Arthur Conan Doyle once said, “There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.” More than a century later, three Mumbai-based music buffs, rather inadvertently, charted a similar course. Instead of a violin, they chose melodious songs of yesteryear, for half an hour on weekdays, to help their listeners briefly forget the misery of these pandemic-hit times.
Meet Archisman Mozumder, Shankar Iyer and R. Balaji — the men behind these live, guided listening modules aired on Zoom for members. The trio, who started meeting at a common friend’s house at weekends to discuss music in 2010, have organised music-centric stage shows since 2014.
In 2017, they co-founded Teesri Manzil Infotainment Ltd and held a series of shows across cities for companies. Today, with a handpicked collection of over 20,000 songs across genres, they are Team Rewind. For over a year, they presented ‘Rewind Song of the Day’ on Radio Nasha, and became familiar to FM listeners in Mumbai.
Archisman or ‘Archie’, who has a strong understanding of classical and light music, has worked with several IT firms in India and abroad. He presently runs a partnership firm that deals with IT consumables. An ex-banker, Shankar loves to keep adding to his deep knowledge of light music, both Hindi and Tamil.
His ability to recall instances and anecdotes make his shows popular. Likewise, with a matching desire to understand the finer nuances of film music, Balaji brings in new ideas and also adds his entrepreneurial experience to the company.
These three 52-year-olds found their ‘calling’ during the first lockdown, when they started with one-hour complimentary offerings, from April 20 to May 3 last year, but this made way for a half-hour show every alternate weekday for subscribers, with a repeat live show the following morning for those in the U.S. Thoughtfully curated, with a selection of songs mostly drawn from Hindi films across the decades, and some in other Indian languages from time to time, the shows brought back the joys of listening to the radio, combining nostalgia with insights and trivia.
In addition to this ‘R4’ series, there are shows presented by members, which became popular enough for Team Rewind to make them a weekly affair. Further additions include a fortnightly 45-minute Tamil weekend show from 8.30 p.m. as well as the ASEAN R4 series, a 45-minute show every Sunday aimed at listeners in Southeast Asia.
Reflecting on the early days, Balaji says, “It began as an experiment during the lockdown, when we thought of playing some songs for our music-loving friends, before others joined in.” Shankar adds, “We always loved talking about music, but the idea was also to help people de-stress a little while listening to one hour of songs.”
According to Archisman, it was Balaji’s idea to hold half-hour shows, thrice a week. “The intent of making it a profitable organisation was always there. Balaji was the one who was convinced that these guided listening sessions could be monetised.”
Considerable preparation goes into the making of each show, mixing popular numbers with the odd rare song, highlighting little-known facts about singers famous and obscure, instrumentalists, composers, music arrangers and lyricists. And all this is reflected in R4’s success, with the shows whetting the listeners’ curiosity and leaving them hungry for more.