“Dirty Talk is the hottest LGBT event in town right now, and it has been gaining momentum with every edition. For the 8th edition that’s coming up, we’ve ironed out all our creases, and the show we’re going to put up is going to be bigger, better and more fun than ever before. The venue is really fantastic, and the line up is extremely well-curated. And then there’s the crowd, of course, that never fails to deliver the laughs and excitement at all the right junctures. It’s the crowd, and how much they enjoy it, that really makes the event what it is. All in all, it’s just a great place to show up, support and celebrate!”
Pooja Ruparel really knows how to make a case, one that we’re thoroughly disinclined to argue with on any count. Mark your calendars - Dirty Talk, an event that has been on an upswing and is quickly emerging as a torchbearer of inclusivity, is back in its 8th edition with its zealous drive to bridge the gap between queer and straight spaces. Vying for the much-coveted ‘most favourite act’ award, 5 performers will take the stage on the 23rd of Jan at Hoppipola, Khar, before a keen audience (and after maybe more than a few tipples). With music and poetry being the theme for the latest edition, we just had to ask our friends over at The Gaysi Family to give us the dirt on what we have to look forward to.
Actor/writer Pooja Ruparel has dabbled in a variety of performance arts ranging from professional theatre, stand-up comedy and even practised aikido, the Japanese martial art. As the director of the 8th coming of Dirty Talk, we decided to catch up with her in a snappy round of questions to find out a little bit more.
”I’ve been acting since I was very young,” she tells us. “About four years old, I guess. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of things before, and have even performed as a stand-up comic at Dirty Talk, and hosted it in the subsequent edition. I’m quite familiar with the LGBT community; my aunt abroad is gay, so I was introduced to the idea of being queer very young, and I absolutely love the community.”
Being no stranger to Dirty Talk, we asked her her opinion of the event and how she feels it has grown over the last 8 editions.
”I think Dirty Talk has really helped spread awareness,” she shares. “It’s something that people in the community can look forward to, and we bring to the fore a lot of important issues that require addressing. Plus, there’s always so much talent we’re discovering through this as a platform.”
“You can expect a mixed bag this time around,” she discloses. “The theme being music and poetry - and, as always, all things Gaysi - we have a bunch of different kinds of performances with some a cappella, some poetry and some folk music.”
Asked to describe the event is three words, her reply is prompt and unhesitating, “Melodious. Magical. Momentous.”
We went after the performers next, to find out what they have planned for us:
I. Suzanne D’mello of Raaga Trippin
The six-member vocal ensemble formed two years ago, has an unbridled passion for acappella music, inspired by ‘the concept of creating music non-instrumentally, solely depending on the sounds and rhythm created by the voice’ and they are driven by the idea of performing music, especially Bollywood music, in a way that hadn’t been done before.
”We were all already in the industry looking to do something new with music, that was niche yet commercial,” Suzanne D’mello of Raaga Trippin tells us. “We had offers from a couple of music channels and our first collaboration with MTunes was when the idea to do acappella versions of serveral Bollywood songs evolved. We did a cover of ‘Ek Main Aur Ek Tu’ and things really took off from there. People loved it! Various corporates approached us, and with collectives like Penne Masala’s ‘Evolution of Bollywood Music’ video that went viral, the idea of acappella music in Bombay, and India in general, took a real boost. There’s been no looking back since.”
This being their debut performance with Bombay audiences, Suzanne shares that the idea is just to present something fun that they enjoy doing.
”We’re doing a mix of primarily Western music for this performances,” she relates. “We have a ten-minute slot so we haven’t finalised any Bollywood tunes yet, but can’t wait to blow everyone’s minds and leave them stunned. This one’s guaranteed to be exciting.”
Three words to sum up what they have in store?
”Innovative. Fantastic. Original.”
Tanishk and Vayu, songwriters and musicians, are going to be performing at the upcoming Dirty Talk event, with their indie original composition ‘Upar upar’ finalised, with one more undisclosed tune still in the bag.
”Tanishk and I are trying to work in Bollywood,” Vayu tells us. “While Tanishk produces, I do a lot of composing, and we both sing. We’re still figuring out the rest of the musicians, as we’re not exactly a band, but we’re very excited about Dirty Talk and are really looking forward to it. We haven’t attended of the earlier editions, and we can’t wait to finally see it for ourselves. The Gaysi Family has been so nice and co-operative to us, it was actually Anuja’s idea that we come and perform. We had cold feet initially, but now things are coming together pretty well. We’ve never done this sort of thing before so it’s also kind of scary, but very exciting.”
Their three words to bring it together, “Exciting. Butterflies. New.”
III. Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe
“We don’t see the Mystic Kabir as a ‘saint’. To us, he is just a human being who had the guts to speak his mind.”
Neeraj Arya has been researching, understanding and performing the iconic verses of Kabir (Kabir ke Dohe) for almost seven years now, as a part of the band that performs adaptations of them set musically to a variety of styles such as pop, reggae, rock, folk fusion with some Carnatic flavours thrown in for good measure. Taking over lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Arya is joined at Dirty Talk 8.0 by Raman Iyer on the mandolin, Mukund Ramaswamy on violin, Viren Solanki on percussions and Poubuanpou Britto KC on bass guitar.
Presenting Kabir’s poetry in a contemporary way ‘without compromising on its lyrical beauty’, they subscribe to the notion that Kabir didn’t believe in boundaries and hence - why should they?
”Although the dohe are 700 years old, the content is so relevant even today that it makes you realise things have not changed that much,” Raman Iyer tells Homegrown. “We’re singing about humanity and equality - the basic human emotions have remained the same over the years, and Kabir has said and put into practice some things that are relevant across cultures today. Kabir’s poetry now only exists in an extremely classic space, there are a lot of remote folk artists such as Prahladji Tippaniya, Mukhtiyar Ali, Moorala Marwada, that most urban people haven’t heard. We approach the folk fabric of the tune with our sensibilities – the change in rhythm is conscious and we try to depart from the traditional North Indian touch.”
“This is the first event we are performing here, and we’re proud and happy to represent a community that’s been wrongly alienated through no fault of theirs,” Raman says. “They are basically living their life in the privacy of their own homes and society has a problem with that. As Kabir would say, ‘Sab ke andar Ram hain.’ Before different from you doesn’t make somebody deserving of being looked down upon. That’s sheer nonsense. As long youre not harming anyone physically or emotionally, love is beyond gender – we feel that it’s great that Bombay is showing its support, and that there are events like this that heterosexual people are also a part of. Lots of love, energy and alcohol – this is what I’m looking forward to. The rest of the world needs to know about this, and we hope we can play a small but significant role in achieving that.”
3 words to drive it home?
”Awesome. Celebration. Honest.”
IV. Suhaas Ahuja
Suhaas Ahuja has primarily been an actor, having worked in films like Talaash and Shor, and has worked extensively in theatre. Also having been heavily involved in music for a long time, he has worked as a composer for a few years as well.
”What I wanted to do within music was songwriting, but that’s been a little sporadic,” he tells us. “I’ve been focusing on that more now, and I’m getting the opportunity to do that with Dirty Talk, which I’m very excited about.”
“This is the first time I’m going to attend the event,” he says. “With everything that I’ve heard, read and sensed about it though - it sounds like a great event where people from LGBT community come to hang out and party. Every edition seems to have outdone the one preceding it, and it seems like a sexually charged atmosphere where everyone has a good time, with a healthy dose of irreverence. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’m looking forward to putting up a performance with good material.”
”I’ve got a ten-minute slot so I hope to get a couple of songs out there,” he goes on. “I’ve been working on my material, and hope to hit the right notes, so to speak. What I’m working on is still a work in progress - I’m just going to get up there with my acoustic guitar and pluck a few strings, looking at a healthy intersection between being light and serious, having fun and giving it meaning. I’ve been gravitating towards universality, rather than being specific, so it’s something we can all relate to.”
The key words being, “Forgiveness, Catharsis, Irreverence.”
Saattvic, having been involved with children’s theatre from a very young age, is an experienced actor who has performed under the direction of industry stalwarts including Sunil Shanbag, Aamir Raza Hussain, Sanjoy Roy, Quassar Padamsee and Neel Choudhuri. He is also a playwright and director, having written two full length and several short ones, as well as directed several, including two on the professional stage produced by his own Frontier Theatre. Also a trained classical musician and dancer, the seasoned performer has practised the tabla for 9 years under the guidance of Pt. Ashok Moitro (disciple of Padma Vibhushan Pt. Kishan Maharaj) in the Benares style and has also received formal training in Hindustani Vocal music at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi, and learnt basic Kathak from Smt. Urja Thakore Desai in London.
The multi-talented performer has used his musical and dance training in several of his theatrical performances, apart from performing at concerts in India and the UK, while he is actually an economist by training.
”This is my first time performing, though I’ve attended one event before to watch some of my friends perform,” Saattvic tells us. “I’m going to be performing a small piece written by Vikram Phukan about anal orgasm.”
His gig in three words would be, “Orgasm, anal, sex.”