Monday, May 18, 2015

[Interview] Coffee with MARS

Four friends who share a rapturous passion for music… An awesome foursome for who music is happiness, passion and obsession… Meet MARS – a budding music band from Cognizant Coimbatore.

Prologue: A couple of months back, Team MARS was performing at the RS Puram Ladies Club for the ‘Cool Sunday Santhai’. The band members were good friends of mine and I used it as a ruse to enter the club. Let me assert here that – my interest was only in good Music and NOT in good Ladies. :D Well, anyways that was my first tasting of their music… and wasn't I impressed!!

We stole this weekend to gather together at Rajesh’s place for a quick chat… Read on.

Team MARS - From Left - Rajesh, Sandeep, Mahesh & Anju

Sandeep is the lead singer of the band and has an expressive, engaging voice. His songs come from the heart, tugs at your heartstrings and bowls you over. You got to hear him sing ‘Tum hi ho’… or 'En kadhale'. He is the only bachelor on the band – And the fact that his masterpieces are all romantic songs is just a coincidence – is what he wants us to believe.

Anju is the female lead singer of the band. She is been a regular winner at Celebrating Cognizant events and is a trained classical singer. Hers is an open-throated voice and her high notes can easily go through the top of the roof… Her Malayalam classics are a treat to the ears!!

Rajesh is the seniormost singer of the band… A multitalented person, who is also a blogger, a photographer and an awesome cook among others. He’s happily married to Shyamala (also a Cognizanti) and is father to a sweetypie, Shruti.

Mahesh is a singer but finds the technical side more interesting. He keeps an eye for good music and takes care of everything behind-the-scene like song-selection, sound mastering, mixing and improvisations.

The blogger with Team MARS

Guys, How did you come together and form a band?

Sandeep: We have known each other for a few years and share the same passion for singing. We were all individual singers, already good within our own comfort zones – but performing as a group was a different cup of tea altogether. We formed the band in January 2015 and started off with personal favourites. We improvised over the weeks and then gave our first public performance at ‘Grand gala night’ on Feb 14, at ‘Chais’, Race Course, Coimbatore. The crowd loved the show and we knew that we had hit the right note.

How has the journey been so far?

Sandeep: In the short span of 3 months, we have given almost a dozen performances. On March 8, we performed to a huge crowd at Brookefields and the show was a runaway success.

We then did a few shows with the French Travelling Musician – Robin. (You would remember him from this article). His guitar and harmonica added a lot of life to our music and it was a wonderful learning experience to sing with an international performer... Shows for the ‘Cool Sunday Santhai’ editions and the one in our own Cognizant, on April 27th are close to our hearts!!

What is your brand of music?

Rajesh: We are all trained singers – so we do classical ragas, soulful melodies and folk songs the best. But there are also popular numbers that connect with the crowd. Our music is mostly desi-fusion and medleys. (Saying this, they launch into the song – ‘Chaiyya-Chaiyya’)

[Their music is an eclectic mix of songs that range from classical ragas to peppy club numbers. So, when you listen to a power-packed 'Chaiyya-Chaiyya', a South-Indian 'Keerthanam' creeps in unnoticeably... When they sing 'Dil Se Re', it somehow becomes 'Mahaaganapatim'... Imagine Dosa with Paneer-butter-masala and you'll get an idea of the extremity of their experimentation. But trust me, it is a treat to the senses.]

Anju, what has been your most memorable experience?

Anju: We were performing at Chaai’s, race-course on Valentine’s Day. There was a modest crowd and I was singing ‘Malaree-Mounamaa’ with Sandeep, when someone from the audience came up and complimented us… He turned out to be Kiru-Kiru-Krishna from Radio Mirchi and I was elated to meet him!!

Team MARS performing with Robin at Cogniznat, Coimbatore
Guys, Temme – Why the name MARS?

Mahesh: Well, the name is just a play on words. It is the first letters of our names – Mahesh, Anju, Rajesh and Sandeep… [Rajesh’s wife, Shyamala, claims credit for the name as she brings in hot coffee for all of us]

Tell us what keeps you going?

Rajesh: We love music. But more importantly, we love ourselves… we truly love each other’s company. Each practice session is soo fun filled. We are one family – that includes our partners, little Shruti and now you!

Anju… And what is your fuel?

Anju: Without Jithu’s rock-solid support, I can’t even dream of doing this. [She glances at Jithu – her hubby, another Cognizanti and a professional photographer. He is busy clicking and winks from behind the camera]

Who is your biggest supporter?

Sandeep: Several friends and well-wishers. But, the one person we are eternally indebted to is – Shanti Suresh, from Coimbatore Talkies. She’s our friend, mentor and guide.

Mahesh: We must also thank Meena Krishnakumar and Sujatha Murthy for all the support they have always lent us...

What plans for the future?

We will definitely keep evolving. We have several dreams – doing a promo video, an independent song, a live band etc. We are open to meeting like-minded people. Like, we could do with a good guitarist or a percussionist at the moment…

On an overdrive...
[The team launches into an evergreen club song, 'Ek do teen...' and I can't help but groove with it. Just when they go into an overdrive, Shyamala reminds us that it is a house and not a club. We all laugh and decide to attack the kitchen together...]

This is the story of four friends who are no different from you and me… Yes, they have just started-up. Yes, they are imperfect. Yes, they often stumble. But yet they are in wild pursuit of their dreams!! Ain’t it time that you dusted off your old guitar too??

Contact MARS: Reach out to Sandeep at 09677194404 for bookings/info.

Photo Courtesy: The stills were done by Jithesh Kumar. Contact him at 09894277650 for photography. Check out for more.

Other Interviews: Robin & Sandra | Akram Feroze | Bipin |


Gopa Kumar M.G. said...

Yet another nice interview, Amith:)!! All the best to team MARS!!

Amith P K said...

Thanks much da Gopaa. So elated to see your comment...

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Midhun said...

Good luck, guys!

പ്രശാന്തന്‍ നായര്‍ said...

nice right up..
keepup the goodwork my friends - MARS, JK and of course the writer...