Monica Dogra strikes a fine balance between performer and pin-up. She knows she is outrageously good- looking, but rarely depends on her sex appeal to survive in an entertainment industry obsessed with objectifying women. She could have, you know, debuted in a mainstream movie, with the camera taking useless detours of her thighs. Instead, she chose to star (and surprisingly hold ground) opposite a mighty Khan. She needn’t have bothered with working with Indian folk musicians, be part of an experimental music project like the Dewarists, or even create the niche Shaa’ir&Func enjoys. Dogra could well have been another Sunidhi Chauhan (she’s much better looking), become a pop sensation, gyrate in suggestive videos and made pools of money.
Dogra is essentially avant-garde – and therein lies her appeal. When I saw her undress for this shoot, I knew instantly that this was not a woman you would want to mess around with. She will not give a rat’s ass about what you think of her. And, she will make sure that you play according to her rules. She is a dominatrix, and she loves being in charge. This attitude is heavily reflected in Dogra’s work. There is an ‘I-don’t-give-a-fuck’ about her music. Emotional, cerebral and electric, her music mirrors the kind of passion her personality bubbles with. While one can argue about the kind of music she produces depending on personal taste, the raw uninhibited energy she exudes both during her recordings and live performances is unlike any other musician in the Indie scene today. And her kind of shameless passion is narrow-mindedly regarded as a man’s thing. When a woman comes along being so unabashed and free, it is irrefutably sexy.
Come September and Dogra is going to release her debut solo album, and she has a host of concerts lined up in the French Reunion Island and Europe post that. She is also excited about her films Fireflies and Relapse. In a recent interview to a newspaper she said that she dislikes the fact that people were trying to fit her music into one genre. ‘Conscious dance music’ is what she calls it – a term created by her. She aptly calls herself an expressionist and believes that all art forms are interwoven and inseparable. Neo-hippie. That’s what she is. And, a hot one at that.
By Arnesh Ghose / Photography by Shahid Datawala / Styled by Tanya Mehta / Hair and Make Up by Elton Fernandes