In a country that is a billion people young, identity is a hard-fought thing. For some, however, the definition of identity is that of self-expression — it is a story of introspection and rediscovery. Creativity takes courage; the path is lonely.
Anushka Manchanda’s reinvention to Nuka is one such story of hunger. Nuka is an alter-ego; it’s the reinvention of an artiste who exploits her full creative license. It is an ode to every artiste who fights to shape her/his idea of reality. For the reality is malleable. As a multi-talented artiste — Anushka Manchanda, now Nuka, shows us how. If the transformation was to be scripted, it would come in five-parts —
Chapter 1: Anushka Manchanda | Prelude
Born to parents who head-banged to Hendrix and Santana, Anushka is a child of Rock ’n Roll. Trained in guitar and piano, she stepped into the Viva! rollercoaster to form India’s first Indi-Pop Girl Band.
From here, it was a mainstream pivot to her career as Anushka’s talent wouldn’t go unnoticed.
The metalhead found herself in the commercial Bollywood space, crooning to popular numbers that trended airwaves. Her indie-nature still fought hard against restraints, as she crafted her career as a VJ, singer and actor, gravitating to meaningful art.
She resonates with the indie-life. Every successful indie artiste, faces the dichotomy of pursuing the route of the commercial or the creative side. In Anushka’s case, the latter manifests as Nuka, and the hints came in two years ago.
Chapter 2: Nuka | The Manifestation
The idea was first sown in Los Angeles in 2016. Anushka reveals this as she sifts through a postcard, recalling her last evening in L.A. at Moby’s vegan restaurant Little Pine. “We’d wanted to catch the last sunset from near the Observatory with the best view, but we couldn’t make it. I was really, really disappointed, and we’d come down to Little Pine,” explains Anushka.
Then something strange happened.
“It all happened in just a few moments. We were at this beautiful setting on an incredible night, and the mood was getting lighter. As we gazed out at the sky, we witnessed a flash of inexplicable light bolt crisscross through the sky. It was crazy! 80 other perplexed strangers were an eyewitness to this mystery. The evening soon turned beyond expectations, as we felt connected. The universe was in motion. This moved me deeply,” she recollects.
“That’s when my friend gave me this moniker with these unforgettable words, ‘May all your noble wishes manifest through the graceful dynamic structure of limitless flow. With love and being,’” reads the artiste-turned-editor. That manifestation has come through two years following the incident.
As Nuka, Anushka Manchanda reveals the true genius of her talents. Apart from writing and featuring in the soundtrack, she has co-conceptualised and video-edited the song too. With Nuka, Anushka has carved a pseudonym that explores her creative identity with unconstrained enthusiasm and it is exciting to behold.
Chapter 3: Don’t Be Afraid | A Dream Takes Shape
“With Don’t Be Afraid, I wanted to explore the idea of life, death, soul and energy. It explores the ying and the yang, as energy thrives and transforms throughout the universe. We are all one. Manifestations of the same energy,” says the singer.
“As an honest interpretation of this message — Navzar Eranee (the director) and I explored ideas ranging from religion, culture, beliefs, life and energy to bring this idea to life. It had to be an authentic message,” says Anushka.
To envision this dream, director Navzar Eranee guided a 3-day shoot across Alibaug. As everyone came together, so did the filmmakers’ vision.
Through an intense session of make-up and prosthetics, Anushka was transformed into a tree that symbolised the all-seeing witness of the universal karmic cycle.
To get the swimming pool shot right, they experimented with both the body art and the jump itself.
Anushka discloses, “I am not comfortable with being underwater and we were shooting this in January, and it was biting cold. My costume was made of latex, and we had to practice the fall a few times to make it work. The lighting too had to be managed to get the shot right.”
Chapter 4: Themes and Symbolisms | The Manifestation
The music video was originally titled Open Arms and was from the perspective of a tree that plays witness to the cryptic cycle of life and death. Anushka later changed the name to Don’t Be Afraid as the video took form.
“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The story evokes the soul which comes to connect with the universal energy of Gaia and the Universe. Once the body is dead, the soul awakens,” reveals the singer.
The child offers an insight and perspective from an uncorrupted mind. The child sees this cycle of life play out, since he is listening, attuned, not consumed by emotions of death around him.
The effigy that burns in the video is symbolic Anushka explains, “Wings symbolise freedom for me. The effigy itself is an adaptation of a god on fire. Wrapped in red, the effigy symbolises the colour of fire and that of passion. It’s an intense colour that mirrors the dynamics of the mood.”
Chapter 5: Born Anew | Postlude
With Nuka’s Don’t Be Afraid, Anushka Manchanda brings forth a new manifestation of energy.
‘Mute’ Full series on @kissnuka . Photographer : Pretika Menon @howtostayinsane Hair and makeup : Eshwar Log @eshwarlog Production design : Joyston Vaz @joystonvaz Concept : Nuka and Navzar Eranee @kissnuka @neranee Photo editors : Ram Kumar and Pretika Menon @rkpimages Agent : Swetha Shetty @swethshetty Assistance : Nida Sheikh Location : @bigredtent and @theitravelgroup2011 #dontbeafraid #NUKA #anushkamanchanda #mute
It is the reinvention of a multi-talented artiste who pushes against labels to reimagine her identity from the minds of a promising storyteller. One who transgresses both the visual and music mediums with equal élan.
Anushka sounds us off; this is only the first of many videos, there are two more projects in the anvil. Anushka’s energy is infectious, and we are all for it. With Version 2.0 of Anushka Manchanda, her alter-ego Nuka is here to stay. We couldn’t be more excited, more power to you!
Tune into Don’t Be Afraid, the music video by Nuka here.
Stay tuned to TheVibe.