Ska! Ska! Ska! For Tihar: An Unlikely Gig
17 May 2012
Asia’s largest jail recently unlocked its gates to play host to Ska! Ska! Ska! for Tihar!
This curious and surreal event was orchestrated by Ska Vengers keys player/manager Stefan Kaye in a bid to improve the musical facilities for inmates, having been personally involved in the music programme inside the jail last year.
Our introduction to a world that seemed so far away from a prison courtyard came after much frisking and being escorted through countless locked gates. A large bandstand and garden area were dressed as if preparing for a wedding with 1000+ convicts patiently seated. White satin chairs were carefully placed stage-side for VIPs present at the occasion where plenty of chai and soda was being consumed.
After the obligatory introductory speeches and pleasantries were over the show began with the boundless energy and attitude unique to Bboy collective SlumGods. These young kids were in a perpetual state of movement, utilising every opportunity to try out moves and flip off things. The rawness of their show whipped the crowd into a frenzy encouraging impromptu performances from the inmates who leapt out of the crowd taking centre stage in the large space separating inmates from performers. Beatboxing ensued alongside a short appearance from Berlin based producer and vocalist Sasha Perera (Jahcoozi).
The musical extravaganza continued with a performance from The Flying Souls, a group that formed inside the jail, mentored originally by Menwhopause. They sang a quick succession of original tracks as well as a rendition of a well-known Bollywood track (with the permission of the jails General Director seated in the front row).
The Ska Vengers eventually took to the stage looking sharp and raring to go. Stefan cheekily greeted the audience with a "it’s good to be back" before front lady Samara charmed and wooed the crowd with her touching and sensitive introduction to the band (in Hindi) who went on to deliver a seamless and polished set to their new audience. Putting the mesmerising Samara C in front of 1000+ male convicts must have been a daunting prospect for the lady who usually takes centre stage in show-stopping outfits (toned down for this affair)...
The band have gone on to receive much accolade for their performance at Tihar Jail. The relevance of their lyrics may have gone unnoticed by the audience of inmates however international press have recognised the powerful message that this gig has sent out to the world from Asia’s largest jail.
You can watch a short film documenting the days events below:
Video Credit: Colorblind Production
Photo Credit: Sachin Soni