Monthly Archives: November 2011

OF GRIEF, LOVE AND RESPECT


A Sentinel photo by Rajib Bhattacharjee

Mur Gitor Hazar Shrota
Tumak Nomoskar
Gitor Sobhat
Tumie Tu Prodhan Alankar
Prayax Koru
Tumar Uthat Hahi Bilabole
Proyax Koru
Tumar Dukhot Xosai Kandibole

While the news of Bhupen Hazarika’s demise is yet to sink in the minds of the people, the visionary himself seemed to have visualized the impact of his songs and life on the people long back. But even the bard might not have fathomed the extent to which his songs and poems had influenced the people of Assam as lakhs and lakhs of teary-eyed people swelled on the streets of the State, in a manner never witnessed before, since early morning today to receive the body of their much loved balladeer.

Indeed, Bhupen Hazarika might have left his physical state here on earth but the fact that he will continue to live forever in the hearts and minds of every Assamese was evident in the heart-rending cries of “Bhupen Hazarika Amar Hok” (Long live Bhupen Hazarika) that was let out by the mammoth crowd that had assembled at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport to receive his body. Watching the sea of humanity –– perched atop trees, on top of trucks, bridges and jostling for space on footpaths – trying to stop their tears while screaming their maestro’s evergreen numbers in a bid to suppress their grief, provided for the creation of a poignancy that is bound to remain etched in one’s heart and mind forever.

Even as the huge crowd in the airport sobbed inconsolably as the legendary humanitarian’s coffin was brought out of Jet Airways aircraft 619, hundreds of thousands of people holding placards, photographs, wreaths and petals continued to come out on the streets of Guwahati, assembling along the 26-km long route through which the coffin was supposed to pass, so that they could pay their last tributes to a man whom they have epitomized as the torchbearer of Assamese culture and identity. As shops all over the gateway city of the Northeast downed their shutters as the body reached Dighalipukhuri paar –– where the bard had unveiled his own statue a few years back –– a teary-eyed Assam today did indeed bid adieu to their legend in a befitting manner.

As the coffin was brought out of the airport before a ceremonial guard of honour at around noon, Governor JB Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi paid floral tributes to the legend. “I am numbed and speechless,” an emotionally charged Tarun Gogoi, who is otherwise known for his witty repertoire of speech, said in front of mediapersons.

The hearse carrying the coffin, decorated with flowers, was accompanied by Kalpana Lajmi, his partner and companion for the last four decades, his family members, his nephew Mayukh Hazarika, Manisha Hazarika, State Culture Minister Pranati Phukan and Kamal Kataki. Lajmi, who had always been by the maestro’s side despite coming under scathing criticism from the people of the State on quite a few occasions, said, “I have lost my father, mentor and husband. He may have died, but his spirit would remain forever.”

The district administration had yesterday chalked out an itirenary for the hearse to follow, underlining the places where it would stop on its way to the Nizarapar residence from the airport. However, the tremendous support of the people threw the State government’s plans totally off-gear and it reached his Nizarapar residence only at around 7 pm in the evening –– much later than the government’s scheduled time of 2:30 pm.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed all along the route from the airport to the Chandmari area of Guwahati today as lakhs of people waited along both sides of the road, lighting earthen lamps and holding placards, along with photos of the maestro that were placed atop bamboo plantains.

The first major stop of the procession was at Gauhati University –– a place where Bhupen Hazarika had spent some of the most memorable events of his life. With a group of students rendering Jilikabo Luitore Par –– a song he had written on the university –– the crowd of more than 4,000 people that had gathered stood silently with tears streaming down their face as they watched life coming full circle for their legend. GU VC Akhil Kumar Medhi, GU Registrar Uttam Chandra Das, Tezpur University VC Mihir Kr Choudhury, Guwahati MLA Robin Bordoloi, Director General of Police Shankar Barua and Chief Secretary Naba Das were also present in the university.

The procession later on stopped at Garegaon, Gauripur, Adabari, Maligaon, Pandu, Kamakhya Gate, Kalipur, Santipur, Lalit Chandra Bharali College, Bhootnath, Bharalumukh, Fancy Bazar and Dighalipukhuri paar.

Once in his Nizarapar residence, the body was taken inside the balladeer’s bedroom while troupes from a neighbouring naam ghar performed gayan bayan outside the residence. The coffin was placed on his usual bed, which was shrouded in a white cloth and adorned with yellow flowers. Singing lines from the immortal Biswar Sande Sande, family members performed the requisite Hindu rites and rituals inside his bedroom, smearing the body with turmeric, even as traditional nam kirtan and prayers were performed alongside the bard’s bed.
The body was later taken to Judges Field in the city where it will be kept till tomorrow afternoon. The cremation will take place tomorrow afternoon at Gauhati University.

Written by Aiyushman Dutta and first published in The Sentinel (Nov 8, 2011)

Creating HIV awareness through ROCK

Avancer wins NSACS ‘RockAware’ campaign


Photos by Caisii Mao

If you ever want to reach out to the people of Nagaland, rock is what you are looking for. The NSACS Rock Aware Competition – a Red Ribbon Super Star Campaign to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS – came to a glittering end on October 15 last month after a long gruelling journey of music competitions spread amongst almost a hundred highly enthusiastic bands across 11 districts of the land of the erstwhile head hunters.

In an ultimate musical extravaganza, Avancer from Dimapur district was declared the winner while Tears of Judas (Tuensang) and Anti-Trust (Zunheboto) was declared the first and second runners up respectively in the grand finale. The winner of the contest walked away with Rs.1 lakh in cash and a direct entry to Hornbill National Rock Contest besides a chance to perform at the forthcoming Handshake concert at Bangkok. The runners-up bands walked away with Rs 60,000 and Rs 40,000 respectively.

Around 86 bands from all over the State had participated in the auditions held in each district in the run-up to the finale. The bands who performed in the finale after being selected in the district-wise auditions were Cadence (Kohima), Hardcore Addition (Phek), Cliffers (Kiphire), P-Brunch (Longleng), Tears of Judas (Tuensang), RASP (Mon), Maskil Praise (Peren), Avancer (Dimapur), In Da Name (Mokokchung), Anti-Trust (Zunheboto) and AOF (Wokha).

Grammy winner Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who has collaborated with Naga folk musicians in his upcoming album, also performed on the grand finale. He revealed that he has recorded an album with NSACS RockAware 2011 brand ambassador Renbeni Odyuo and NSACS Rock Reach 2010 brand ambassador Kenei Chalie.

NSACS RockAware is an initiative of NACO. The Chief Patron is the Music Task Force (YRS) Government of Nagaland while the Legislature Forum on AIDS (LFA) is the chief event partner. The event partners for the grand event were Wishing Well, Unitex INC, Crescendo, Audio Garage, Neo Vision, Rapple and Hum Music Society, XL Foundation and Dream Café.
In most of the auditions held across the State, the participating musicians and the organizers advocated the need to be aware of HIV and AIDS. In a state marred by high prevalence of this dreaded disease, the Rock Aware initiative has been widely appreciated by people from all sections of society. At the venue in each district, red ribbons were pinned to every individual who came to witness the program while IEC materials were also distributed amongst the audience.

‘Bandstand’ providing Northeast bands with much-needed platform

Bands of Northeast India have finally got the platform they had been looking for. Hit 7, a new youth entertainment channel from the region, has launched its marquee program, Bandstand, earlier this month. The program, which features independent rock acts from all the eight States of North east India, is aired every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

KARBI PAGAN PRIEST-SINGER PHUNINGDING


Bandstand, which will showcase 97 songs spread across 36 episodes, went on air this month and will continue till the middle of December this year. In the first season, the show is showcasing 10 bands from Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Sikkim. These 10 bands include North East Breeze (Assam), Rain Of Heart ( Assam), Incipit (Nagaland), Felix`s (Meghalaya), Shades Of Retribution (Assam), Warklung (Assam), Digital Suicide (Assam), X5 (Assam), Girish & The Chronicles (Sikkim) and Rectified Spirit (Assam).

Banddstand


LSD Media Co-founder Sumit Luthra said, “Bandstand aims to provide all the new as well as established bands from the 8 States of North East a dedicated television platform on which their musical talent can be showcased. While the channel as a whole is targeted at the entire youth section, Bandstand will showcase music that appeals to all ages and ranges from North East Folk Music to Western and Fusion of both.”

Speaking about the show concept and the days ahead, he said, “It has been an amazing experience to see the depth and breadth of talent in this region. It’s sad that so far there has been no dedicated platform where this talent can be displayed and the artists and musicians can reach a wider audience base. With Bandstand, we hope to provide just what’s been lacking so far. HIT 7 welcomes both new and established artists to showcase their works on various programs available on the channel.”

Digital Suicide


Bandstand was shot over a 15-day shooting schedule with a spectacular and first-of-its-kind set erected at Jyoti Chitraban, Guwahati. “The coming seasons of Bandstand will strive to be bigger in scale and showcase more bands from the North East,” Luthra informed.

North East breeze


HIT 7, the first youth entertainment channel for the North east was launched on 15th July 2011. This channel currently reaches 8 Million homes across the 8 North Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Manipu,r Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. This channel is being carried on INSAT-4A satellite and is being distributed by cable networks in all the above-mentioned states. HIT 7 is currently airing 5 Hours of original content per day consisting of youth based shows like “Juke Box”, “Walky Talky”, “Spotlight”, “ICONS”, “Timeless” and “P.O.Box-7”. In addition to the above, HIT 7 also features select collection of Local music from Assam, Mizoram and Meghalaya. In the coming months, this local content collection is set to grow considerably.

Innovative approach to spread short film culture in region

An initiative to popularise short films among the people, especially the youth of the region, has been underway for the past couple of months. The Creovaent Educational Initiative, which sees screening of short films from popular Mumbai-based film club Shamiana, has been touching different institutes of the city. While screening of films for students of Guwahati University takes place every month, a screening camp was also held at Parijat Academy last week.
The Creovaent Educational Initiative, whereby these short films are screened, took birth with the collaboration of Creovaent Productions and SHAMIANA this August 2011. The entire noble initiative has been supported by Spirit Underground.

“We are planning to expand in all the major educational institutions within this year to spread the culture of short films in North-East India. Right now we have around 50 regular members who attend our monthly screenings and apart from that we are now doing special screening at Guwahati University regularly and Parijat Academy. We hope to start our screenings in few other institutions in coming months with the support of Spirit Underground,” said Mr. Prithish Chakraborty, Founder of Guwahati International Short Film Festival & Co-owner, Creovaent Productions.

Speaking on the initiative, CNN IBN India Hero and noted social worker Uttam Teron of Parijat Academy said he felt happy to see his students getting exposed to a new area of short films. “While we fully support the initiative taken by Creovaent Productions, we are looking forward for the special workshops that Creovaent Productions will undertake with our students related to filmmaking,” he said.

The format of the screening is monthly once with the content varies with two international short films, two national short films and one local short film from North-East filmmaker. With the coming months the production house is planning to do special workshops with the students to encourage them to take filmmaking as a career.

Creovaent Productions is the brainchild of the dynamic sibling trio of Prithish, Rajnish and Puja Chakraborty hailing from the beautiful state of Assam. The term ‘Creovaent’ has been coined by Rajnish Chakraborty in the fall of 2010 combining three important words – Creativity (for CREO), Innovation (for OVA) and Entertainment (For ENT) which means “A product of creativity using innovation for the purpose of entertainment.” Thus the name ‘Creovaent’ itself showcases company’s determination to unite the three basic elements that form the building blocks of modern filmmaking viz. creativity, innovation and entertainment. Creovaent Productions in such a short span of time has made it big with its debut music video getting praised and being featured in international channel like VH1 and with its documentary ‘Mystical Grass’ & ‘Unsung Hero’, the production house is planning to enter the international filmmaking arena.

Innovative music portal launched

An innovative music portal dedicated to creating music online took birth recently. The portal, http://www.back2music.in, is spearheaded by Rrituraj Sharma and Indrajit Chetia – two passionate musicians for whom music took a back seat because of work pressure and family responsibilities. Talking about the model, Rrituraj said, “These are people who are well established in their routine careers and who will never go to a reality show to showcase their talents. This is an attempt to bring them back to music and in the process demonstrate such talents to the whole world.”

Based on a non-revenue model, the http://www.back2music.in portal was launched on September 25 last with the Assamese launch song ‘Xoloni Prithivi’. The portal founders informed that the response has been satisfactory and has received a lot of appreciation in the online community. The video for the album was shot in London and the same received as many as 2000 + hits for download in the first week of its launch. All the songs in http://www.back2music.in is available free for download.
“We have introduced a new singer, Pranab Gohain, based in Mumbai in the song ‘Xoloni Prithivi’. Written by Manas Robin, this song speaks about the fact that ‘Old times are nothing but sweet memories, it’s a Changed World today’,” said Rrituraj. Their second number is planned for a New Year 2012 release, he informed. “Written by our in-house lyricist Minakshi Gogoi from Dibrugarh and myself, this song reminisces of the Guwahati city of the 80s and 90s. The video for this song is shot in Guwahati and will show case many popular locales/joints in the city,” he said.
Talking about the operating model, the duo said that they have even recorded with people they have not met till now. “We plan to release our songs as singles, one in every 3-4 months. The benefit of this is we get enough time to ensure that every song has the best output in terms of production and is at par with industry standards. There will be an attempt to make a video with every song so that the impact of the song with the audience will be very high,” said Indrajit.

Apart from Assamese, Rrituraj and Indrajit are also working on their first Hindi launch in about a years time from now. “Our ultimate aim is to go global and work with singers and musicians across the globe with language being no bar. However all compositions will be original and from the in house stack only,” Indrajit said.

The promoters of back2music, Rrituraj Sharma and Indrajit Chetia, both hail from Assam. As a musician and composer, Rrituraj had been part of ace singer Arun Das’s band in the late nineties. Originally from Guwahati, Assam, he says his mother had been a great influence and his father a big boost to his musical journey since an early age. His work as a Consultant with a leading IT firm took him to London in 2009 where he is now currently based and works very closely over his free time, including weekends, with talented individuals across the world to showcase them through back2music. “My compositions range from the rustic touch of rural life to the contemporary feel of the urban world and echoes the very strong and emotional bond that I have with Assam,” he says. A self taught videographer, he conceptualizes, directs and edits the videos of the songs back2music composes.

His partner, Indrajit (Chetia), originally from Jorhat, Assam, is currently based in Mumbai. Guitar being his forte, he picked up the nuances of the keyboard and is now a freelance music arranger and composer, class apart. He has created a mark for himself, amidst the cut-throat competition in the Bollywood music industry, as a fine music arranger and has arranged songs for ace singers like Shaan, Udit Narayan, Javed Ali and music directors like Pritam and Justin-Uday. He now tours the country as a member of Shreya Ghosal’s live show ensemble.

First-of-sorts ‘Tablaestro’ released

A tablist from the State has set a new benchmarks of sorts when he released his solo tabla album – the first tabla album to be produced and released by a regional artist.

noted artistes releasing the album

The album, Tablaestro, was released on October 7 last at Hotel Gateway Grandeur in the city by a host of renowned artistes from the city, including Tabla maestro Pawan Bordoloi, danseuse Bipul Das, Sitarist Hem Hazarika and others.

Nabajyoti Dowerah – the man behind the album – is an engineer by profession who never misses out on a chance to give due credence to his first passion – music. The other artistes featured in the album include Naghma and Pandit Dhruva Sahay on the Sarengi. The album has been produced and marketed by Bhairovi Productions.

Nabajyoti Dowarah entered the world of music with the basic training of Tabla at the age of seven under the guidance of Sri Himen Das & Sri Manik Bora. He completed Sangeet-Visharad from Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapeeth Lucknow in 1986 with first class under the guidance of late Tabla maestro of Assam Nagen Changmai & Ustad Munne Khan of the Lucknow Gharana, and finally from legendary Guru Pandit Shankar Ghosh of Farkkabad Gharana.

Nabajyoti Dowerah


He got his Sangeet Visharad in Tabla from Lucknow Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyaith and from Sarba Bharatiya Sangeet-o-Sanskriti Parishad in West Bengal. He has accompanied many prominent national artistes in various concerts in the Northeast. The artist has completed his BE Honours in chemical Engineering in 1992 & PGD in Petroleum Technology from Dibrugarh University in 1994. He is presently working in GAIL (INDIA) Ltd. Sivsagar as manager of operations.