The Truth about Sunburn aka Ghor Kalyug

Pop Culture

The Truth about Sunburn aka Ghor Kalyug

Illustration: Akshita Monga

Winter is coming! The fleece is out, wedding hashtags are in, and social media is in full music-festival mode as festival-goers post pictures of their latest outfits, and non-goers lament how their schedules don’t allow them to attend, but use the opportunity to post last year’s pictures anyway. Unless they’re going to Sunburn, in which case they’re wondering if there’s even going to be a festival to attend.

The excitement surrounding this year’s upcoming slew of festivals, which started with the Shillong leg of NH7 Weekender in October, will continue with Sunburn in December, and so on, until the summer heat makes outdoor drinking unbearable, is accompanied by the now-predictable swirling mass of anger and outrage that comes each festival season. For Indian politicians and other upholders of sanskar, festival time means Kalyug has arrived!

This year’s rumblings began back in October, when Sunburn found itself without a venue because of opposition from gram panchayats and local politicians in Pune. Once that storm passed and permissions and venues were finally allocated, the Congress woke up from its nap and questioned why the permissions were given in the first place when it is amply clear that the only reason people listen to music is to use drugs and alcohol? Clearly, without music festivals, drugs and alcohol problems would just disappear.

The conservative establishment views the congregation of music fans as terrorist sleeper cells, whose agents are tasked with destroying Indian culture step by step during their two-month-long window of opportunity, and Sunburn is their favourite football. Sunburn, to them, represents everything that is wrong with Indian culture. It is not cute and folksy, and doesn’t have Shankar Ehsaan Loy as the headline act, but instead features the music of “evil” foreigners and more drugs than a party hosted by Pablo Escobar.

And obviously where there are drugs, S-E-X (we don’t say it, we just spell it) must follow. The upholders of our sanskar think of Sunburn as an orgy organised by Caligula and hosted by Sunny Leone, and have derived the equation that the shorter a girl’s crop top is, the more men she’s going to sleep with. It is their strong belief that everyone arrives at the festival on the brink of orgasm, and spends the next two or three days sharing the love.

Upon arrival, you won’t be greeted by attractive ravers feeding you MDMA mouth-to-mouth; instead you’ll probably be greeted by a frazzled 19-to-20-something-year-old volunteer in black

But really, the idea that “adarsh Indians” have of music festivals is as true to the reality as Hrithik Roshan’s Mohenjo Daro was to historical facts. As wildly exciting as this world of music festivals sounds when viewed from a sanskari lens, the reality is just as dreary.

Upon arrival, you won’t be greeted by attractive ravers feeding you MDMA mouth-to-mouth, instead you’ll probably be greeted by a frazzled 19-to-20-something-year-old volunteer in black, who is going to take three times as long as he should to get you your pass. Once you’re in, you’re ready for the roller coaster of sex, drugs, and music to begin, but try lighting a cigarette and a giant genie (bouncer) will magically manifest out of thin air to make sure there’s nothing naughty going on. Even getting a simple pint of beer involves fighting off a dozen competitors for the bartender’s attention, only to lose it to some girl with an oversized bindi. And don’t worry, you will not get lucky with this girl. At the last music festival, the most sexually charged thing I witnessed was two drunk Delhi boys trading pelvic thrusts. Not on the dance floor, in the food court.

I would urge the Congress, the BJP, and any other political body to please visit a music festival so they understand that attending one is just like going to a movie. The only difference being this one lasts much, much longer and is way colder. Long, sleepless nights in your threadbare tent, long lines for overpriced goods, and longer ones to the porta-potty.

Music festivals are not the ghor Kalyug you imagine them to be, dear politicians, but a regular evening in your constituencies. Maybe next year you’ll turn a blind eye to them – the way you often do on a regular day at your job.