Ritviz is the only Indian musician to have worked with Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) on their first-ever South Asian superhero show, Ms. Marvel. And now, the much-loved independent musician is all set to embark on an all-India tour soon in 2023.
Pallabi Dey Purkayastha
Last Updated: 06.16 PM, Nov 06, 2022
You know that sweet sensation when you hear a voice so distinct you can tell from afar it’s a certain someone? With independent musician Ritviz’s vocals, it is always that feeling of familiarity and fondness. From his chartbusting Udd Gaye—which made its way into the movies; Kartik Aaryan’s Pati Patni Aur Woh to be precise—to his more unconventional numbers such as Liggi and the recently released Aaj Na from his album MIMMI, it is safe to say that there are far and few between indie acts who enjoy the kind of fandom Ritviz does. Why? “My music is not controlled by any entity,” he tells us during our Zoom interview.
In this free-flowing conversation, Ritviz spoke about ‘flexing’ over his Marvel association, what love truly is across ages and that epiphanic moment when it all made sense to him, and most importantly, why he is okay with Bollywood not ‘valuing’ him like most of us do.
Excerpts from our conversation with the musician:
Q: On your latest album, you have worked with the man-of-the-moment Adarsh Gourav (of The White Tiger fame). How was it working with Adarsh Gourav he has featured in one of the videos from your latest album and the song Aaj Na is already doing pretty well?
RITVIZ: He is such a brilliant performer and a brilliant actor, along with Sheeba Chaddha ma’am (who has featured in the same video in question). I mean, it is an honour to have them both (on my music video) and people are obviously responding positively and the video has turned out the way we were looking at it during the shoot. Yeah, everything turned out well. It’s pretty epic.
Q: So, why don’t you share with us what MIMMI entails and what’s the inspiration behind it all?
RITVIZ: Yeah, so to give you a brief understanding of this first, I need to let you know MIMMI is my mom’s nickname and this is obviously dedicated to her. This album is basically a parallel between my adult life and my childhood, and the love that I received as a child. The love that our parents give us is very unconditional in nature and the love that I am experiencing as a young adult: I am looking at a very conditional world out here. As in with romantic relationships and friendships and everything else, you know. The album is a quest in me to try and find that (referring to love received as a child) in my adult life. As the album progresses, I am like trying to find it and the struggle to sort of replicate that life in my adult self. That’s basically the journey of the album. The album, towards the end, wraps up with this realization that I had: I have been expecting unconditional love and that itself is a conflict. Because, if I am expecting, then I am conditional in nature. So, that sort of clears it up for me and I have this moment of clarity where I realise that I need to give; I need to be. I pour my 100 percent (in everything I do) and my reward is my process and not the result and as long as I am doing that, there may be a return or not but I just got to give. This is what the album, in totality, is.
Q: When we talk about Asian representation on a global scale, you are the only Indian musician to have worked on a Marvel project (Ms. Marvel, first Asian superhero web show streaming on Disney + Hotstar). How was that like for you, considering it was a massive responsibility to shoulder?
RITVIZ: It was pretty epic. I think it is a pretty huge source to flex, ‘I made it to the MCU guys!’ (laughs!) It is really cool but more than anything, being part of that sound track was really epic. The South-Asian representation that was happening was very important on a global scale was a big move. So, just big love and big shoutout to Sanah from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the creator of the show.
Q: In the last couple of years, especially in the West, representation for people of colour in the movies is being talked about and implemented on a grand scale in Hollywood. Do you think this need for representation is just a fad or is it here to stay?
RITVIZ: I feel it is absolutely here to stay, and representation is very important for all of this to happen. I think it is not just with Marvel and what they are doing right now, but in general there are so many more opportunities and I am looking at this (South Asian representation) as opportunities for our culture to be brought under spotlight: a culture that is very rich. Ours is a rich culture that is still not in the spotlight and people still do not know much about. Just because of the opportunities like these (referring to his stint with Ms. Marvel), I am actually looking forward to an epic next five years. Representation is absolutely important, yeah. No doubt about that, and we need opportunities like that.
Q: Of course, you have a massive fanbase and are one of the most sought-after musicians in India. But, do you think you have been underutilised by Bollywood as compared to, say, Jubin Nautiyal? No connections here, just an example.
RITVIZ: I don’t want to blame Bollywood here but I obviously have my opinions about Bollywood. But I don’t think we, me and my team as a whole, generally wanted to go down that path. Bollywood was never something I wanted to follow anyway. I was never like ‘oh, this is where I go and make it’. Just to say it boldly, I don’t think I wanted to make music for films. That was not how I had envisioned my career and what we are doing right now as independent artists is that I am putting out music for me and the music that is going out there for fans are the people who listen to it for me. There’s no movie attached to what I am doing. There is no bigger entity here that is controlling my music. And purely based on that (observation), I don’t think I ever wanted to go down that route. But, while I say this, there’s also such a brilliant set of people in Bollywood that I would love to work with and if I ever got the opportunity, nothing would be more epic (smiles!) But, to answer your question, does Bollywood underutilize me? I feel like… this is a very… I don’t know because there are enough epic people also who said very great things about me. So, if I had to generalise, then yeah, the value isn’t there. But, then again, I also feel that there are also very epic people out there. I would choose to look at people who have valued and understood what I am trying to do (in terms of music).