To love or not to love
Photograph by: Randy Tan

To love or not to love Hanita Bhambri

‘’We’ve made a mess / We took our light and turned it into blindness / We jumped into this well /  Drowning each other when we both can swim.’’
Nothing For Our Own, directed by Aditya Varma of Jugaad Motion Pictures, raises important questions of "coming home". The video, starring Aisha Ahmed and Paniza Rehnama, proposes to ask why we always come back home, whether we come back to the same place we left behind. And why it is important to escape home in the first place.
The song denotes the end of a romance; it’s about what you give to it and what is left of you by the end of it. It takes us through the journey of a lesbian woman who leaves behind her lover, only to find that there is no love left when she finally returns.
The film uses an interesting scheme of both bright and pastel colours and strong imagery which denotes recurring themes of escape, pain and confusion in love.
We got in touch with Hanita Bhambri, the voice of the song, to tell us all about about her relationship with music and with love. 

In some ways, I feel we're spending our lives making sense of the world around us, making sense of our inner world too. Music has helped me put things together and understand the bizarreness of life and my emotions.

A large part of the little clarity I have is because of Damien's music. When I discovered him for the first time, it was almost like he spoke directly to me and my being. That night I camped under my blanket with an iPod, looking at his name flash across the screen and patiently playing every song till the battery ran out. His music has built me up and broken me down, both at the same time, and through it all it has healed me. All my life I've just wanted to meet him and thank him for saving me and inspiring me. 

To love or not to love

And then. He came to perform at Delhi. Out of nowhere. And I met him. And not just that, by some stroke of - I don't know - what can only be called a miracle, he asked me to sing with him on the stage. I still have a hard time believing that it actually happened. But I have an audio recording which I keep listening to every time it feels like a dream. 

Ben Howard is one the most prolific songwriters of our times. And yet, very few people know about him. When you listen to his music it feels like peeping into a kaleidoscopic glass jar. It's confusing but so beautiful that you forget your confusion and just enjoy the brilliance you're experiencing. Songs like Black Flies, I forget where we were, Depth over distance, Old pine - they just breathe life into you despite the inherent sadness. 

I don't know how I can sonically carry their influence in my music and work, but they've shaped my thoughts and dreams. And while I'm still finding my feet in expressing myself through songwriting, I feel that intentions matter and I want to be that musician in someone else's life, the way these two are in mine. 

“Exposing yourself to shit in life, being open to new things is what will help you grow your art. I don't want to lock myself in a room and write songs and practice my scales. I want to be out there experiencing millions of new personalities and ways of thinking.”

Nothing For Our Own  
When I think of Nothing For Our Own, I see a worn out water pipe that's leaking from everywhere. It starts with one crack and you bandage it and then a new one crops up and then another. Till the metaphorical angst and pain is sprouting from all directions and you can't fix the vessel holding it in anymore. 

When I wrote this song, I wasn't in pain as much as I felt helpless because I knew that the situation I was in, was toxic, and there was no amount of fixing that could ever fix it. I may not still understand what love is, and I definitely didn't know it back then. In this song, I see two people who are creating monsters out of each other - forcing each other to behave in ways that's suffocating both of them. This entire thing has become so poisonous like a gangrene that's eaten away the best parts of you. When loving another person becomes detrimental to your well being, it's best to exit the situation and not look back.

What I love about this video is that it's not talking any of this at all, but the aftermath of it. The song gives us a background and foreshadows the ending at the same time. When people divorce, we look at them as "failed" marriages. And very strongly hold to the "failure" of it - all this while looking at all the beautiful, happy people so much in love believing that it worked because they didn't give up. In this complex time of extremities of commitment-phobia and staying in toxic relationships, it's difficult to make sense of what is what. And not giving up doesn't fix that worn out pipe, it doesn't fix the gaping cracks of the relationship!

To love or not to love

One of my favourite movies of all time is 500 Days of Summer. In the movie they're watching the movie The Graduate, in which the two characters have run away, one from her aisle on her wedding and other who has helped her elope and said goodbye to his inheritance. They're exhilarated at finally being together and soon turn morose because what does this mean for them?

The reason doesn't have to be incompatibility for reality to hit you, it can be anything. And seemingly perfect romances can be filled with drawers of betrayal and heartache hidden from all Instagram filters. 

We showed a non-cis perspective, because love is love, not just in its beauty and intensity but also in its struggles and heartbreak.

I've realised life has a tendency to surprise me, so I don't know what's next. But for now I'm planning a tour in July and some collaborations are in the pipeline. I also hope for a lot of new releases before the end of the year!

Text Priyanshi Jain