MYSTIC MUSIC – ‘When we sing and dance we lose the ego’


Some of the best spiritual singers from the country — Parvathy Baul, Mukhtiar Ali, Warsi Brothers, and others — join whirling dervishes from Turkey for the eleventh edition of the Sufi and mystic music festival, Ruhaniyat.

Watch them perform under a star-lit sky at Horniman Circle, Mumbai this weekend.

With nine groups from different parts of the country being part of Ruhaniyat, the common thread that runs through the festival is the theme of devotion, spirituality and the feeling of oneness with God. “ Seventy per cent of the performances included in the schedule are new, while the remaining performances have been seen at Ruhaniyat earlier,” reveals Mahesh Babu, director of Banyan Tree Events, which organises Ruhaniyat. Babu spends seven months in a year meeting people who are practitioners of Sufism or Mysticism.
“ Music is puja for them, it’s part of their daily life. Listening to them transports me to a different world,” he adds. This year for the first time the line- up at the Sufi music festival includes Devaram, mystic hymns dating back to the 7th century from Madurai, Waee from remote villages of the deserts of Kutch and polyphony songs from Bulgaria.

Mystic minstrel from Bengal
Parvathy Baul, who has been a part of the festival since its first year, says it has always been a fantastic experience for her. “ All the artists who come there carry such a valuable treasure. We get the opportunity to meet not just artists but sadhakas and practictioners of Sufism,” she says.
Baul started studying the Baul parampara 18 years ago.
She lived with her gurus and learnt from them. “ Those were the best years of my life. It was such an uplifting relationship.
It’s a sublime relationship that takes you beyond the pettiness of daily life. It is a time when you can be a real student and surrender at the feet of the Guru,” reminisces Baul.
Ask her what is the one message that she thinks her music delivers, and she says, “ Love. Love more and more.
Practising love is Sahaja Yoga, a simple connection. When we sing and dance we lose the ego.
Love helps transcend all the dos and don’ts in life. You let yourself flow and experience a oneness with the universe,” she says. The singer believes that if love is paramount letting go of one’s ego is not so difficult. “ Let there be no duality.
Duality comes from ego.” To the layman it may appear that Baul lets herself flow without abandon and loses herself completely when she sings, “ On the contrary, I find myself,” she remarks.
“ We are lost most other times. When we are connected to the Lord, we find ourselves”. The love for the Lord is so eminent in everything she says, “ The love is hard to describe. I can only say, I have not fallen in love, I have risen in love,” she adds as she breaks into a laugh.

Tamil Nadu’s temple music
Mutukumaran and Kumaraswaminathan, who have come to the city from Kanjanur village in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu to be part of Ruhaniyat for the first time, believe that music is the most beautiful when it is sung to the Lord. They sing the music of the Nayanmars, the 63 Shaivite devotional poets/ saints of Tamil Nadu. “ We wake up the Lord with our songs. It’s our tradition to sing in the temples,” says Mutukumaran adding “ We are coming to Mumbai and we are going to be listening to Sufi music for the first time.” The music is passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth. Mutukumaran learnt from his father and now he is teaching his son as well.

Kabir’s wisdom
For 26 generations, singer Mukhtiyar Ali’s family has been passing on their knowledge about the traditional music. Ali is famous for his Kabirbanis.
“ We will try to keep the tradition alive and my kids are learning Kabirbani from me,” he says. “ When I sing Kabir ( sic) I only feel one needs to understand oneself. If people listen to Kabir’s words and implement them, they will be able to realise and understand themselves a lot better,” he adds. Before signing off, he quotes words of Kabir, which have inspired him the most and he feels are most needed today: Pothi pad- pad jag mua pandit bhaya na koi, Dhai akshar prem ke pade so pandit hoye ( No one becomes a scholar, reading great books of the world, But he who has studied the four letters of ‘love’, is a learned man.)

SUREKHA S.

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Akshai Sarin – A visceral connection.


‘Glocal’ music maker Akshai Sarin is set to release his first major EDM album on Tiesto’s Black Hole Recordings early next year. 

Depending on who you ask, Akshai Sarin is either the new poster boy of Indian electronica or just another good-looking pretender populating the creative firmament of Mumbai. Admittedly, while the noise around him is still an underground buzz, it’s one with potential to get louder.

Sample this: Even though his debut album Soundscapes released when he was just 16, Akshai’s first mainstream album Connectedis set for worldwide release on Dutch heavyweight Tiesto’s label Black Hole Recordings in January 2012. He’s also recently played at the Exit Festival in Serbia, a four-day event near the Danube river, where over 2.5 million revelers relentlessly party across 20 different stages, covering every genre from Metal to Reggae, with artists including Arcade Fire, Deadmau5, Magnetic Man, Jamiroquai, MIA and Portishead. His collaboration with Russian Trace duo Moonbeam on a track called Elephant Ride, the video for which was shot outside Dadar Station and an under-construction building, last year is due to hit a major international music channel in the country any week now. Whatever the hype (or lack thereof), there’s a lot bubbling beneath the surface.

A complex bundle of both confidence and humility, Akshai wears the hats of composer, producer and performer with the ease of a seasoned pro. A formally trained musician, he learnt the tabla when he was eight apart from taking piano lessons, before going on to study at theLondon School of Music. “Creating music has always been a part of my life. I’ve been making music for a really long time. When I released Soundscapes, it was like Buddha Bar but way before Buddha Bar. It’s something I take pride in, I guess. The album was a digital release and I realised the power of technology when people started ordering it from as far off as Austriaand Bosnia.”

While in London, Akshai also played at the 2005 Glastonbury Music Festival and even tried his hand at DJ’ing before giving it up two years ago to focus on making original music. “I started playing live gigs in 2007 and performed at the Singapore F1 Rocks event two years in a row alongside artists like Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, N.E.R.D, Empire of the Sun and The Chemical Brothers. One of the most interesting gigs I played at though was in Bangalore, for the silver jubilee celebrations of the Art of Living Foundation in 2006,” he says.

Ermcome again? He grins when he says, “There were nearly 800,000 people at the Jakkur airfield, where I performed a remix of the theme song Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning ‘one world, one family’. I got on stage with just a laptop and keyboard and saw a sea of people in front of me, including Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, dadas, dadis, uncles, aunties, kids, tribal people from Chattisgarh, Abdul Kalam, and the presidents of France, Mauritius and Germany. I started to play the chorus and then suddenly kicked into some hardcore breakbeats and heavy basslines and saw people curiously moving in closer and closer. Next thing I know, they were all jumping and dancing around with the happiest looks on their faces! They kept asking for an encore! It was surreal because this was a seriously spiritual audience and Shubha Mudgal had just performed, and then there was me! It’s a different high playing for an audience like that. That’s when I realised that as long as you keep your music real and the emotion behind it intact, there’s no reason why people won’t appreciate it.”

There’s a mystical streak running through the musician and it’s apparent when he talks about an album he did for his aunt a meditation instructor called (don’t laugh now!) The Ultimate Aha. “We recorded it when I was in still in university, behind a flour mill, on a zero budget. We actually had to record when the mill wasn’t running to avoid the sound it generated!” he laughs. “The response we got to that album was phenomenal though. My aunt still gets emails for it 10 years later. It’s nice to know that the album you put the least money and the most love and effort into actually reached out to people. Often we’re so isolated in our existence that I think what everyone just wants to do whether at a club or at an ashram is connect with other people on a more visceral level. For me, music is a way of connecting with other people.” Having preferred to stand outside the mainstream all this while, Akshai confesses, “To be honest, one of the reasons why I haven’t released a lot of music is because I’m scared. It’s a big part of who I am and I’m afraid of being judged. So I’ve taken the easy way out so far.”

Zahra Khanon .BT.


Sonam Kalra talks about her band Sufi Gospel Project.


A soulful blend..

You’ve heard Sufi music and perhaps, Gospel music too. Now try thinking of a fusion between these diverse music forms. Unable to process this amalgamation of East meets West? In that case, you should give the Sufi Gospel Project a listen, an initiative by Delhi-based singer Sonam Kalra.
Having trained with Shubha Mudgal and Sarathi Chatterjee in Indian classical music provided a background for this fusion of western and eastern sound. This is an attempt to combine different voices of faith “through song, music and the spoken word.” Having dabbled as a media professional, a theatre actress, a voiceover artist for an international lifestyle channel and a TV anchor as well, Kalra found her true calling with music and has come a full circle saying she’s “finally home.”
Being a Sikh, Sonam’s tryst with Gospel music goes back around four to five years when she heard Amazing Grace, which drew her to pursue learning more about Gospel music. And though she had trained in Hindustani classical music since childhood, Sonam also began to study Jazz and performed Jazz and Gospel music at various churches and events. “In February 2010, I was asked to perform at the birth centenary of the Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan at the Inayat Khan dargah in Delhi. And there I was — a Sikh girl, singing Gospel music at a dargah! With this experience began the culmination of the Sufi Gospel Project as ideologically, both Sufi and Gospel music are about finding that divine connection. The premise of this initiative is that God doesn’t have a religion,” says Kalra.
Having grown up listening to a variety of singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’day to Begum Akhtar, Kishori Amonkar and Kumar Gandharva, to poems of Sufi saints and poets like Kabir, Paltu Das and Rabia Basri, have influenced Kalra’s music equally. Till date having done around 10-12 concerts, some songs that have been performed are Hallelujah and Abide With Me, infused with verses by Kabir, Rumi, Bulleh Shah along with Indian musical instruments like the sarangi, tabla and the flute.
Besides Kalra, who is the frontwoman of the Sufi Gospel Project, there are accompanying musicians like Alex Fernandes (piano), Ahsan Ali Khan (sarangi), Rajesh Prasanna (flute), Amaan Ali Khan (tabla) and Daniel Paul (guitar). The coming together of all these artists belonging to different faiths is a creative synthesis to produce soulful music. Sonam’s sound is not commercial and she steers clear of doing renditions of Duma Dum Mast Kalandar and Chap Tilak because “you can’t improvise perfection” rendered by great people. She looks forward to opportunities to collaborate with Sushmit Sen of Indian Ocean, Rajasthani folk musicians and Baul singers.
Sonam is also currently in talks to do a music album featuring the songs she has been performing at various concerts and events. Something to look forward to!

Lisa Antao.BT.

MUSIC TRAVEL – Get festival-hopping!


If music be the food of life, India is where you ought to be. The country is quickly turning into a premier destination for those looking for their next live music fix. India’s music calendar for the next couple of months is quite packed. There’s something for everyone.

 

We give you the top 9 fests to attend in India.

STORM FESTIVAL

For all the music lovers and adventure enthusiast out there, the Storm Festival is the perfect event to attend. This two-day camp-out music festival held in the hills of Coorg features 37 top notch DJ’s and bands from around the world. The festival will take place in an entirely eco-friendly manner and is expected to be specially appealing to nature lovers as it is set amidst the pristine beauty of Coorg. This event is scheduled to take place at Stormfields, Napoklu in Coorg and will be hosted by Nikhil Chinapa. Along with many celebrities and DJs, this event will have performances by DJ Richard Durand, Julie Thompson, Breed and Pearl. Indian Ocean, The Raghu Dixit Project and Lesle Lewis are few popular bands who will be performing at the festival. 

When: 11th – 12th November, 2011
Where: Coorg, Karnataka, India.

Log on to  http://www.stormfestivalindia.com/

 

THE GREAT INDIAN OCTOBER FEST

The concept of Kingfisher October Fest stemmed from a need to spread the Good Times to the teeming youth population living in the city of Bangalore. It was only after an extended period of planning that the first Kingfisher October Fest was held from 11th to 13th November, 2005, at the Palace Grounds, Bangalore. It has grown in heaps and bounds since its inception in Bangalore. Fashioned around the very premise of Woodstock ’69, with an aim to spread love, peace and music, this fest reflected another aspect. And that was, spread the good times among the numerous people who converged to the place from various parts of the country. Apart from this, a whole lot of associated events taking place all over the fest ground grabbed the attention of people attending the fest. Various beer games, a flea market, tattoo artists, face painters, doll dancers, stilt walkers etc., kept the high spirits lingering over the period of the three days, making this event a huge success. Banglore’s eclectic music scene goes back to early in the city’s history and encompasses a wide variety of music including country, folk, jazz, blues and rock. The classic problem facing Bangalore musicians today is the being isolated from the rest of the world.This year The Great Indian October Fest in association with the Kyra Theater brings to you The Sunset Strip : a special tribute to all the wonderful musicians of the city.

When: November 11th -13th 2011.

Where: Bangalore, India.

Log on to http://www.kingfisherworld.com/ 

WOODS TALK FESTIVAL

The venue for this fest is the woods of Mahadev Chatti in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand one of India’s best adventure sports locations. The first edition of the Woods Talk music festival will take place between November 12 and 13.It is a camping festival. Camping equipment is provided by the organizers and they are also going to arrange some adventure sports and outdoor activities such as kayaking, rappelling, rock climbing and many other activities. The artists who will perform there are an eclectic mix ranging from rock bands to electronica DJs.

When: November 12th and 13th, 2011.

Where: Mahadev Chatti in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand,India.

Log on to http://nh7.in/indiecision/2011/10/24/woods-talk-festival-lineup-announced/

INDIA MUSIC WEEK

Celebrate the spirit of pure music with 100 Pipers India Music week, as artists from India, Norway, Germany, USA, Switzerland, Spain, UK, Australia and even from the exotic French Reunion Island in the India Ocean perform across the most happening clubs and venues across New Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore. From big bang Jazz to hip Electronica, from intelligent Pop to strident Rock, from Ska and Dance Hall to Progressive Psy Trance, Drum & Bass and even the good ol’ blues and folk….100Pipers India Music Week straddles multiple genres to provide an all inclusive Indian contemporary urban music experience. With over 40 artists, and 40 events, spread across  New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, the 100 Pipers India Music Week does not stop at being just a Music festival. With the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi, a two day music conference is being hosted in New Delhi on the 17th and 18th of November. This conference aims at providing a much needed platform for musicians in india and their support sturctures to engage in conversation and to help build on their knowledge base. It also aims to provide networking opportunities with music professionals form india and the world. The 100 Pipers India Music week is owned, conceptualized and organized by Rock Street journal Magazine, who have been Pioneers in creating platforms for the independent Music scene in India since 1993.

When: November 16th to 20th, 2011. 

Where: New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, India.

Log on to http://www.indiamusicweek.com/

NH7 WEEKENDER 

The biggest indie music festival in the country is being held in our backyard (Pune) over the next weekend and you gotta be there to check out the immense musical talent the country is producing right now. Over 50 artists will perform including Indian indie biggies such as Raghu Dixit Project, Scribe, Goddess Gagged and Pentagram. Then there are international artists such as Imogen Heap, who is the talk of the town after her collaboration with Vishal Dadlani on the Dewarists. NH7 Weekender is promoting the ‘experience’ this year more than just the music. The fest will host a tattoo convention, a flea market that will sell organic products and a pretty massive food court. 

When: November 18 to 20, 2011.

Where: Laxmi Lawns, near Margarpatta City, Pune, India. 

Log on to www.nh7.in/weekender 

1st GUWAHATI INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL 2011.

The 1st Guwahati International Music Festival is going to be held on 2nd & 3rd December 2011 organized by Eastern Beats Music Society and NEZCC, Dimapur. Through various initiatives in different parts of Northeast Eastern Beats Music Society have successfully exploited the healing and latent power of music and other performing arts in various parts of strife-torn Northeast.

This festival will be participated by more than 30 top National and International artists – making it the biggest confluence of musicians in the North East. Top International artistes like Brendan Power (United Kingdom), Abhaya Subba, the Steam Injuns (Nepal), Pt Manilal Nag, Mayukh Hazarika, Kalpana Patowary, Guru Reuben Mashangva, Edwin Fernandes, musicians from Goa, Abiogenesis, and many others will be descending in Guwahati for this festival.

When: 2nd & 3rd December 2011. 

Where: Shilpgram, Guwahati, India. 

Log on to www.easternbeats.org

SUNBURN
It sounds really cheesy spending New Year’s in Goa, but now spending the Christmas week in the beach state is more than just chilling and having a beer. Let your hair down for Asia’s largest electronic music festival, Sunburn. The crowds have been steadily increasing over the years and last year the fest saw an attendance of over 10,000 people. Dance at Candolim this year to international biggies such as Pete Tong, Perfect Stranger, Markus Schulz, Infected Mushroom, among many others. The music will range from house to drum ‘n’ bass, so don’t go expecting any commercial tunes. The music is an acquired taste, and there is no better place to start. 

When: December 27 to 29.

Where: Candolim Beach, Goa,India. 

Log on to www.sunburn.in

BLUES FESTIVAL

The inaugural edition earlier this year saw the likes of legendary blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy, alongside artists Jonny Lang and Matt Schofield and vocalist Shemekia Copeland at Mehboob Studios.Indian acts Soulmate,The Saturday Night Blues Band and The Luke Kenny Mojo Jukeboxalso performed.Worth waiting for if you love your jazz.

When: Dates unconfirmed.

Where: Mumbai,India.

Log on to  http://www.mahindrablues.com/

 

INVASION

Invasion is a music festival that brings international,contemporary,high energy acts to India, brimming with attitude and personality.The first edition of the festival took place on January 13, 2011 in Bangalore and on January 15, 2011 in New Delhi, with The Prodigy being the highlight.Expect similar mayhem this year too.

When: March 2012.

Where: Delhi & Bangalore,India.

Log on to http://www.invasionfestival.in/.


Bhupen Hazarika: A personal tribute


Utpal Borpujari

It’s quite an irony that obituary reports in the media largely have been identifying Dr. Bhupen Hazarika as the “music maestro” and the “legendary balladeer”. He was, of course, both of these, but the kind of impact this genius has had in the socio-cultural-political space of a huge geographic region comprising the North-East India, West Bengal and Bangladesh would be hard to grasp for anyone who does not understand the Assamese and Bengali languages.

For the rest of India, Dr. Hazarika (the “Dr.” is not one of those bestowed upon cinema, cultural and political personalities by universities whose administrators are usually keen to rub shoulders with the recipients, but one had earned by completing a Ph.D from Columbia University in the early 1950s on how cultural tools can be used to spread the reach of education) is known for his fabulous music in Kalpana Lajmi’s “Rudali”, particularly that in the song “Dil Hoom Hoom Kare” (based on his 1960s composition “Buku Ham Ham Kare” from the Assamese film “Moniram Dewan”), and his song “Ganga Behti Ho Kyun” (an adaption of “Ol’ Man River” by his friend, inspiration and civil rights activist-singer Paul Robson).

But what would remain unknown to music lovers outside Assamese and Bengali-speaking communities is Dr. Hazarika’s immense capacity to write, compose and sing songs for nearly 75 years (he first sang as a 10-year-old kid in cultural doyen Jyotiprasad Agarwalla’s second film “Indramalati” in 1939, also the second Assamese film after Agarwalla’s “Joymoti” four years before that) reflecting virtually every social issue, every political development, every season, every community, every emotion of the entire North-East and its neighbourhood – not to forget his numerous songs surrounding the subject of the river Brahmaputra, his lifelong inspiration.

Whether it was the Bangladesh Liberation Struggle – the government of that country has already announced the Muktijoddha Padak, the highest civilian award there, to him posthumously, while despite a long-pending demand from the entire North-East India as well as a unanimous resolution passed by the Assam State Assembly, the Indian government could not confer the Bharat Ratna to him while he was alive – the 1962 Chinese aggression, the establishment of the Guwahati University in 1948, the carving out of the states of Meghalaya and Nagaland out of Assam, the anti-foreign infiltration movement of the early 1980s or the ULFA-induced insurgency, Dr. Hazarika has a song for everything. And each of these songs can be hummed along by any Assamese almost word to word, such evergreen classics they have been, just like probably over 95 per cent of the over 1,500 songs he wrote, composed and sung, some of them together with his highly-talented brother Jayanta Hazarika, who died young in the mid-1970s, and who too like his elder brother had become a legend by the time he was in his late 20s.

One reason why Dr. Hazarika’s songs did not travel much outside the Assamese-Bengali-speaking areas were their cultural rootedness, even though his compositions always had a universality about them (to get a sense of what I am trying to convey, please listen to his songs in Assamese and Bengali available on Youtube and many other platforms on the Internet). Even Gulzar, while translating some of his classics into Hindi for HMV (now Saregama)’s album “Main Aur Mera Saaya” had spoken about this aspect of Dr. Hazarika’s lyrics.

What would also remain outside the geographies mentioned is also the fact that Dr. Hazarika was not just a lyricist-composer-singer. He was also a filmmaker – one who in 1992 was conferred with India’s highest honour in cinema, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award – a prolific writer, a painter, an editor who for years edited a highly-popular magazine “Amaar Pratinidhi”, a politician who served one term in the Assam Assembly as a Left-leaning independent politician in the late 1960s (in contrast to his failed attempt to enter the Lok Sabha much later as a BJP candidate, which was a rare and only failure in the public arena for him, and a classic example of how an entire community rejected the political face of a legend even while never stopping to shower him with love in his avatar as a creative artiste), a children’s literature writer, a cultural ambassador (he served as the chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi), and a relentless crusader for social harmony.

What made him even more unique was his innate quality of being accessible to anyone and everyone of his fans. During his live performances in numerous open-air stages every April for over five decades all over Assam during the Rongali Bihu (the Assamese new year festival every mid-April), thousands would get into a virtual reverie listening to his songs and the conversations he would have with the crowd in between.

Personally, it was sometime in 1977-78, when as a 10-year-old, I first met Dr. Bhupen Hazarika in person, and in really close quarters. We used to stay in one half of a rented accommodation in Guwahati’s Rajgarh locality, the other half being the residence of the late Nirode Chowdhury, one of the most popular Assamese writers whose stories “Chameli Memsab” and “Banahangsa” have in the previous couple of years been made into highly-popular films with music by the maestro. Nirode Chowdhury’s house was virtually an extension of our house and as a kid I would often be found rummaging through his great collection of books. Like every Assamese would be, I too had been indoctrinated automatically into his fan club by that age, quite clearly beyond the capacity to understand the import of much of his lyrics but enthralled by the mellifluousness of his compositions. For a young kid of that age, he was “Bhupen Mama”, the name he had assumed as a writer of children’s literature, particularly some fun poems through which he had made learning the alphabet and words easier for us. Despite his literary-musical sessions with Chowdhury, he would indulge us kids, sometimes asking interesting questions, sometimes teasing us, sometimes saying something funny.

Later, in the late 1980s, as an over-enthusiastic college student, I put up some (now looking at it, very amateurish) photographs of landscapes I had shot with my automatic camera in a first-ever Kala Mela in Guwahati, which had the participation of some of the top painters and photographers of Assam. Looking back, I can clearly see that the organisers were more than encouraging to allow me to participate in that event, given the standard of my photography. But Dr. Hazarika, who came in as a special visitor to the art fair, spent quite a few minutes  praising my photography (by then, of course, he did not remember the little me he had met a decade before). Looking back, I now understand that it was his way of encouraging an enthusiastic youngster to pursue his interests. It was his style, to make everyone feel at ease and one’s own.

Later, in my avatar as a journalist and film critic, I met him many times in both Assam and Delhi, sometimes professionally and sometimes personally. Most of the time, his words would have me eat out of his hands, even as he would make me share his lunch or dinner. An eternal prankster, he even did not forget to pull my leg when I met him during one of his Delhi visits days after I had been declared as the winner of the Swarna Kamal  for the Best Film Critic at the 50th National Film Awards in 2003. “You have always been interviewing me, now get ready to be interviewed when you next visit Assam, now that you have become the first person from the North-East to win the Best Film Critic’s Award,” he joked as his long-time companion and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi and senior journalist Samudra Gupta Kashyap of the Indian Express enjoyed my discomfiture. It was during that visit that he had shared with me his plans to make a feature film with Assam’s insurgency as the backdrop. Unfortunately, soon thereafter, he started keeping unwell, and that film never got made. I am sure if it had got made, it would have been a strong rebuttal against violence and a call for survival of humanity, something he had strongly believed in and had got reflected in his song “Manuhe Manuhor Baabe, Jodihe Okono Nabhabe” (“If human beings don’t take care of the mankind, who will”).

As I write this, it is past 1 AM on the 8th of November. About 12 hours ago, his body arrived in Guwahati from Mumbai. It took his body nearly 8 hours to travel about 25 kms to his home in the Nizarapar locality, as lakhs of people thronged the route to have a glimpse of the maestro earlier in the day. Now his body lies in state in the Judge’s Field, a location where he had sung numerous times. And even at this late hour, a queue of people – comprising kids to senior citizens – several kilometres in length is slowly, and in a very remarkably disciplined manner, moving ahead for a last glimpse of the maestro before his body is cremated within the next 24 hours. As I see this in the continuous live telecast in news channels from Assam on my DTH system sitting at my home in Delhi, I can see that it is his message for humanity mainly through his music that is drawing in the multitudes.  Quite clearly, the genius of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika will live on through his songs, and in the hearts of his fans.

I don’t know if a river cries, and even if one does, I don’t know if its tears can be seen in the flowing waters. But I am sure, the Old Man River, the Brahmaputra, is today quietly shedding a tear, just as quietly it flows, having lost a genius born on its banks. Indeed, it’s not surprising that Dr. Hazarika’s last recording to come into the public domain would be a poem on the river that remained his permanent inspiration. The poem is being used as a prelude in young filmmaker Bidyut Kotoky’s under-production bilingual feature film “as the River flows…” (Hindi) / “Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xhipaare” (Assamese), being produced by the National Film Development Corporation. At a personal level, it will be an honour to share credits in a film with the legend, having been associated with it as a script consultant. What more can an eternal fan ask for!

 

Assam loses its Identity.


Legendary singer, composer Bhupen Hazarika passes away.

Legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika, who wove a magical tapestry out of traditional Assamese music and lyrics, died in Mumbai on Saturday following a prolonged illness.

“It was a multi-organ failure. The end came around 4.30 pm,” Jayanta Narayan Saha, in-charge of media relations at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai.

The 86-year-old Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner was undergoing treatment at the hospital since June 29, after he complained of breathlessness. Since then he was confined to the hospital bed.

He had an infection and was on medical support and dialysis.

Hazarika’s health deteriorated on October 23, after he developed pneumonia. He had to undergo a minor surgery whereby doctors placed a food pipe into his system. The balladeer who composed his own lyrics and music last lent his voice to the film Gandhi   To Hitler, where he sang Mahatma Gandhi’sfavourite bhajan ‘Vaishnav jan’.

Hazarika was regarded as one of the greatest living cultural communicators of South Asia. He had been a poet, journalist, singer, lyricist, musician, filmmaker and writer.      

The Padma Bhushan awardee had celebrated his birthday this year in the ICU of the hospital on September 8 when he cut a cake and fans sang his favorite numbers.

 

ELECTRIC- CITY


Electronica will be the buzzword when Bay Beat Collective, Gumnaam and Oxy7gen will groove the house at the Weekender pre- party tonight.

In its second year, the  has become one of the most sought after musical festivals of the country.

The multi- genre festival features Electronica, Rock, Metal, Folk, Singer- Songwriters and a lot more. Among the 75 odd pre- parties, which are held in different parts of the country as a lead in to the festival, the one to be held at Bonobo tonight looks all set to be an Electronica affair.

The bands that will be performing include Mumbai- based Bay Beat Collective ( BBC), which is mainly a DJ collective comprising Kris Correya ( DJ/ Producer/ Effects Tweaker), Sohail Arora ( DJ/ Producer/ Promoter) and Raffael Kably ( Sound engineer/ Gizmo Nerd); London- based Gumnaam who is riding high on Dubstep and Mumbai- based DJ Ox7gen ( Aditya Ashok), involved in quality drum and bass production.

Among these, BBC will also be seen performing at the Weekender to be held in Pune.

The pre- parties will culminate into a three- day festival to be held in Pune from November 18 to 20. The much- awaited festival will include over 50 artists, six stages and amazing musical performances. BBC will be performing at the Eristoff Wolves Den, a stage for Dance and live Electronica. “ BBC is currently leading the drum• bass scene in India, and are a fantastic live act; you can also get a preview of what to expect from their set at the Eristoff Wolves Den on November 19 in Pune,” says Vijay Nair, CEO, Only Much Louder, the festival organisers.

Adding that it is dubbed as a fun music festival, Nair says, “ The festival is about creating an experience that people will perhaps remember as the happiest festival and look forward to. That can only be created by bringing together artists from all genres, fans from across the world and bringing to life an allinclusive festival that is about the artists who play, fans who attend and the people who produce it. Like last year, we will not hesitate in bringing artists you might have not heard of, and curating performances you will never forget.” ON Tonight, 9 pm AT Bonobo, Kenilworth Mall, off Linking Road, Bandra ( West).