Nucleya's life and times are now the subject of a new documentary by Red Bull, Ride to the Roots
In Ride to the Roots, the cameras follow Udyan Sagar — better known as electronic music producer Nucleya — into his life, his past and his family
For one of India’s most popular electronic music producers Udyan Sagar — Nucleya — being followed around by a camera on stage is no biggie. After all, plenty of his international party-starter peers like Skrillex have an entire video crew documenting every gig. But for the Red Bull TV feature series Ride to the Roots, the cameras followed Udyan into his life, his past and his family — both within and outside the music world.
Presented as a documentary film on the life and times of Nucleya, shooting — helmed by indie regular filmmaker and music video director Misha Ghose for Red Bull — began in March this year, marked by a show in Ahmedabad, which was said to be attended by 10,000 fans. Udyan says, “I've kind of gotten used to the cameras at shows now, as we usually travel with our own photographer/videographer. But having Misha (Ghose), who also directed The Dewarists, there behind the camera was really reassuring as I'm comfortable opening up to her.”
It begins as a story of reconnecting with one’s roots in Ahmedabad — where Udyan meets his family and “rediscovers the city and my early years there as a musician.” He adds, “After the Ahmedabad show, the shooting continued for about a month across Goa and with the various contributors to the documentary.”
Like any good documentary and profile on an artist, Ride to the Roots is not just celebratory in its narrative. Udyan says it “tells the story of the struggle it has taken to get here along with all the low points along the way.” For someone who has ascended to the top of the Indian alternative circuit ever since he released his 2013 EP Koocha Monster, the Agra-born, Ahmedabad-raised producer worked more than 15 years with different musicians, including being a part of electronic-fusion act Bandish Projekt. He adds, “I think the high points are understood by everyone, so there is no need to make a film about those. It's the darker, more challenging moments that people have not seen and this film tells the story of that journey along (with) the low moments.”
Of course, one of the most recent high points that the documentary covers is his now-famous “#goals” moment of launching 2015’s Bass Rani with a show in the midst of Ganesh visarjan festivities in Mumbai. It’s been about two years since that gig, and Udyan recalls how it came about, “That idea emerged out of a discussion my manager, Tej Brar, and I had while we were in Reunion Island for a gig. We were at the hotel after the gig and just chatting about dreams we used to have when we were younger. I mentioned to him it was always a dream of mine to play at Ganpati (visarjan), because that is basically the biggest party on the streets in India.”
Where it started from, of course, was Udyan’s identity as a desi bass music producer — one who has actively distanced himself from being tagged as an EDM DJ/producer. He says, “I consider my music to be Indian street music, but just produced electronically and I think launching my first full album there [during visarjan] really represented it in the best possible light. Looking back, it's a little hard to believe that it actually happened and that it happened at the scale that it did. It was just a crazy idea we had and seeing it come to fruition and having the impact it did is very rewarding.”
Although very much an independent artist, Ride to the Roots also explores Udyan’s relationship with his team. He says, “Nucleya has always been a team effort and will continue to be so.”
Is he worried about how his story on Ride to the Roots will be depicted? Udyan says he didn’t want any creative control or an active hand in the narrative of the documentary. With the nationwide premieres just taking place earlier this week in theatres, Udyan adds, “I saw one cut when they were done with it and I still haven't seen the final cut. In fact, the premiere will be the first time I actually see the final cut of the whole documentary. I think it's important to not be too involved, especially when you are the subject of the piece. Once you have a director you can trust, let them do their job and tell the story.”
With the festival season coming around very soon, there’s much more than the documentary and shows lined up for Nucleya. He says, “We will have some singles coming out this year. Some will be collaborations and some just my own tracks. (Rapper) Divine and I have a song in Mukkebaaz, which is Anurag Kashyap’s new movie that I'm excited about.”
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