Banjii is a musician from Georgia, USA and Mayuri is a dancer and business strategy expert from Pune, a heritage city in India. This couple is currently on tour in the USA. They love recording and releasing music videos that capture the essence of different parts of the country.
Mayuri and Banjii, welcome to Focus! The message in Gaslighted is heartfelt! But usually, the word has a negative connotation. I’d love to know why you named it so?
Thank you for the opportunity and support!
This song has two distinct parts. The first half is a question, a yearning for something more, a desire for salvation. Banjii wrote the first half of this song 4 years ago when he was going through a difficult time in his personal life. This is why he named it so.
We wrote the second half of the song together, as Banjii and Mayuri, following our union, as a response to the first half, a solution, a resolution if you will. Truth, love, and faith set us free. They clear our eyes and help us see past the gaslighting.
The ending especially is supposed to imply that there’s a lot of gaslighting in the world today that gets in the way of us finding God, Jesus who has been there in front of us the whole time.
Banjii, what does a story mean to you? Which part of a story appeals to you the most?
A story is like a photograph for me. It preserves the moment in time. How I felt, why I felt. Stories are also cathartic. Telling them has been like therapy for me. When a song I’m writing is complete, I feel a sense of emotional release. Interestingly, many of my songs are premonitions too. It’s like I wrote the words before they came true or I willed them into existence. I love the details of a story. When I write songs, they’re specific. One of my songs has the lyrics…
“Fry the eggs and stir the grits, wash the baby and pick up sticks
The fire died and the pipes froze
I’ve got it to do, Lord I’ve got it to do”
This is imagery based on exactly what I was experiencing when I was writing and it made the story real, for the audience. Bringing people to where I am, emotionally and physically.
As storytellers, what kinds of stories do you want to tell?
Real stories of real people often go untold because of the lack of opportunity or support. We are what we believe and we believe what we see and hear. We want people to see and hear what is possible…a good world, a just world, a United world, through telling stories of people that have surpassed the limits imposed on them by society, starting with our own. The objective would be to inspire change and facilitate connection through these stories.
Mayuri, Gaslighted is your third project. How would you assess your improvement as a director from the initial days to now?
I learned more and more about the technical aspects of lighting and camerawork as we moved from one video to the next. In our first video, there are parts where the camera is shaky and the angles are not optimal and we look back at those shots fondly, as reminders of how far we’ve come in a short time. We are getting a lot more well-versed in picking locations, licensing, and equipment requirements. Also, the team has developed more trust in me and understands my vision better which allows us to be more efficient and do better every time.
How much do you enjoy directing? What is your goal as a director?
I spent years prior as a Director in the corporate world, Director of M&A, so working with teams has been something that I’m well versed in. I love working with people, it’s my favorite part of any job. I believe that every person on the team has a very unique role and my role as Director is to provide a safe environment and the structure to allow for each person to do their very best. As long as I have a clear vision, which I share in a clear way, and a team that is bought in, it works! I’d even go as far as to say that the hard part is before the directing even begins. It’s forming the team that aligns with you in intention and earning their trust.
My next question would be to both of you, the story is very cute and sweet. How did you end up writing this?
All our stories in “UnCommon Love Story” – the 7 part music video series are based on true life! Edwin actually has this Llama, which Banjii bought him around the same time he wrote the first version of Gaslighted. Edwin protects and loves this llama and takes it around with him everywhere. He asked me once, “Mayuri, how long can I carry around this Llama and still be cool?” This story was our response to his authentic question. A poetic way for lessons to be learned for all involved!
Sometimes while writing, an author faces writer’s block. I’d love to know how you get over it? What inspires you to write?
We find so much inspiration in real life! Every person has a story that needs to be first lived and then told. And everybody’s story has a purpose that needs to be discovered. Our writing process includes understanding the world from the point of view of different individuals and helping them discover and live their purpose as a part of the writing process itself! This applies to us too, first and foremost. So the story is written in real-time! It’s hard to say… did we live the story to then tell it? Or did we tell the story to then live it? Somehow we are doing both.
Your children are a part of this music video. How special was it to shoot with them?
They are also a part of our next music video, which was released on June 15, and it’s incredible to see how much they’ve improved in such a short time! We couldn’t ask for better costars. There’s zero complaining and a hundred percent trust. Their work ethic at the age of 12 and 14 exceeds some of the adults we’ve worked with and it’s so rewarding to teach them the process of creating music and film through actually doing it with them. It’s also very emotional to know that we can impart to them lessons that took us 20 years to learn, in an exceptionally short period of time and at a very young age, so that they don’t have to go through some of the things (read: gaslighting) we went through and they can live their true purpose, whatever it may be, much sooner in life.
How does it feel to travel across the country? How does your traveling help you to write stories?
Every part of the world has its own history, its own story to tell. And we end up in places that want to tell the same story that we are trying to tell at that time. The outside mirrors the inside. We wanted to tell a story of intention, grounding, and salvation and we found ourselves in Sedona… the home of ancient worlds and energy vortexes where intentions are set and brought to life. We wanted to tell a story of love and we found ourselves on the beaches of California…romantic, sensual. And beautiful Georgia… the home of the duality of the very old and the emerging new. This is where we found ourselves for “Gaslighted.” The outward representation of our inward dualities.
Mayuri, do you have a plan to shoot something like these music videos around India? If you could, which city would you pick to travel to first?
Absolutely! We even toyed with doing that for “UnCommon Love Story.” Even if we don’t do it for this project, it will certainly happen, and it’ll happen soon! There are so many beautiful stories in India that are waiting to be told. The land of the extremes. All the wonder and suffering. It’s all there. India makes sense if you see it as a whole. Every state has its own culture, its own landscape, its own independent language, traditions, and food! I’d pick Mumbai first, only because of the humanity that it represents… people from all over the country much like New York. But to really tell the story it needs to be multiple parts of the country… a bit of the north, south, east, and west!