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FWD gets in conversation with guitar virtuoso Baiju Dharmajan, the string whisperer.

Words by Likhitha P Nair    Photographs by Aghil Menon

Almost four years ago, while straying online in search of some interesting music, I stumbled upon ‘Sacred Science’ – a track that blends Njeralath Harigovindan’s sopanam with Karsh Kale’s percussion, bridged breathtakingly by the tone of Baiju Dharmajan’s guitar. Being a three-time winner of the Jack Daniel’s Annual Rock Award in association with Rolling Stone India, Baiju has redefined the music taste of every Malayali, adding some sprintz. For over a decade that he worked with Kochi-based rock band ‘Motherjane’, but has most remained as an independent artist. Baiju who started his life as a performer when he was five, has jumped genres and borders, while staying loyal to the heartfelt music he creates. Currently, he leads the music of ‘Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate’ – a four-piece carnatic rock band.

Walking into his jam room gave me a cultural shock. Drum sets and guitars camouflaged into the walls of a wornout centenarian home that screamed metamorphosis. Birds chirping and the afternoon breeze in-sync with Baiju’s strumming seemed like poetic justice. His latest album ‘Sweet Indian Child of Mine’ is a well-tended rendition of the Guns N’ Roses classic, set in a malayali background of greenery and paddy fields.

Behind the Indian Child


The 10-second commercial on a national music channel where “Sweet Child of Mine” is played on a sitar was Baiju’s accidental inspiration to make ‘Sweet Indian Child of Mine’. Then he met Gireesh, a musician honoured to possess the voice of rocker guru Axl Rose. When Baiju heard Gireesh at a concert a few years ago, he became an instant fan. “I went and met him right away. This was couple of years back”. ‘Sweet Indian Child of Mine’ was born out of this bond that the duo formed.“I had initially made an electronic version of the song, with distortion. It didn’t seem right.” Later, he decided to make the track entirely acoustic. The song borrows sounds from a guitar, gajra and base guitar. “Production is my latest craze. It excites me more than playing just one instrument. The scope that programming offers to a musician is fascinating,” adds Baiju.

Soul Music

“When I think about my music, my father’s vinyl records with old movie tracks and ghazals rush to my mind. I will be at ease playing a malayalam song compared to a Jimi Hendrix one. Western music is what I acquired. I work to perfect it, and I take pride in the process involved. But the music I have experienced is far from it, and I always think that has kept me rooted to my soul.” Listening to his old tracks and new projects, sitting in his jamroom was an enlightening experience. It was as if his music was scattered in the dim-lit rooms of the house, waiting to march at his command. “A band is both a curse and a blessing for a musician. While it teaches you to tolerate and accomodate different styles and brings in a certain discipline, a band is also a box – a genre box that you are hesitant to break out of,” he adds.

Between the Strings


Baiju has worked with a spectrum of artists from all over the world. “Most of them come live with me. Creativity doesn’t happen when you are shut inside a room, at least not for me,” he says. “Karsh used to tell me that Pandit Ravishankar is someone I must definitely meet. Apparently when you tell him about your music, he treats you like an equal. That is how simple an artist should be. Talent should make one enthusiastic and humble”. I remember preparing for this interview with utmost anticipation. But I left Baiju Dharmajan’s jam room with gratitude and affection, the satisfaction of having shared thoughts with an unapologetic musician and modest human being. One could rephrase Elliot’s words to describe his passion – “he is the music, till it lasts”.




Beyond The Clouds: Revealing Mumbai Like Never Before!



Image from:

Beyond The Clouds is a movie that runs deep into the social lives of ghettos. It is about how someone in search of making quick money lands into the nasty game of the underworld in Mumbai. This movie explores the noir and sensitive aspects of playing the jackpot. It’s a story about love, loss, and realisation

Text Credits: Shibul Pavithran    

Oscar-nominated Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi, known for social realism in festival favourites such as Children of Heaven and Baran, might have travelled far from home for his latest venture, Beyond the Clouds, but his spirit of storytelling survives the jet lag. The film stars Ishaan Khatter and Malavika Mohanan and was shot extensively in Mumbai, will be released April 20th, across theatres in India.

The film revolves around two siblings, living in the Dhobi Ghat and going about their lives, when suddenly tragedy strikes. From hiding a pack of drugs to a gruesome arrest, leading to the struggle to break free, which seems to be the main crux of the film. After we watched the 2:16 minute trailer, our hearts were forced to feel the emotions of the relationship between Ishaan and Malavika’s character, but in the bargain the story seemed to miss our attention. One second watch, it’s easier to understand the plot that revolves around the want to make quick money and a boy who gets himself involved with a dangerous drug cartel to earn a quick buck.

It is highly unsubtle and impassioned Mumbai melodrama where Majid takes an unexpected leaf from the Bollywood book in his first step towards Indian cinema.  However, it is inevitable to draw a comparison between the feel of Beyond the Clouds and Slumdog Millionaire.

Source: youtube

Mumbai city also plays a very central character in the movie. Cinematographer Anil Mehta’s (Secret Superstar, Lagaan, Veer-Zaara) lens glides, soars and dips through the dingy streets and jungle like structures with adequate majesty and filth, making it look raw and beautiful at the same time. The film pays tribute to this sleepless city, like countless films have done before — Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s classic 1989 film on the underworld, Parinda; Mani Ratnam’s 1995 inter-faith love story Bombay, Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya, and more recently, Anand Gandhi’s 2013 debut film, Ship of TheseusBeyond the Clouds stands to join this impressive list on an equal race.

Also the music is composed by A.R Rahman and has a very entertaining and magnetic feel to it.  The film certainly has many factors that make it a must watch!

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Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan Will Lead The New Movie ‘Bharat’



Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra
Images from: and

Priyanka Chopra is all set to come back to Bollywood after a long break. The actress will be seen sharing the big screen with Salman Khan for the movie Bharat

Text Credit: Nikhil Wilson

After making her presence felt in Hollywood, Priyanka Chopra is all set to come to Bollywood to reunite with actor Salman Khan for the fourth time for the movie Bharat. Even though the plot is not revealed, it is said that Salman will be seen in more than two looks. It is also revealed that Priyanka’s character is one that people should keep an eye on. Her character will be the catalyst to the most crucial turning point in the film, say reports.

The film is directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. Ali has directed two major Bollywood hits Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai. Priyanka, who has proven her talent in Hollywood, is expected to bring the film to a more of global level. Ali posted a picture showing the project has been launched in his twitter account.

Fans will be eager to see what the dynamic duo will bring to the table, with the coming together of Priyanka and Salman once again on the big screen. The film is scheduled to hit the theatres in 2019.

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Is The Break Up Of Nikki Bella And John Cena A Part Of WWE’s Script?



John Cena and Nikki Bella Break up
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John Cena and Nikki Bella ends their six-year-long relationship just weeks before the ceremony

Text Credit: Nikhil Wilson

It surely is one of the toughest jobs to go up to your love and propose them. Last year, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar and actor John Cena proposed his girlfriend Nicole Bella (Nikki) in front of 75,000 people at the grandest stage of them all, Wrestlemania 33

However, the couple announced earlier today that they have called it quits just weeks before their wedding ceremony, after having got engaged in April last year. The duo has been dating for the last six years and this news has made the WWE fans go crazy. While some suspect it’s just a part of the WWE script, there are many who still believe this is truly the end of the power couple. The pair has been part of their own TV reality show named Total Bellas.

There have been up and downs in WWE’s couple plots and let’s just hope this would be just like what happened between Elizabeth Ann Hulette (Miss Elizabeth) and Randy Savage after they had their big break up and were finally reunited at WrestleMania 7.

This is the second major celebrity split so far this year, after Hollywood actors Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum.

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