Anyone who has lived in Hyderabad for a couple of years is likely to have come across Pranati Khanna. She is both musician and artist and the two feed off one another. From performing solo as well as with her band, The Ragamuffins, creating posters for local gigs and exhibiting her artwork around town, this artist-musician’s creativity is on display everywhere.
In this candid conversation, Pranati talks to us about creative expression through art, lyrics and melody.
1) How did you discover your love for music?
My parents would eat, sleep and breathe music, so to speak, and I suppose it’s because of the range of genres my sister, Anjali, and I were exposed to that I eventually discovered my love for all genres of rock and the blues.
2) Tell us a little about The Ragamuffins, your sound and the stories in your songs.
I wanted to start The Ragamuffins years ago, but only got around to forming the band in 2015. The line-up and sound have changed quite a lot since we began, and it’s been great watching it evolve from a cute, indie-pop, semi-acoustic sound to a full-blown, loud and proud rock band. The current line-up: Alex, Ricky, Eddy and Sanju are like an extension of my family.
The stories of our songs are little vignettes from my life, but I’ve written them in such a way that they could mean something personal and different to everyone who listens to the words. For instance, ‘Tell Me’ is about “those” mistakes that we all make. I wrote it from a teenager’s perspective but let’s face it, we’re all teenagers, we never grow up! ‘Judas’ is a song about betrayal. I’ve been let down a lot. We all have. And ‘The Gorkha’ is a story based on my grandpa who fought in the Gorkha Regiment, but it’s also dedicated to everyone fighting their own battles.
3) You are also an artist, can you tell us a little about your work?
Well, my grand-uncle is Krishen Khanna who is one of India’s very first progressive artists, and was part of the same group as M.F Hussain, Raza, Souza and the like. So I grew up hearing about and living around art, thanks to my grandparents and parents.
As a child, I just didn’t feel like words could do justice to what I was thinking, so I would draw about it instead. I then majored in art, took up animation and dabbled in digital art, and kept exhibiting my work since I turned 20. I am now a graphic designer by profession and started ‘Pranati Khanna Design.’
Throughout, art has served as an outlet for inner expression. My very first show ‘Metamorphorescence’ was about discovering and developing a level of maturity. All my shows stem from very personal problems but I try to make my art relatable to those who see my work.
4) Are there parallels in your art style and your singing/music?
Absolutely. Music fuels my art. Musicians inspire me. What I can’t talk about, I sing and draw/design about instead.
5) It was empowering that you chose to be so open about your battle with depression through your solo art show ‘Naked’. Why did you choose to do this?
I had to be open about it as I’ve seen too many people I love just bottling it up. No one talks about it. No one really addresses it.
So, I decided to get it off my chest and in the process, help others who were also going through what I was going through, and show them that they weren’t alone. I wanted people to come to my show, look at a canvas and think, “Shit, I have felt that exact feeling too.” It’s a great feeling when you know that you’re not the only one, that someone else gets it.
6) Which aspect of being an independent artist (for both your artwork and music) excites you most?
Being on stage in front of a pumped crowd or at a gallery filled with appreciative people is the most exciting and rewarding feeling I have ever felt because people are there for you with love.
7) Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future
The Ragamuffins album!! 2017 is finally our year. I’m dedicating all my love and energy to this album. We all are. We could use all the support we can get!
To listen to the Ragamuffins music and to check whether they’re playing in your city, follow them on Facebook! And to stay updated on Pranati’s artwork and exhibitions, follow her Facebook page too!
Interview by Pavi Sagar
Featured image source: The Deccan Chronicle