Heard of NH7? It’s only one of the hottest music festivals in the country. In Pune. The most happening city in the country. Mag kay!
We may believe cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are the happening destinations of India, while Pune is just about nowhere in the scene. That might be true in a way, for we have not got the best of International artistes visiting us as most shows are held in the big cities. However, the Pune music scene is definitely on the rise. Since ages, we are the hosts of the biggest Indian Classical Music festival in the world and the place for Hindustani and Carnatic exponents to showcase their best. The Sawai Gandharva Music Festival got Punekars used to the ‘sounds that make us feel blessed to have ears’. The NH7 Weekender is doing quite the same, in terms of different genres of music.
The NH7 Weekender first began in Pune (yes, it started in our city, thus proving the saying, “All great things are born in Pune”), in 2010. Now in its 4th year, the madness begins with the city that helped start it all. Here is what the Punekar did at the festival.
Enjoyed the music, of course!
Well now it wasn’t so obvious, for the kind of music played at the festival is not one that I am used to. This is the Engraji dhinchak music, played at decibels higher than the ones played at Ganpati. The quality of the speakers and music is better than the songs than those played at the mandals, thank God for that! The music at the festival was enjoyable and there was something for everyone, even me! The Indian Ocean’s gig was oh-so-amazing and the band indulged in a jugalbandi too, which helped an admirer of the ‘different’ kind of music enjoy at the festival. Even the other bands rocked, especially Vir Das’ Alien Chutney. Though the language was English, the topic was relevant to India and the Manmohan Singh song got everyone excited. Some instances of a band talking in a different language did happen but sadly I was the only one shouting ‘Marathi bol!’ or things like ‘It’s Pune, not Poona’. It was this that made me realise the phrase, stand out from the crowd.
The music made it an event to look forward to, for it’s not every day one stands in front of speakers as huge as a 6-feet tall (comparing it with my height) playing the beats so loud, we could totally feel the vibrations! Maybe it really was loud or maybe it was a sensation brought in due to the spirits.
Drinking made it all seem heavenly
The crowd at NH7 was one that would make your eyeballs pop out, I will talk about it in vivid detail later. What the crowd required, was a small amount of booze to get them in the festive spirit. Although the booze was available only to those above the age of 25, people found their way of getting it. That and smoke too (some had stuff too, if you know what I mean). It is a wonder how they even got it in, the very sight of a huge, beefy, black bouncer made me piss my pants! When he asked me to show him my wallet, I thought I was being mugged! Anyways, the booze was an element that made the atmosphere all the more amazing, helping me enjoy the next thing to come.
Bird watching on FC Road is passé. The sight here will be etched in my mind for days!
What makes the festival one of India’s ‘Happiest festival’ is the crowd, most comprising of people between the age group of 20-27. This also meant more than half the crowd couldn’t buy their own drinks, yet they were happy (the above-mentioned point will tell you why). The place was magical for one got to see women without scarfs and not in their usual head-to-toe dressing. The festival made one turn their head left and right and sometimes, take a weird-extra turn to look at the scene behind as well. The neck exercises would get painful later, but even though one focused in one single direction, there was never a sight one did not enjoy. Bird watching on FC Road is passé. The sight here will be etched in my mind for days!
PS: Sorry, we have no images here. We were too busy ogling!
Hogged and hopped
Punekars enjoy food, period. The food at NH7 was descent and a little on the expensive side. You did not get the usual Puneri food, which made me laugh at an interesting conversation I had with my grand mom. When I explained what NH7 is, giving reference to Sawai, I was asked, “Kay khalla mag? Bhel ani vadapav ka?”. There was nothing of the usual, pohe, upma, khichdi or dosa, and the chaha was replaced with booze. The menu included delicacies ranging from Chicken Biryani, Burgers to Arabic and Lebanese food. And although the menu was different, I loved it. With the food were various stalls, some selling posters to others selling items that one would not find anywhere else (NH7 merchandise). It was something that attracted a lot of women folk (shopping *cough* shopping).
The NH7 was 3 days of total bliss, which made the weekends feel very special and made it seem like being in a different place altogether. Pune may not need another NH7; what it does need is a bigger one.
There was much more to NH7 than this. It was an experience once cannot explain. The event was extremely well planned, with designated parking for those visiting the festival. There were bus services to get them to and fro from the location, called the ‘Shuttle Service’. Listening to songs like ‘Tera yahaan koi nahi’ after a day of attending gigs, getting sloshed and looking around was somehow magical, we were humming those tunes and clapping to it too. It seemed more like the sight one would see at a school picnic.
The NH7 was 3 days of total bliss, which made the weekends feel very special and made it seem like being in a different place altogether. Pune may not need another NH7; what it does need is a bigger one. And judging by the way the festival has grown in just a few years, that won’t be a distant dream. To know what it was like being at NH7, one HAS to be at NH7.