Viva, The Band Of Our Childhood, Reunited After 18 Years For A Lockdown Rendition Of Their Song Jaago Zara. It Served Up So Much Nostalgia
Nostalgia is a strange thing; it just fills you with the sweet taste of familiarity. Your heart gets perforated with moments devoid of uncertainties because we’ve lived them before. That’s what memories are, right? That’s probably why we get so sentimental about all things that were part of our childhood. Be it the Disney shows we binge-watched or renting out DVDs in a pre-Netflix era, we just get so nostalgic about it. All of us have fond memories of collecting stationery, trading Pokémon cards, fighting for our fav colour of gems and having Peppy for lunch. We may have come a long way since but these things are associated with the days of our life when we didn’t worry about heartbreak, bank balance and a few extra inches around our waist.
So when someone talks about Viva – India’s first all-women pop band – my heart just melts like cheddar. For the uninitiated (and I hope there aren’t many) Viva was a band of five girls Seema Ramchandani, Pratichee Mohapatra, Neha Bhasin, Mahua Kamat, and Anushka Manchanda formed in 2002, after they won Coke V Popstars. Yup before there was Indian Idol, there was this fun reality show that transformed these five really talented singers but regular girls into overnight popstars. We watched their entire journey and through it all really got connected to these women with feminism in their pockets and rebellion in their steps.
From 2002 to 2020, it’s not just the positioning of the digits that changed. It’s been 18 years since their first album launched and even though they split right after the second one, I can’t help but once in a while Google what they’ve been upto. But it’s the reunion video that they dropped on social media and along with that our jaws dropped too, right on the floor!
They recreated their iconic song Jaago Zara from their first album albeit from their individual homes and with a missing Seema Ramchandani. She had left the band in the same year to pursue the path of spirituality. But the rest of them re-recorded the vocals and did an incredible job making the video. It was similar to the OG one but with the women seeming to have metamorphosed from raw to more discerning and strong. Like in the OG video, all of them stuck to white and sang to the camera and exhibited remarkable poise.
All four of them shared the video on their Instagram. Neha Bhasin, who is now a renowned playback singer wrote: “We wanted to bring a little smile to everyone, a little ray of hope from our homes to yours. I started my journey with these beautiful girls. We have stories, history, great music, some baggage that we share together. We know each other’s habits, yet we have have been apart for years. Hell we didn’t talk for 10 years. This quarantine has brought us together one more time and i am grateful for it. l Love you Anushka, Mahua and Pratichee, you will always be etched in my heart..(sic)”
She further wrote, “Thank you to all the young boys and girls who grew up with VIVA, cried with us, were heartbroken when we split up. This one is for you all and everyone in this world right now who needs love n light. PS: We did dub our vocals again from home (sic)” Yup, when the split happened most of us were left heartbroken and I believe they should make another song!
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Expressing her gratitude to the likes of us who still fondly remember Viva, Anushka Manchanda wrote: “Its been so many years and so much has happened, and still today, people come up to me, to us all, to tell us what Viva meant to them. This video is for you, for every time you have thought of us, sent us messages, sung our songs and reached out to us to tell us how you feel. Thank you for this everlasting love, this crazy bond you have built with us that has lasted so many years. We feel you, we give you love right back.” Also, unlike the re-dos that have been made these days, this one is just perfect. I guess the OG singers can do it better after all!
They were the first band to have sold out 50,000 tickets for their first concert and made a Limca record because of that. During times, when beauty and gender stereotypes were so stubborn, these women shattered it all. From being criticised to be overweight to being called too skinny, they didn’t allow the body-shamers to get to them. They didn’t care about the stupid notions of femininity and gender roles our society assigns. Their songs had a passion and rebellion in them. This is why, for many young girls, they served as an inspiration to be what they want to be. I love what this quarantine has done! I am gonna go and stalk them some more.