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Indian Ocean (band)

Indian Ocean
File:Indian Ocean at the Indo German Urban Mela.jpg
Indian Ocean at the Indo German Urban Mela
Background information
Origin Delhi, India
Genres Fusion, Indian, Rock, Folk
Years active 1990–present
Labels Indian Ocean, left to right: Tuheen Chakravarty, Himanshu Joshi, Sushmit Sen, Rahul Ram, Amit Kilam
Members Nikhil Rao
Amit Kilam
Rahul Ram
Himanshu Joshi
Tuheen Chakraborty
Past members Susmit Sen
Asheem Chakravarty
Indrajit Dutta
Shaleen Sharma
Anirban Roy
R C Joshi
Sawan Dutta

Indian Ocean are an Indian rock band formed in New Delhi in 1990, who are considered to be the pioneers of the fusion rock genre in India. Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarty, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam were band members till Chakravarty's death on 25 December 2009, after which Tuheen Chakravorty and Himanshu Joshi were officially inducted into the band as replacements. After the departure of Susmit Sen in 2013, Rahul Ram is the only remaining member who appeared on the band's debut album Indian Ocean.

The musical style of the band can be at best classified as fusion music. Some music critics describe the band's music as "Indo-rock fusion with jazz-spiced rhythms that integrates shlokas, sufism, environmentalism, mythology and revolution".

Since 2010, the band has moved against the lines of record labels. They released their latest album 16/330 Khajoor Road online for free. The main reason for this move was the frustration over negotiating contracts with record companies and fighting over copyright issues.[1] They have turned to concerts and sponsorships for generating revenue rather than playing in the hands of record labels. For a brief amount of time they had the sponsorship of Johnnie Walker. They are also a part of the world's first Music Personalisation Initiative named DRP as one of the five Featured Artists. In its 2014 listing of "25 Greatest Indian Rock Songs of the last 25 Years", "Rolling Stone India" featured two songs, Ma Rewa and Kandisa from the album, Kandisa (2000).[2]


Early years


In the early 1980s Asheem Chakravarty was playing tabla for a Bengali band Niharika. In 1984, Susmit Sen, who was a fan of Niharika, met him during a concert. They hit it off right away. Chakravarty was taken up by Sen's guitar-playing and his vision to evolve a new sound. Sen, in turn, learnt the nuances of rhythm from Chakravarty.

For the next 3 years, they kept on experimenting with their music with Sen on guitar and Chakravarty on tabla and drums. Yet so far they did not write any lyrics at all. Apart from a concert at Roorkee University, there were not many notable performances by them.

Demo tape

In 1990, they were struggling hard to come up with a demo recording of their band. Sen sold his electric guitar to raise money for the purpose. They chose to call themselves Indian Ocean which came as a suggestion from Sen's father. They had also drafted Shaleen Sharma as the drummer, and Indrajit Dutta and Anirban Roy as bassists.

They recorded the demo, taping an incredible 45 minutes consisting of 7 songs in just one day. Despite the rushed recording, the quality of the demo tape impressed HMV enough to offer them an album deal.

Asheem Chakravarty era

Rahul Ram and first album

In 1991, Rahul Ram who was Sen's schoolmate at St. Xaviers, Delhi, joined the band replacing Anirban Roy on bass. They started work on their first album. To their frustration, the album took about a year to get finished. But when their eponymous debut album came out in 1993, it sold over 40,000 copies within a year of its release. It became the highest selling record by any Indian band at that time.

Amit Kilam

In 1994, drummer Shaleen Sharma left the band. He was replaced by Amit Kilam who was much younger than the other band members. Barely out of his teens, he was still taking his college exams. This line-up with Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarty, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam became the most recognisable and the most successful in the band's timeline so far. Since then they rolled out a live album recorded and mixed on two tracks by Vikram Mishra Desert Rain and two studio albums Kandisa and Jhini. They also composed the soundtrack of Black Friday and contributed a couple of tracks to the soundtrack of Peepli Live.

Death of Asheem Chakravarty

In December 2009 the band lost Asheem Chakravarty. He was hospitalised in Doha in October, after suffering a heart attack. He was comatose for a brief period and recovered well.[3] On 25 December 2009 he died in New Delhi due to a cardiac arrest.[4]

Post-Asheem era

16/330 Khajoor Road

File:Indian Ocean by Rangilo Gujarati.jpg
Indian Ocean performing in Pune.

Indian Ocean has so far not announced any permanent replacement for Chakravarty. However, they have brought Himanshu Joshi to fill in for Chakravarty's vocals and Tuheen Chakravarty for tabla and other percussion which Asheem Chakravarty used to play.

The band announced release of their first studio album after the death of Asheem Chakravarty, 16/330 Khajoor Road. The band made the whole album available for download from their site by adding one new song each month.

The album 16/330 Khajoor Road was released in a two-CD pack. The album was recorded at Kshitij Studios, New Delhi and mixed by Aakash Gupta and Amit Kilam.

Band members

Asheem Chakravarty (tabla, percussions and vocals)

Asheem (1957–2009) showed his rhythmic ability at an early age, surprising musicians who learned that he never had any formal training. He quit a career in advertising, along with Susmit Sen to form Indian Ocean, where he played the tabla, tarang and other percussion instruments while also being band's vocalist. Indian Ocean fans call him "the man with the golden voice". He sang and played the tabla simultaneously, a difficult feat rare by Indian percussionists. His rhythm structures were unique and contributed a large part to Indian Ocean's signature sound. He improvised vocal lines while on stage and was innovative with traditional Indian percussion instruments. He was brought up in an atmosphere of Indian classical, folk and other Indian forms of music.

Chakravarty was hospitalised in Doha after suffering a heart attack in October and was in a state of coma for a brief period, but was recovering well.[3] He died after suffering a cardiac arrest in New Delhi in the afternoon on 25 December 2009. He is survived by wife Sunita Chakravarty and son, Ekansh Chakravarty.[4][5]

Amit Kilam (drums, percussions and vocals)

File:Amit io.jpg
Amit Kilam

Amit's drumming is a balance between the conventional and non-conventional. Largely self-taught, he believes in layering rhythm rather than a heavy drum layer, since he believes in simplicity, not technical wizardry, thus becoming the backbone of the solid sound that the band has. He incorporates Indian rhythms into his drumming in a unique fashion, moving in cycles of 8, 10, 12 14, 16, rather than simple 4/4 or ¾ styles. Not a "psychotic drummer", he goes easy on the skins, yet his playing is very dynamic. He was introduced to music at the age of 4 by his parents, learning the guitar (Hawaiian – Indian classical). He plays several instruments and sings also. He loves listening to various kinds of music – Hindi filmi, rock, pop – his favourites are A. R. Rahman, Trilok Gurtu and Deep Purple.

Rahul Ram (bass guitar and vocals)

Ram's bass playing moves smoothly – from melodic enmeshing with vocal and guitar lines to the more standard laying of foundations over which the band soars. His stage presence is an essential part of Indian Ocean's live concerts. His vocals have a power and edge that emphasises the folk roots of the band. Rahul also does most of the talking at live shows. His experiences as an activist/supporter with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (1990–1995) and during his four years studying in the US have exposed him to a variety of musical styles from all over India and the world, and have strongly influenced his musical expression. Rahul got an M.Sc. in Chemistry from IIT Kanpur and has PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University in New York (1986–90).

Ram and Chakravarty have also sung "Yaara Maula" in Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal, a Hindi movie based on politics.

Nikhil Rao

Nikhil Rao replaced Susmit Sen as lead guitarist in 2013.[6]

Former members

Susmit Sen (guitar)

Susmit who co-founded the group, virtually invented a new style of playing the guitar, an uncannily Indian sound where purity of scale reigns, strong melodic lines woven around the drone of open strings. His guitar style forms the basis of Indian Ocean's sound. Susmit’s personal vision is towards finding a new vocabulary for his music. His virtuoso talent never overshadows the big picture, but serves the song immaculately, strengthening it, embellishing it, giving it a distinct character. Susmit Sen released his solo debut album Depths of the Ocean in 2011 – an album which had been in the making for the last ten years.[7] Sen left the band in 2013 and was replaced by Nikhil Rao.[6]

Studio albums

File:Indian Ocean in Yekaterinburg 2009.jpg
Indian Ocean during their visit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in the summer of 2009. Photographed by the statue of the city founders, Tatischev and de Gennin.



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