Being the country’s financial capital, Mumbai has always operated at a pace of its own and doesn’t seem to ever really slow down. With the booming roars of the stock markets during the day or the flamboyant cheers of the night being painted red, the urban hustle in this city is intense and sometimes gruelling. Having lived my entire life in this metropolis, I’ve realised that tuning out of the noise can be difficult, which is why we often head to the outskirts of town to find sanctuary. And recently, on the outskirts, we found a true pearl on the high beaches of Uttan, Mumbai. By Mikhail Gomes
We spent the last weekend of January at Bandcamp by the White Hippie Collar in Uttan, as they played host to an exclusive boutique festival called RagaMoon. An ultra-niche Indie and classical music festival that takes place just one night a year. But apart from the music, they keep up with a truer hipster spirit, Ragamoon is also a home for campers. Twenty-four hours of camping amidst trees, lazing on hammocks in the beach breeze, and good music to tie it all together, that’s Ragamoon for you. In their second edition, RagaMoon was held at a hilltop in Uttan amidst the woods and overlooking the gorgeous Arabian Sea.
As about 120 campers reached the camp site, the team equipped us with utility kits and a few goodies. Further to which we were guided to our tent. Being my first-time camping, I was sceptical about how comfortable and spacious the experience would be. To my surprise, the tent was large enough to fit two people and their suitcases. Considering the hectic urban hustle of Mumbai, there was a lag which gave us about an hour to sit under a nearby cabana and read a novel.
We then headed in for a light vegetarian lunch accompanied by a beer. All of this, while sitting in a puppy-friendly space, surrounded by trees and groovy Indie music. Things really kicked off by sunset hour though. At the Bandcamp’s sunset point, we were graced by poet and vocalist Harpreet Singh and Mehtab Ali Niazi, a prodigy sitarist. Facing the beautiful Arabian sea during sunset, Harpeet and Mehtab brought about a perfect guitar-sitar tranquil as we sipped on village styled masala tea.
We headed back to the main stage area only to be greeted by an extremely romantic setting of paper lanterns across the arena, candle lighted tables and an extremely bohemian experience overall. While things were getting in place for the big night, they opened the kebab and toasts stall for a pre-concert munch.
The night of music began with Vasu Dixit and just his guitar. While he started his set with a few slow songs written by him, it progressed into a sing-along and ended with everyone on their feet vibing out to some serious Indie jams. The energy was real, and ready for the finale with Prem Joshua and band.
Joshua and the clan have had a cult following for decades now. The art is based on fusion, not just of two elements, but more. Their spectrum of sound starts at classical music, to reggae and then high-paced Indie beats, all with the undertone of psychedelic tranquillity. It was evident why this band has such a strong and dedicated following, their offerings to music is simply unlike anything you’ve heard before and they fit perfectly into Ragamoon’s niche aesthetic.
We enjoyed this experience for about three hours, and two with Prem Joshua’s band. All while sipping on a few great drinks. After the two musical acts were over, the core RagaMoon team came together for a bonfire. Being a chilly winter night and warmed up by some scotch, the ambience at that moment was perfect and exactly what Ragamoon has at its heart. Singalongs with like-minded hipsters and campers is precisely what the festival aspires to bring together.
To my surprise, my tent was incredibly cozy for the night. Be sure to keep it unopened though to avoid insects getting in. After all, you’re in the woods. We ended the night with music and started our morning on the same high. The breakfast menu was all about South Indian dishes like Upma, Idli and Wada with all required accompaniments.
As Ragamoon’s final act came about, they introduced a tabla-beatboxer, named Ilyas Raphael Khan. You would be surprised by how many genres of music a tabla is capable of playing. Khan started off with classical tunes and gradually moved to commercial Hindi tracks like Udd Gaye by Ritviz. Right after this song, he switched up to dubstep and even mixed in some electronic numbers. To finish his set, Mehtab and Harpreet — who collaborated the previous evening — came together for a final jam to conclude the festival.
Ragamoon 2020 was all about bringing together a community who embrace Indie tunes and a bohemian life. Leaving their urban alter-egos at bay, they enter the Ragamoon arena to simply embrace their hipster and nature-loving self. In terms of hospitality and food, the team at Ragamoon maintain absolute A-grade hygiene, safety and take special care knowing you’ll be spending a night in a tent. This 1 pm to 1 pm experience is the perfect urban detox and a space to explore one’s creativity, tune out or simply enjoy a boutique camping experience.
We asked the Co-Founder of Ragamoon, Supreet Singh how things evolved between the first edition and the second, and what we could expect in 2021. Singh told us that Ragamoon will focus more on fusion and artists who take pride in that. “Take tabla boxing and Prem Joshua’s act for instance. They were both unique and attract people who have an acquired taste. We also added a multi artist jam with Ilyas Raphael Khan, Mehtab Ali and Harpreet Singh as a finale which was a mega hit. However, will remain a boutique festival with camping space of only 100 people. Going forward, we will experiment with more fusion across various genres.”