Ever heard of someone saying they want to make feminism fun? Mumbai-based Ramya Pandyan and Ishmeet Nagpal aim to do just that through their cross-content band of two, SXonomics, which the two women created last year. “Most people don’t want to be lectured on inequality and equate feminism with anger,” says 27-year-old Pandyan, who aims to change the perception of people through her performances. Besides performing as a music band, they also do stand-up comedy and conduct workshops for awareness about discrimination, oppression, patriarchy, etc. A digital content publisher by profession, Pandyan, who is also a published author, first met 27-year-old Nagpal in November 2016 at a poetry open mic in Mumbai. The two bonded instantly over their mutual hatred of misogyny in the poetry circuit and elsewhere. Pandyan and Nagpal, the director of the NGO, Project Manasvi, decided to collaborate for a creative front. “We were both individually protesting against the same things… It felt like we could effectively battle misogyny by working as a team,” says Nagpal.
For the next four months, the two brainstormed over several formats for their band’s content before zeroing in on cross-genre, with comedy, satire and musical collaborations with other independent artistes. The two-member music band debuted in April 2017 at the South Asia Laadli Awards, organised by the NGO, Population First, in Mumbai. Other initial gigs included performances at the 2017 RISE Summit at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai, etc. “We want to make people comfortable with the concept of feminism without drowning them in jargon,” says Pandyan.
However, for artistes trying to touch upon topics of social relevance, it’s never an easy road. SXonomics, too, faces its set of challenges. As the duo reveal, while most audience members seem to react positively to their performances, they have also come across a certain section of the audience, which seems unable to handle the way these girls approach ‘taboo’ topics such as menstrual hygiene, consent, rape, etc, resulting in verbal attacks, hostility and indifference. Yet they labour on, believing an honest dialogue can change everything.
To reach a wider audience base, they are also open to the idea of performing in tier II cities and even rural areas. They also try to reach out to audiences through streaming sites and social media. “We want to go into people’s living rooms to bring the conversation on gender issues right to their dinner table,” says Pandyan.
By: Ananaya Banerjee