Published: 02nd October 2019
Meet the @Unkoolie who's getting Kerala used to Busking in the sun
KV Sreeram speaks about bringing the art of busking to Kochi and how it challenges artists in the best of ways
I had never heard of busking before speaking with KV Sreeram or @Unkoolie as Instagrammers call him. According to him, most people in Kerala don't. Most dictionaries define it as the act of playing music or singing in a public place so that the people will give you money. Sreeram simplifies it, "Basically, we perform for the public. The idea is to take your art wherever you go and perform it there."
Sreeram himself learnt about the art form when he attended the Jaipur Literature Festival. "There, I met a girl called Richa from Bangalore had carried her typewriter all the way to Jaipur, and mind you, it was heavy," he stresses for emphasis. Sreeram watched her busk at cafes on the way and hand out poems for people. In a split second, he knew that he wanted to bring the same thing back home. And true to his word, he got his own typewriter and got started at the Calicut Flea Market with Ashwin, a friend of his who played the guitar.
OUT RIGHT: On October 2, Busking Kochi organised their next major busking event at Subhash Park
He remembers that first experience as truly eye-opening. People would stare at them with their instruments as they passed by but many of them would stop and listen, collect a poem or even pay them for it. The idea of free poems and conversations caught on, in Sreeram's mind and in some parts of the city. He was on the lookout for more people who wanted to busk. In the process, he met a lot of people like him, Priya Varughese or Lady Lazarus being chief among them. He began working with the poet on several occasions and they performed at the Kottayam Flea Market for a much bigger crowd before going on to pursue it separately. Sreeram and the group of artists called themselves Busking Kochi.
"One thing I'm adamant about is that we cannot limit the idea of art to just literature. Art is almost anything that gives you pleasure. In fact one of the most recent artists I performed with was a freestyle footballer named Hardy! Busking is an open scenario, it is about going out into the street and doing what makes you happy," he explains. Busking Kochi's biggest event to date was during the Kerala floods. A bunch of artists managed to come together at the East Indian Cafe in Kochi and raise a small amount of money to help victims of the disaster.
On October 2, Busking Kochi organised their next major busking event at Subhash Park. And a lot more people were involved this time around. Sreeram says, "Busking helps people improve their art. People don't see how good they are unless they are put in a situation where they have no choice but to put their best foot forward. It's truly a creative exercise. When you're talking to a person and typing something on a typewriter, you cannot delete it. A painter would need to finish their masterpieces in a matter of minutes. Basically, we are putting constraints on ourselves so we can push ourselves even further. For the artist it takes everything away but the art itself."