After listening to ‘Raat Adhoori’ several times on repeat, my very first thought about it still lingers – it is nostalgia for someone who feels like home. In this soulful new track dedicated to her mother, New Delhi – based artist, Tanmaya Bhatnagar, blends dreamy vocals with layers of ukulele and guitar. What drew me most to Tanmaya’s music – and made me replay ‘Raat Adhoori’ over and over again – was the vulnerability in her voice. It holds the raw innocence of a child’s admiration, a sense of wonder about the world and a curiosity to dive headfirst into it. It is a feeling that very few artists with her maturity of vocals can achieve, and she does it expertly even on ‘Kya Tum Naraaz Ho?’ and ‘I Can’t Go Back To Sleep’.
‘Adhoori’ – ‘incomplete’ – is a concept that musicians often play around with. Tanmaya’s take on it is equal parts melancholic and comforting. There is a sense of contentment, even hope, in an incompleteness like that, and Tanmaya’s lyrics convey it with ease.
Visually, ‘Raat Adhoori’ takes you on a journey of unfolding memories. It is the simplicity of the tender moments and gestures that makes you instantly believe in the strength of the love it depicts. There is a lot that can be unpacked among the interesting visual metaphors of typewriters, crumpled papers, and serene lakes. Perhaps trying to decode it might result in multiple interpretations, but ‘Raat Adhoori’ is best enjoyed as a collective sensory experience, one that enthralls, captivates, and leaves you soothed.
Our conversation with Bhatnagar dives into ‘Raat Adhoori’ and her musical journey so far.
Q. What was the creative process behind ‘Raat Adhoori’?
TB: Oh wow, where do I begin? I would say a lot has gone into the creative process behind the song. From the audio to the visuals, everything was thought about. Most of it was done in collaboration with creatives that I was working with online. It is such a special song to me. I mean, everything I do comes from a very personal place, but this song had me in tears so many times during the process. It tells you a story about my relationship with my mother whose loss I feel everyday because she suffers from a mental illness. This song is an ode to her and how I perceive our relationship to be. All the water in the music video signifies uncertainty and turbulence, but we also are able to swim through it – together. So I guess it is also a little about acceptance and hope, you know?
Q. You have been featured on a number of Indie Spotify playlists alongside some fantastic artists. What are your thoughts on the evolving indie music scene in India?
Yes. Thank you. That is really encouraging for me. I am grateful to have my management who helped me figure these things out – I wouldn’t know it as a beginner. It gets overwhelming at times. I really do believe that the Indie music scene is currently thriving – I think we are getting there, I am learning the works every day! Although I really hope that we see a bit more transparency in the industry, where people are more helpful and guide you along the way, including artists. We should also try to be advocates against the whole ‘numbers define me’ system. They don’t. At the end of the day – it’s the music that brings people together, not your social media presence. I mean, that is also important nowadays, but I hope we don’t forget ourselves along the way!
Q. Your English lyrics are just as beautiful as your Hindi ones – what role does language play in songwriting for you?
Thank you. That’s really kind of you. I think I am comfortable expressing myself in both languages, but of course, I do believe that Hindi is a beautiful language and it has a completely different feeling. Since I have started writing in Hindi more, I have found a more expressive side within myself.
Q. ‘Raat Adhoori’ has some mesmerizing visuals. How did you go about conceptualizing the video?
For the music video, I worked with my beautiful friend, Ramuna Pun, who I met through the internet. We exchanged ideas, thoughts, and memories before coming up with the final script. The two characters in the music video depict my mother and me. A lot of it is metaphorical – the water, the reason you see me sitting by myself in certain frames, the birds, the birthday, the poem – a lot of it, at the same time, is very real. Every frame means something. I would like to keep some of the details of the visuals open-ended because I also want the viewer / listener to bring out their own meaning.
Q. How did your Bollywood singing debut change things for you and your music? Is it something you’d want to keep doing?
It was really exciting to be able to write and compose a song for a Bollywood movie at such an early stage in my career. I think it didn’t quite change anything for my music, but it has really opened me up to the idea of playback and songwriting for films in general.
Q. How have your skills as a graphic designer helped your music, or vice versa?
Haha, I am actually very, very happy about being my own creative head. It helps a lot because I know exactly what I want aesthetically and I can do it myself. It is 100% a great skill set to have as a musician, because you can create your artwork and content on your own.