“Actions mean more than words, so bring me flowers even if it hurts inside,” croons an 18-year-old Anika Bharwani. The first verse of her latest release, ‘Bring Me Flowers’, sets the stage for a love song; one filled with happy moments, yearning, and heartbreak. The melody, sung against the gentle strumming of a guitar, is one that could soothe you, just as easily as it can make you feel lovesick.
Born and brought up in Bombay, Anika was bitten by the music bug much later in life. “I come from a family of non-singers. Once, an aunt asked me to sing and I loved it so much, and that’s how it began,” she shares. Over the course of the pandemic, Anika wrote a whole album. “As part of homework for my singing class, we were asked to write about a lie. So, I wrote about the lies you tell yourself when you are finding it difficult to let go. That’s how ‘Bring Me Flowers’ was born”, she says.
Javed Akhtar, she says, is her inspiration. “I know I write in English and he writes in Urdu, but I love the simplicity and relatability of his songs. Even this song can be anyone’s song,” she explains.
The music video, which features Anika herself and Sugandh Dhindaw, is an attempt by Anika to showcase a romantic relationship between two girls. For Anika, however, the song is telling a more personal story. For her, the video is her moment of coming out. “I didn’t think about it in terms of a queer song. The song came to me while I was in the shower and when I imagined it, I envisioned a girl,” she says. Anika doesn’t deny that the experience was wrought with trepidation. “I had never given anyone in my life any hint that I was queer. So, I had to come out to my family and friends before I put out the video,” she says.
While it was a nerve-wracking experience, she is glad about it. “I didn’t sleep for days. But, now, they all support me. The video, to be honest, felt like my duty to the community. I would be glad even if one grandparent accepts their queer grandchild because of it,” she says.
Just as much as it was about creating a dialogue for acceptance, it was also about representation. “When I see Indian shows, I don’t see myself. It’s rare. Even when I see queer stories, they feature older people. I just wanted to show a normal love story. It is natural and pure,” she explains.
The struggle for Anika didn’t end with finding her family’s acceptance. “It took me almost two weeks to find the crew. Because the video featured same-sex love, it was difficult to get an actor. We found Sugandh a day before we were supposed to shoot,” shares Anika.
Now that the song is out, Anika is basking in the love and appreciation she has been receiving from the community. She is also working on 3 songs, of which she hopes to release 2 by the end of the year. Anika, who has deep-dived into the world of music, is now taking a gap year and focusing on learning about music.