With multiple languages, instruments and cultural influences, South Asia’s legacy of music has provided entertainment, storytelling and connection for years on end. As we’ve witnessed the more recent global rise of South Asian artists and genres, we’ve also seen the pivotal role music plays in identity, belonging and reconnecting with roots amongst the global South Asian diaspora.
New documentary, Ascending explores this in the context of one of the world’s biggest and most popular music festivals, Coachella. Directed and produced by Zoe Malhotra and Meghna Chakraborty, the 25-minute doco captures the historic moment when six South Asian artists redefined the festival experience at Coachella 2023. The artists are Ali Sethi, Diljit Dosanjh, Joy Crookes, Charli XCX, Jai Paul and Jai Wolf.
In a joint statement shared on their Instagram accounts, Malhotra and Chakraborty described the experience of working on this project as a “beautiful journey”.
“It was a beautiful journey to make this project. We’re honored to helm a story that celebrates the historic moment at Coachella 2023 when six South Asian artists redefined the festival experience and global music landscape,” the statement began.
“The first short documentary on Coachella’s Youtube channel is a story that champions South Asian artistry across regions, religions and identities. Thank you to everyone who brought this project to life, and we hope this inspires more celebratory storytelling rooted in art, community and culture.”
A trailer teasing the documentary shows footage of various artists performing, backstage interviews and expert commentary from South Asians in the music and cultural space.
“I never knew I could do this job professionally but now I can play to the biggest festival in America,” Joy Crookes, whose mother is Bangladeshi, says in the sneak peek.
“There’s so much talent within our community and it’s so exciting that the world is paying attention,” adds poet Rupi Kaur.
The documentary’s release coincides with the announcement of the 2024 Coachella lineup, which once again features a few South Asian performers including Punjabi-Candian musicians AP Dhillon and Nav, and Indian carnatic musician Sid Sriram. The festival will take place in Indio, California across two weekends: April 12-14 and April 19-21.
Brown representation is only getting louder in the music world, as it should! Check out Ascending below: