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english, august – inner world

The Definitive Playlist by Dev Benegal

The Playlist

The Story

Meet August. He’s training to become a civil servant – an Administrative Service Officer, a member of the most influential and powerful cadre of civil servants in the country. But he prefers reading Marcus Aurelius for pleasure and listening to Bob Dylan and Miles Davis while occasionally smoking pot and wanking off.

August negotiates this provincial creek with the only paddle he can find; fantasy, daydreams and “self-abuse” become his means of revolt as he escapes from the heat into the mystery and quiet of his secret world of erotic fantasy and contemplation.

Living in a room with blue walls the only friend he makes that year is a frog who invades his bathroom.

The Three Worlds of Agastya Sen

Agastya lived three lives – the official life at work, the unofficial, drinking with people he met and his secret life “in the universe of his room” soaked with marijuana and music.

The soundtrack drew its inspiration from those lives.

english, august – inner world
english, august – inner world
The Music

The psychedelic music scene in Britain from the 60’s and 70’s and their experiments in sounds, electronics, mixing poetry with whimsy was what I grew up on. I loved the inner worlds the VCS-3 — an electronic tone generator — created. It was popular with bands like The Who, King Crimson, Led Zep, Syd Barret and Pink Floyd. This became a part of Agastya’s hallucinogenic world.

The music from Agastya’s secret life were Grace Slick’s White Rabbit. That was on a short list for one of the early scenes in Agastya’s room. Miles Davis’ ‘Round Midnight, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side rounded it off. Sounds from the world outside invaded his life — so perfectly captured in the work of All India Radio which I discovered years later.

For Agastya’s official world or public life, D. Wood and Vikram Joglekar composed an original score with an ensemble of fretless bass, bansuri (Indian flute), Indian percussions, electric guitars and Digiredoo. Their music — with sounds from different cultures — formed the complex fabric of Agastya’s memories.

I heard the story of a trainee who took two cassettes for his year away from home. The tapes were his only companions — a lifeline to the world he had left behind — which he played over and over again till the magnetic layer on them disappeared. That’s how extreme life in the district was.

Listen on and take a trip into Agastya’s inner world.