In a more sensible era nearly two decades ago, music channels like Channel [V] did a lot of great programmes. One of those was launching the Coke [V] Popstars — a music competition that brought out some of the best talents of those times. The winners of the first season of the show went on to form India's first all-girl music band — Viva.
The band comprised Seema Ramchandani, Pratichee Mohapatra, Neha Bhasin, Mahua Kamat and Anushka Manchanda, and they ruled the Indian pop music industry like pros till they were together. Not only was their remarkable music refreshing (the songs still bring a whiff of fresh air), but the band in itself was among the first strong voices of feminism in India at the dawn of the millennium. Now forgotten, but at that point, the band was known for its rebellious act of defiance against the standards of the pop music industry that was ruled by the boys. True, we had the likes of Alisha Chinai and Raageshwari, who gave us some truly memorable numbers. But none had the strong streak of the bold resistance of societal conventions the way Viva and their songs did. And what amazing songs they were!
For those who have grown up in the 1990s and 2000s, songs from their first eponymous album — VIVA! (released in 2002) — were nothing short of anthems.
Who does not remember the very peppy Hum Naye Geet Sunaye?
Or Ja Sakte Ho and Kaali Mai Diya Silai that spoke of asserting oneself, openly questioned gender discrimination, took patriarchy by its horns and smashed it into smithereens.
Or the very inspiring Jaago Zaraa that made a comeback when the world needed it the most — during the lockdown.
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The lyrics were penned by Javed Akhtar, who gave his best words to the songs. The songs inspired a generation of girls to become the new-age women who broke the shackles, dressed the way they wanted, spoke their minds, chased their dreams and questioned conventions. The best of all was that this band of all women was celebrated for challenging the stereotypes and being outspoken — something that was fabled till then.
We strongly recommend you (re)listen to VIVA! over the weekend.