The Ladakh Project is proof that money can't stand in the way of passion and drive.
If you do the math, even a oneminute video shot professionally in a location like Ladakh can leave the pockets lighter by at least a crore of rupees. Mumbai-based music producer Sarvesh Shrivastava and The Outbox Project (a collective of photographers, cinematographers and visual artists) managed to shoot a stunning 45-minute audio-visual showcase using limited resources and a fraction of that figure earlier this year.
The audio-visual show, a montage of panoramic shots of the gorgeous Pangong Lake, white sand deserts and various places of worship, is part of Sarvesh's five-track EP titled The Ladakh Project, which will be showcased in Pune next month.
Sarvesh, along with project director Aneesh Prasad and cinematographer Sabit Tisekar, headed to Ladakh's barren landscape for the second time after an initial trip last year to the mountainous region left an indelible impression on them. With a limited budget, the venture was fraught with challenges from day one. "I realised it was going to be a complex endeavour with no simple solutions. We had to carry portable gear as travelling with heavy equipment in the wilderness was out of the question," mentions 23-year-old Aneesh. So they left for Ladakh carrying DSLRs like the Canon 5 D Mark III.
"After my trip to Ladakh in 2013 with friends, I felt the need to return with my gear so I could transfigure my interpretation of this experience into music. I got The Outbox Project on board to capture the essence of the journey through time-lapse videos and still photography," says Sarvesh, who spent around two weeks in Ladakh with his crew to complete the project. "The purpose of this trip was to share my experience with audiences through the audio-visual. From writing original audio content in Ladakh along with capturing contrasting sounds of the land like Buddhist chants at various monasteries to rivers flowing, this project was deeply inspiring and explorative for me. The audio-visual is accompanied by a vast eclectic mix of visuals documented by The Outbox Project," he informs.
Being abreast with technology helped the trio complete and execute The Ladakh Project. "We were quite resourceful towards creatively thinking how a situation could be optimised with the resources at hand. I am not saying we were in abundance of resources, but there weren't really any limitations either," he says. To put it in perspective, Aneesh adds, "We were shooting in freezing temperatures and we had to build our own rig. That apart, it was a challenge to recreate the entire experience on the editing table in Mumbai." The video editing was done by Reeve Shroff, who's also a part of The Outbox Project.
The adventurous audio-visual trip came with its fair share of memorable experiences. Sarvesh recalls, in particular, meeting two Chinese women, who frequently visited the hot-water springs located in Nubra Valley to cure their digestive aliments. It was also a pleasure interacting with their driver Dorji, who worked as a porter once. The colourful character had, among his other 'achievements', transported supplies to an Indian Army battalion stationed at the Siachen Glacier under unimaginable weather conditions.
The music writing process carried out under harsh weather conditions during May was everything the young musician had dreamed of. Accompanied by his laptop, extra batteries, a portable keyboard controller and a decent pair of headphones, he would literally sit down anywhere and find inspiration throughout the journey to write music for hours together. Given the close proximity with Ladakh's environment and the almost instantaneous recreation of his experience, Sarvesh was able compose music that conveyed what he was experiencing.
"The inaugural showcase in Mumbai went well. For the first time in my musical career, I explored the possibilities of performing an audio-visual set," shares Sarvesh, who goes by the moniker SickFlip on stage.
After traversing Ladakh's hostile yet stunningly beautiful landscape, and wizened by the challenging musical journey, Sarvesh wraps up with a word of advice for fellow musicians: "Do something that excites you rather than trying to create something just to belong to a particular scene."
►► After my trip to Ladakh in 2013 with friends, I felt the need to return with my gear so I could transfigure my interpretation of this experience into music
- SARVESH SHRIVASTAVA