‘Every artist is an exaggerator, and I also do it in my writing’

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Ankur Tewari 36, musician
Ankur Tewari 36, musician,
Photo: Prarthna Singh

What pushed you to make music?
Studying hotel management in Bhopal, I realised that I didn’t want to go into this field. I had been playing music in school and by college I was singing in a restaurant. It was a naive thought — I’ll make music because I don’t know anything else. My family was supportive, though it took them a long time to understand what I was doing, because it took me a long time to understand what I was doing.
Roorkee, Bhopal, Mumbai, Delhi; what role have cities played in your life?
I am a story junkie. I collect stories of people in whatever city I am in. These merge in my songs and my writing. I’ll place a character from one city in another’s situation. Every artist is a bit of an exaggerator and I exaggerated these stories while writing my songs and my scripts. It’s like buying vegetables and then experimenting with the dish you want to cook.
What’s your musical style?
I am a minimalist, lyric-based musician, because for long I couldn’t afford an electric guitar. Even if I could, an amp would have been useless in Delhi’s power cuts. I stuck to acoustic guitars. Words had to be interesting to catch attention. My music, by default, became about words.
Why were music labels slow to accept you?
Labels are about mass production and profits. They follow trends. Then, the trend was remixes. I never made that music as I never understood why anyone would crowd their tracks with so many beats.
How did your band The Ghalat Family come about?
After my album release, I told my drummer Sidd Coutto that I wanted to play live with guys with good humour. You hear these horror stories of band members hating each other. Our name is a take on ghalat faimi. We write open-ended songs. People draw multiple meanings, which leads to a misunderstanding of what we meant to say.
Will you get creative freedom directing for Yashraj Films, a mainstream company?
Yes. They approached me for my stories. They’re trying to do something different. In fact, on reading my first draft, producers Aditya Chopra and Ashish Patil told me to not play it safe and put more of me in the script.