several rock bands and artists like Guns N’ Roses, Slash, Queen, The Doors, Jimmy Page, Dave Grohl, U2, the Beatles, Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Metallica, and others.
Now, most of these are bands are well known to Indians who’ve studied in cities. In 2011, when Metallica postponed their debut show by a day, fans raided the stage, sparking a riot on the ground. But the list of indie bands — these are the bands that came to the fore during the 2000s as musicians began using the internet to reach audiences globally instead of signing with big record labels — that Deora follows is particularly interesting because it brings him, a politician, to the middle of a very small circle of fans who listen to similar music in the country. But musicians and fans have reinvented the space — and they've brought onboard new fans — since several Indian artists are shaping the culture of the internet instead of relying on it.
Deora follows a series of mid-2000 “internet bands.” He follows Arctic Monkeys, Oasis (including band members and brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher who’re known for their catty rivalry), The Strokes, Kings of Leon, The Lumineers, and Coldplay. That he follows Jamiroquai, a dance-funk group from the 1990s, leaves no doubt that he is a fan of the old-school indie industry.
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He also follows soul and pop artists like Alicia Keys, Lana Del Rey, Jon Batiste, Hans Zimmer, and Justin Beiber. It’s refreshing to see a politician use his Instagram account for fun, the way it is meant to be used.
It is not fascinating to me that he listens to the bands because many other people in the country, mostly those who had a computer and access to the internet, do. It is interesting because it repositions a senior leader as one of us. The Congress battles with its own relatability crisis, albeit in an entirely different context. But Deora, who predictably tweeted about President Obama’s summer playlist this year, reminds us of the hidden depths of music without formula.