Photoblog: Sound Engineering In India

So before my story takes me back across the pond here is a little photoblog with some of my favourite pics of shows I worked on in India as a sound engineer:

Sunburn, Mumbai, 2013


First Stop for the RedBull Tourbus! Wilson College Mumbai, 2013




Harley Davidson show, Mehboob Studios, Mumbai, 2013




NH7 Festival Pune, 2013




And in India we do this with our digital multicore!



It has all been too much for Savio and Ram!




Russel Peters, Bandra MMRDA ground, Mumbai, 2013





India Bike Week 2013, Goa




Modi Rally, Mumbai Racecourse – too many delay stacks to count and more than a million very patriotic Indians!



Vandan – probably the most amazing percussion set-up I have ever seen!




Sleeping – a common theme on Indian shows!


Very posh wedding! Mumbai Racecourse, 2013



Sunburn, Mumbai, Racecourse, 2013


Nice to see Josh Wink again – bizarre reminiscing over the last time we met working on together in Cardiff some ten years back- bit of a different experience!


Jain Cultural event


Nicky Romero, Sunburn, Mumbai




Not something you would see on an EDM show in UK – an offering to the gods! Complete with coconuts, incense and flowers – a baba also came and blessed the show. The show was awesome…



Hands firmly in the air!


Cabling up K1, Indian style!


EVC, Ambay Valley, 2013






Yep, they had hot air balloon rides at this festival!


Zambhala Yoga Festival 2013, Goa


Admiring the K1 set-up for Supersonic festival Goa, 2013.





Love the sea of mobile phone lights – the new “lighters in the air!”





Bandra Bandstand, Mumbai – YouTube Awards




Setting up for EDM party in a hotel in Nashik.



The Freedom to be Funny In India (and some lovely Art Deco)

ImageSitting in the manager’s office of the stunning Art Deco Liberty Cinema flicking through the actual original programme from the 1947 opening I could hardly contain my excitement – this was a real treat! The elderly but spritely owner Mr Nazir Hoosein was a delight to talk to – sharing with us the rich historical tapestry of the building – it’s triumphant marathon runs of Bollywood Blockbusters and star studded premieres, followed by a sad decline in business as the multiplexes opened in soulless shopping malls and the clientele shifted downmarket, fouling the once plush red carpet with chewing gum and tobacco spit.  It was this transposition that had led to my purpose for being there today – the cinema had turned it’s back on commercial film screenings, extended it’s stage, treated its walls to improve its acoustics and now has become a top venue for shows and events, such as the comedy show I was working on the techincals of that day.

100_3242 100_3239

Aptly named “Liberty” after the declaration of Indian Independence that coincided with its birth, the building stands proud and opulent, capturing with its architecture the sense of freedom and optimism that marked the era. Little did we know, a maverick energy was to once again to surge through its corridors and fill the auditorium that very next day.

The Royal Turds is a satirical Bollywood award show by premiere comedy collective All India Bakchod. To be honest I knew pretty much nothing about the actors, films, politicians and singers they were joking about, but still found them to be very funny so I guess you can take that to be a credit to Indian comedy. Some of the comedians kindly explained some of the jokes to me in the wings in between acts and were generally a very nice bunch to fit microphones onto. So when I came backstage on the second day to fiddle around with the guys belts and packs and turn them on before the show I was most upset on their behalf to find various worried looking production guys talking with them about whether they should pull the show and even all future performances!

100_3233 100_3234

It turned out that an email with a distinctly terrorist tone had been sent to them protesting at their jokes about political parties and various gods and warning them to “expect the worst at today’s show” as a consequence! I asked one of them who it was they had pissed off – apparently it wasn’t too bad – a nutty right wing religious fringe group (as opposed to I guess, any important or influential politicians).  Once the safety of the audience had been established, a gaggle of police with sticks had installed themselves outside the building and anything too controversial was quickly edited from the script the show went on as planned. It opened with a big projected screenshot of the email and a speech from the comedians about how they were going to perform their art anyway and if anyone didn’t like it they could bloody well leave now! The audience cheered accordingly.

It all made me feel very lucky to be British – as I got scolded for rather smugly pointing out – we can take the piss out of whomever we want to in the UK and not have to worry about crazies with guns and  bandanas! I asked one of the comedians if he had experienced such threats or political/religious censorship before – apparently most Indian comedians choose to stay away from politics and religion for just these reasons (i.e. wanting to keep all their arms and legs intact!) and yes there had been an incident of being forced by the powers that be to apologize for a political joke on stage before. While incidents like this weren’t common, he expected this not to be the last – if you want a ‘safe’ career in Indian comedy you had better just stick to good old-fashioned racism and sexism jokes!

Once again I had a joke made about me onstage by Tanmay Bhat (highly embarrassing but definitely an honour!) – “This is Caroline – she’s British – nice to see she is now working for us!” rather appropriate for the Liberty Cinema!


You can find out more about the very funny All India Bakchod here:

Air conditioning, Indian Celebs and Massive Roaches!


So this week I have mainly been doing shows in the NCPA. It has been pretty nice to be in an auditorium actually built for theatre with some kind of half decent acoustics. The salubrious surroundings were much more akin to the venues I’m used to in Europe- clean, carpeted, modern, proper rigging as opposed to scaff towers ‘leveled’ using piles of sand (!) In typical Indian style though the air conditioning was turned up to arctic. All the Indians swanning around in short sleeves were casting bemused looks in the direction of the one foreigner in the building huddled in the corner wearing three jumpers and a wooly hat!

I just can’t take the cold- it is one of the main reasons I don’t live in England in the winter, but here freezing your arse off is a desirable state of being. I wonder how long the novelty would last though if any of them actually experienced the reality of the UK climate. Cold in short bursts can be refreshing and snow with it’s childhood snowman building associations enchanting, but the endless daily trudge of being blown into work by an icy wind interlaced with freezing sleet or being able to see your breath inside your house is basically traumatising and there is nothing romantic or cozy about that version of cold. Sitting for hours on end shivering under the glacial blast of the NCPA AC conjured up such images for me and I was pleased when the venue filled with people raising the temperature a few vital degrees enough to remove my rather attractive wooly hat which I’m told along with my stagehand black clothing made me look a burglar!

And so entered the stage Shaan – probably India’s most famous Bollywood singer – before tonight I shamefully had absolutely no idea who he was – a fact that like my aversion to the cold shocked my Indian colleagues. Surprisingly vertically challenged (!) with a winning smile permanently superglued to his face he entertained the predominantly middle aged and exclusively damn rich audience for around two and a half hours – still not quite sure about the fact he was reading some of his lyrics off an iPad on a music stand (get a subtle auto-cue surely?) Still, the show was glittering, the band was tight, there was a troupe of cute kids doing some awesome dancing, a minor stage invasion (not what i had expected from the middle-aged, middle class clientele) and although some of the numbers had a karaoke-esque feel to them (none of the songs were his own – they are all from movie soundtracks so maybe not that surprising) I was sold on Hindi love songs and a new Shaan fan!

11012014460 11012014463

The following day and another exceptionally short celebrity took the stage – Indian comic Vir Das presented four shows for a comedy festival. What a crash-course education in Indian pop-culture the weekend was turning out to be for me! I’ve come to the conclusion that Indian comedy is well funny even though I didn’t understand the political gags or have a clue who any of the sports personalities or famous actors being joked about were. There are certain similarities to British humor – especially the gleeful use of sarcasm (a concept that completely goes over many other nationalities heads), a shining example of which was presented in the finale of the day – a celebrity roast of two Bollywood actors I’d once again, never heard of. I got into the spirit of it all anyway and even made a joke myself as well as finding myself the butt of one:

When a young stagehand stepped on my toes and then couldn’t stop apologising profusely. I told him not to worry – it was nothing – try standing in the ladies carriage on the Western railway in the morning rush hour! (See my previous blog on Mumbai public transport.)

During the first show without warning they invited several of the audience onto stage. I handed one guy a microphone who promptly switched it off then proceeded to look confused as to why it didn’t work when he tried to speak into it. I had to run on stage and swop it for another (still wearing my rather sexy Christmas style wooly jumper!) while the comic joked, “there goes your pay check!” Thanks! Let’s hope they edit that bit out!


last but not least and this photo really doesn’t do it justice I just wanted to share with you the moment where I looked down and thought “has someone put something in my drink? The train floor is moving under my seat!” and realised it was about 50 massive as you like cockroaches – minging!