Desifuturist art rocker Kapil Seshasayee’s new single, “Item Girl,” which released via Loner Noise Oct. 18, explores the cultural influence of Bollywood – both in India and the diaspora.
Building on the momentum of his acclaimed debut, “A Sacred Bore,” the Scottish polymath makes an eclectic shift from his experimental roots towards a psychedelic crossover of RnB and Avant Indian classical.
While the Indian-origin artist’s first LP put forth a scathing critique of the lingering manifestations of the caste system in Indian communities, this second installment expands on those issues with a focus on the Bollywood film industry:
“Every song from the album is going to tell a story about Bollywood,” said Seshasayee. “...what’s not immediately visible. I want those stories to illuminate things that people aren’t thinking about and empower those who live these stories.”
“The Item Girl,” stated a press release, centers on a dehumanizing trope of a very specific Bollywood typecast.
“If you watch many Bollywood movies, you’ll start to notice that every film features a lively song and dance number sung by a peripheral character typically known as an item girl – a very sexualized young woman in a non-speaking role, merely existing as a public spectacle whose sole purpose is arousal,” it said, adding that Seshasayee feels if a young man grows up with these depictions of women in movies in a diasporic brown household in the U.S. or in Europe, it influences the way he treats women and the way he thinks about them.
“The notion of a woman who is either independent and opinionated only being irrelevant to the plot of a film sends a powerful message,” he was quoted as saying.
“For a long time, I found the persistence of archaic sexism among other brown men in the diaspora really strange at a time where everything else is developing,” said the young musician. “But then you realize it’s embedded into the very pop culture they grew up with. A popular medium normalizing troubling behavior is nothing new, however – it takes little more than a tweet from someone powerful now to elicit a riot.”
For his new record, Seshasayee draws on a refreshing new palette of sounds – from the socially conscious RnB of D’Angelo to the Indian classical ornamentations of saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath.
“There’s nothing good about the caste system so deciding upon the themes of the first record was very simple but I’m going for a more nuanced approach for the follow up,” he said. “I don’t want to just be slating Bollywood for 10 songs. I want to illuminate what’s worthy of discussion about it, perhaps even what positivity can be gleaned from is influence. But this single, it’s an attack on a really negative trope with a lasting cultural influence.”
“Item Girl” is part of Seshasayee’s upcoming album.
Having performed at festivals like SXSW, Latitude Festival, Celtic Connections, Cardiff Psych Festival and SOLAS Festival, Seshasayee will be touring across the U.K. in support of “The Item Girl.”