Children Of Hindu, Muslim Immigrants Drawn to Hard Rock

January 9, 2010

Author: Russell Contreras

Source: The Washington Post

Wire Service: AP

Artwork from the Punjab state of India decorates the Ray family home. A Jo hann Sebastian Bach statue sits on a piano. But in the basement -- cluttered with wires, old concert fliers and drawings -- Arjun Ray, 25, is fighting distortion from his electric guitar.

For this son of Indian immigrants, trained in classical violin and raised on traditional Punjab music, getting his three Pakistani American bandmates in sync is the goal on this cold New England evening. Their band, the Kominas, is trying to record a punk rock version of the classic Bollywood song, "Choli Ke Peeche" ("Behind the Blouse").

"Yeah," said Shahjehan Khan, 26, one of the band's guitarists, "there are a lot of contradictions going on here."

Deep in the woods of this colonial town boils a kind of revolutionary movement. From the basement of this middle-class home tucked in the woods west of Boston, the Kominas have helped launched a small but growing South Asian and Middle Eastern punk rock movement that is attracting children of Muslim and Hindu immigrants. It also is drawing scorn from some traditional Muslims who say their political, hard-edged music is "haraam," or forbidden. The movement, an anti-establishment subculture born of religiously conservative communities, is the subject of two new films and is a hot topic on social-networking sites.