'Every South Asian should be able to relate to my roots'

Tamil-American singer Sandhya Chari has released her debut single My Roots recently. In a chat with DT Next, she talks about the song, the filming process of My Roots, and her plans.
'Every South Asian should be able to relate to my roots'
Still from My Roots; (inset) Sandhya Chari

Chennai

Quiz her on how did the concept happen, she says, “The spark just happened so spontaneously. The director for this music video, Swathi, and I just came up with this concept while we were grabbing lunch together one day. We wanted to collaborate and create something authentic and spoke to us creatively. What started as a photoshoot concept evolved into a regal music video idea centered around South Asian culture, women empowerment, and breaking barriers. There is such a divisive presence in the media with the whole north and south division, and we just wanted to present something wholesome that every South Asian can relate to. The work for My Roots began around June 2021, and it’s been 6 months of pure hard work behind the scenes. I had a foot in so many different workstreams and had to manage production, music, sponsorships, designing outfits/jewelry, and art direction. Definitely would not have been able to delegate all of this without the help of an awesome team. Before we knew it, we had a team of 30 people on the production side and around 20 people representing the core cast.”
Being raised in a cross-cultural society, the singer agrees that she has gone through an identity crisis. “But I always tried my best to stay connected to my roots. I grew up learning Carnatic music, listening to Bollywood and Tamil songs, and speaking in Tamil to my family members. I would travel to India
every year for music and would spend time with family and connect with lots of professionals in the industry. I had to mingle with all kinds of people and that pushed me to speak my mother tongue more fluently. I think in the initial growing-up phase I was a little shyer to show off my culture, but as the years passed by I’ve learned to own it with pride,” shares the singer.
Sandhya is happy with the way the song turned out. She tells DT Next, “I am amazed at how we were able to deliver something how we wanted it to be. Everything that my team and I hoped for is delivered in this music video. The lyrics have a very strong meaning to them, and every 20 seconds is a surprise element for the listeners and viewers. I wanted this song to stray away from the common fusion songs that we have these days. My Roots is a trilingual song in English, Hindi, and Tamil It has elements of Western pop beats, South Indian folk, Carnatic music, and Bollywood vibes. The South Asian representation is so diverse and is beautifully depicted in every scene.”
The team shot the music video around mid-September. It was around 1.5 months of planning and brainstorming that went into every shot in the music video, she smiles. “Our core team consisted of Raghav Ravi (cinematographer), Swathi Reddy (director), and me sitting on multiple zoom calls every day planning each shot line by line. The entire music video was filmed within two days. We had a detailed shoot schedule that was time managed for every 10 minutes, to make sure we don’t shoot any particular scene for too long. All the scenes were shot in California, USA and most of the crew and cast were based out of the Bay Area. The day before the actual shoot, we had rehearsals to quickly run through everything and this helped us have a smooth filming process.”
On a concluding note, Sandhya reveals that she is working on a few more singles that tap into the Western/desi pop genre. “This is just the start and I am looking forward to continuing to release consistent music. I always say, “Don’t put me in a box.” You can expect to see me hopefully dropping some bars in my next song, collaborating with other artists, singing in new languages, and blending modern-day beats with desi elements,” sums up the singer. 

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