‘Here From The Aakash Mehta Video’: 10 Indie Musicians We Discovered Through Standup Comedy

By DA Staff 31 December 2023 4 mins read

It turns out standup comedy is a great music discovery tool!

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There are a lot of ways to discover new music today: there’s so many blogs to read, playlists to check out, newsletters to subscribe to. But there’s still nothing that replicates the unexpected joy of discovering your favourite new song where you least expect it, in the background of a TV show, the end credits of a movie, or… the opening segment of a comedy video. That’s right, Indian standup comedians love putting musical easter eggs in their videos and specials, showing off their hard-earned good taste and pointing their fans in the direction of musical artists they love and admire. 

Here are some great indie artists (and songs) championed by Indian standup comedians that you may not have discovered otherwise. Let’s see how many of them become regulars on your 2024 playlists. 

1. Achint Thakkar (via Abhishek Upmanyu)

Abhishek Upmanyu closed out his much-anticipated 2023 special Jealous of Sabziwala with a song called Papa Gaye. Written by Upmanyu himself, the song is performed by composer and musician Achint Thakkar. Older music-heads may remember Achint from his early 2010s alt-psych band Rosemary, which made plenty of waves over its short life. Since then Thakkar has become a composer extraordinaire, providing iconic scores and themes for shows like Scam 1992 and Scoop. He’s also a regular Upmanyu collaborator: the two also released the hilarious Gaye Vo Kahan in 2021, a song that was part of the comedian’s Team Animals set. 

2. Prabh Deep (via Vir Das)

As the theme song for The Field Dream—the YouTube docu-series following his quest to perform at a cricket stadium—Vir Das chose Kala, a lush, jazz/R&B indebted track off Prabh Deep’s 2019 EP King. The New Delhi rapper’s rhymes about investing in talent over glamour perfectly summarise Das’s approach on the docu-series (and in life), dripping with swagger and reflecting an ironclad belief in the benefits of hard work over hype and self-promotion. 

3. Dreamhour (via Aakash Mehta)

The end credits of Aakash Mehta’s 2023 special No Smoking features a sample from It’s A Song, a new single by Indian synthpop band Dreamhour. A solo project by Siliguri producer Debo Sanyal, Dreamhour has been crafting slick, sexy, neon-tinged synthpop for over half a decade. Check out his 2023 album Now That We Are Here if you like retro-futuristic pop music. 

4. 1080g and Benny Dayal (via Aakash Mehta)

A musician himself—he’s already got an album out—Aakash Mehta can be depended on to curate some great deep cuts on his comedy specials. Nasty, his second 2023 special, opens with Cleaning Time, a silky-smooth rap collaboration between 1080G and Benny Dayal. Over the track’s scooped out synths and 808 percussion, 1080G and Dayal spit throwaway rhymes like “mera naam Wiper, woh bhi gaadi wala,” showcasing a sense of humour that makes the song a perfect fit for a Mehta special. 

5. DAKAIT, Aniket Raturi, Sez On The Beat (via Munawar Faruqui)

Comedian and reality TV regular Munawar Faruqui returned to YouTube this September with Kashif Ki Dosti, a new comedy clip that raked in close to 9 million views. The video opens with the unforgettable Dev Nagri, a collaboration between DAKAIT, Aniket Raturi and veteran beatmaker Sez On The Beat that pays tribute to scenic Uttarakhand and Garhwali rap. You won’t be able to get this earworm out of your head. 

6. Chabuk (via Chirag Panjwani)

Hone Waali Ex, the new YouTube video by Chiraj Panjwani, ends with Pyaar, a raucous, abrasive track by Mumbai rap-punk band Chabuk off their 2019 debut EP Downmarket. Helmed by Mumbai rap veteran Microphon3, Chabuk marries the Mumbaiya slang of gully rap with the groovy aggression of Rage Against The Machine. Pyaar’s ruminations on the nature of love—growled over ska and nu-metal riffs—is the perfect kicker to Panjwani’s masterful set about toxic relationships. 

7. Tigercub (via Kanan Gill) 

Kanan Gill likes to do things differently, and for the intro and outro of his latest special This Is It, the comedian dug up a tune by a little-known Brighton indie-rock band Tigercub. Released in 2021, Sleepwalker’s distortion-drenched riffs and floor-rattling groove add a jolt of adrenaline to the proceedings, getting the audience in the perfect mood for a Kanan Gill set. 

8. Alpha (via Daniel Fernandes)

It was an inspired choice by Daniel Fernandes to bookend Alive And Vaccinated—his 2023 special about surviving the pandemic and everything else India has thrown at us recently—with Aage Badh. The 2021 track by gravel-voiced Hyderabad rapper Alpha is all about making lemonade from life’s lessons, with its central exhortation of aage badh (“move forward”). Good advice to follow in 2024. 

9. Nucleya (Biswa Kalyan Rath)

In 2015, Biswa Kalyan Rath dropped five comedy clips in quick succession on YouTube. The clips went viral, establishing Biswa as an exciting new voice in the then-emerging Indian comedy scene. Rath set the mood for those clips with Aaja (feat. Avneet Khurmi and Guri Gangsta), a suitably warped drum-and-bass cut from Nucleya’s 2015 debut album Bass Rani. Eight years on, both Rath and Nucleya are established senior artists in their respective fields, but the mutual love remains. For his 2023 special Mood Kharab, Rath collaborated with Nucleya on Din Kitna Sundar Hai, a surreal synth-pop nursery rhyme that you’ll find yourself humming in the most awkward of social situations. Check out the post-modernist pop-art music video below (and we don’t just love it because it features ants). 

10. Swadesi (via Kunal Kamra)

Kunal Kamra is Indian comedy’s inconvenient truth-teller, so it’s appropriate that he ends his 2022 debut special Be Like with Sau Takka Sach, the rabble-rousing protest anthem by Mumbai alt-rap crew Swadesi. Over brooding, ominous production, 100RBH and MC Mawali rap about fighting off despair and raising your voice for what is right. Good words to live by in 2024.


DA Staff

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