“Everybody tells stories about successful people and romanticises their struggling days,” says filmmaker Jaideep Varma in a voiceover at the beginning of the documentary Par Ek Din. “I thought we would tell the story about a band’s struggling days and romanticise their future.”
While most music documentaries celebrate successful bands at their peak or during the production of an album that is fraught with complications, Varma’s newest documentary Par Ek Din, released to coincide with World Music Day on June 21, goes in another direction: it profiles a band that few outside their circle of friends might have heard about.
Varma and Harshad Nalawade, who shot and co-edited the film, spent four days with City Haze to make the 89-minute documentary. Since Nalawade is friends with the band members, Varma and he also offer a commentary on the music and what the band has to say. Their duelling voiceovers and the access provided by Nalawade’s close friendship with the band occasionally turns the film into a reality television show.
At one point, during an interview with the lead singer and lyricist Samyak, Nalawade comments: “So Samyak is basically a recluse with no social life. So when he gets a chance to speak he doesn’t stop.”
City Haze’s members are emblematic of a certain group of Indian musicians: the kind who are millennial men (average age 25) and divided between Indian and Western influences. Their angst is minimal, apart from vague reminders by parents to get a “real job”, and their music is self-described “gloomy” guitar-based rock. The framing narrative for the documentary is a journey towards the band’s first live show, but the focus is not on whether or not they will be successful. By being sympathetic to their concerns and allowing them the opportunity to freely air their thoughts and feelings, Varma is able to uncover what drives a generation that few outsiders are able to understand.