Monthly Archives: May 2013

Buddhi Thapa’s art exhibition in Guwahati concludes

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 Veteran artist Buddhi Thapa’s art exhibition was held in Sankardev Kalakshetra earlier this month. During the exhibition, Thapa showcased several new works in addition to some of his priceless masterpieces.

 An artist of the royal kingdom of Nepal, Thapa has participated in various Group Exhibition in India and Nepal. In a career spending more than four decades, Thapa has had his work collected in places like Lalit Kala Academy, National School of Drama, Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, India International Center, Central Production Center, Nagaland State Museum, North East Zone Cultural Centre, Eastern Air Command headquarters, Ministerial Complex of Kathmandu, B.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, Napalese Embassy, National Birendra Art Gallery of Kathmandu, Ananda Pragya (Osho) of Kathmandu and Satya Sai Baba Kendra of Kathmandu.

 Among private collections, his work has traversed to different places in the world like New York, Japan, South Korea, France, England, Washington D.C, South Vietnam, Denmark, Australia, Netherlands, Thailand, India and Nepal.

My Tears Come Out wins IndiaAfrica photography contest award

 

Assamese photojournalist Visma Kumar Thapa has been selected as one of the winners in the IndiaAfrica photography competition. Thapa’s photograph titled, My Tears Come Out, is about a small child in Assam’s Goalpara district who is seen running barefoot and with a half burnt textbook in his hand. The photograph was taken during the spurt of violence in the Rabha Hasong area recently when several schools were torched by miscreants in response to a protest call by several Rabha Hasong organizations. The Rabha Hasong violence had led to the death of 20 people and left thousands injured and homeless.

 Visma Thapa is a photojournalist based in Tura. He has been actively covering important social and political issues in Assam and Meghalaya.

 The IndiaAfrica mission is a unique project supported by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The project has been conceptualised to complement the government to government and business to business initiatives, and to bring the people of India and Africa closer and help partner shape the future of these two geographies by engaging their youth. INDIAFRICA: A Shared Future looks to engage the youth in India and Africa through contests, fellowships, collaborative projects, internships, events and cultural exchanges. The programme is multifaceted in that though it focuses on the youth, it also builds up the ecosystem amongst multiple stakeholders … institutions, organisations, think-tanks, corporates and governments.

Mayong myth captured on screen

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 For many of us in Assam, Mayong is synonymous with black magic. Villagers of this quaint village are regarded to practice black magic to cast evil spells on unknown people. Although no written proof ever existed, for the first time ever the myth is being documented on celluloid. Assamese film critic-turned-filmamker is presently trying to capture the myth through his documentary- Mayong: Myth/Reality.

 The 53-minute documentary traces the cultural and other historical elements of the area which has been widely neglected so far in spite being so rich in folklore. It will also highlight the ancient manuscripts, books and tantric images in a bid to evoke the mind of researchers or even common tourists to visit the place.

 “The irony is that most of people with whom we interacted have travelled to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, famed for its thick one-horned rhino population, more than once, without knowing that they have travelled through Mayong. So, it was very important to let them know about it,” Borpujari who is a member of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), and has served as a jury member in several leading international film festivals

 “On July 15 in 2011, the day Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 got released in India, we carried out an informal survey among about 200 youths in Guwahati whether they had heard about Mayong. I was shocked…many of them had not,” said Utpal Borpujari who is directing the documentary on the myth of Mayong, a small cluster of villages in Assam known for its Tantrik practices and legends associated with black magic.

 Besides Borpujari, a host of youngsters are involved in the mission to explore the myth visually. “This prompted us to explore Mayong visually – to explore whether all those myths about black magic in Mayong were just myths or otherwise, why despite its legendary status in Assamese folklore, the place remains largely unknown, and what locals think about their magical heritage,” he added.

 It is believed that the elements which have not been touched so far will be helpful for the research scholars. The documentary has tried to depict all these.

 The documentary is being produced by Jayanta Goswami under the banner of Darpan Cine Production while the cinematographer is Biswajeet Changmai and edited by Parveen Sharma. The music has been scored by Anuraag Saikia and the narration is by Robin Kalita.

A Boat of Dreams, Ideas and Re-imaginations

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 The Ambhibian – the uniquely designed bamboo raft conceived as part of the Cultural Re-imaginations project – finally set sail last Sunday. Being part of the small team that had got together for the final journey, I would rate it as a journey of revelations. And why not? It was indeed a journey in the truest sense of the term – a journey which introduced and reacquainted us with our environment and cultural heritage, helping us express our own personal journeys in life and also think about the manner in which they intersect with the larger picture.

 The final journey on the Amphibian, which set sail from Uzanbazar ghat, was the second phase of the Cultural Re-imaginations project as conceived by US-based artist, architect Indrani Barua. In the first phase, she and her assembled team of artisans, writers, artists and creative professionals from various fields had got together with bamboo artisans and started the process of creating a new sustainable habitat that was to be the core of the entire open-ended project. Needless to say, the entire process was ambiguous as there was no final destination in mind yet there was a kind of symmetry in everybody’s functioning as they were all following the natural course of their environment.

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 Talking about the project, Indrani says, “Cultural Re-imaginations is a series of cultural interventions conceived as an ongoing experiment in challenging the traditional boundaries between art and architecture, artist and artisan, crafts and arts and towards developing a new, critically engaged hybrid practice that integrates cultural history, architectural traditions and current environmental concerns of the northeast India and beyond, along with creating provocative art that leads to unanticipated interdisciplinary convergence. A floating-habitable raft (Ambhibian) has been developed inspired by the sustainable principles of the itinerant vernacular bamboo rafts (melengs) used in this region on the river Brahmaputra. This new experimental raft has been conceptualized as a ‘social sculpture’ and as a potential ‘sustainable habitat’ that can be anchored like a boat or a ferry.”

  The construction of the raft structure involved collaborative work between bamboo artisans, boat-builders, raft workers and artists over a period of 2 and a half months.

 The raft structure and the performative journeys that began on the Brahmaputra on April 21, 2013 from the Uzaan Baazar ghat to Sualkuchi became ‘an arena’ for impromptu cultural exchanges by performers onboard blurring the boundaries between art and life. Around 35 artists, artisans, architects, folklorists, designers, filmmakers from diverse backgrounds converged on the raft during the journey engaging in performances that ranged from storytelling, dance, music to conversations around social, cultural and environmental issues – in the process creating personal narratives and re-imaginations.

 The performers on board the journey included, besides myself, bamboo craftsperson Alak Bharali, architect Bhaskar Barua, bamboo artisan Biplab Goswami, visual artist Buddhi Thapa, installation artist and folklorist Dilip Tamuly, photojournalist Dhruba Jyoti Dutta, Indrani Baruah, bhot-bhoti driver Manoj Das, environmental activist Masfique Hazarika, journalist and musician Peter Alex Todd, architect Ranel Das, journalist Urmila Bhattacharjee (journalist), folk musician Sanjiv Deori, movement artist Shilpika Bordoloi, media practitioner Sonal Jain, designer and typo-graphist Uday Kumar and visiting/guest fiction writer and art critic from IFA, Moushumi Kandali.

 Indrani further adds, “Conceptualizing the bamboo raft and the collective cultural journey is my personal micro-narrative – trying to create a relative truth that defines the ‘spirit of this place’. My ‘intimate’ perception and imagination of Guwahati and the Northeastern region is closely tied to the ‘invocation’ of the river and the journeys. The river and the journeys are the most ‘imageable’ cultural icons that speak to my imagination and represent an idea that defines the ‘spirit of this place’.”

 As of now, Amphibian is resting on the Uzanbazar ghat, waiting for another soul to come, create and re-imagine his or her own personal narrative.

Assamese musicians nominated for Rolling Stone awards

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Three Assamese musicians have been nominated for this year’s edition of the prestigious Rolling Stone Metal Awards. The list of nominees from Assam includes Nishant Hagjer (drummer of Rectified Spirit), Rainjong Lepcha (vocalist of Rectified Spirit) and Himangshu Bora (bassist of Rectified Spirit).

Son of well-know harmonica player Bb Hagjer, Nishant is already a well-known name in the independent music circles of the country. A student of Hindu College under Delhi University, Nishant is presently playing for two well known bands of the country – Undying Inc and Punkh. Rainjong Lepcha, another well-known musician of the country, started off as the vocalist of Dark Horizon and is presently a full time musician.

This is the fourth edition of the Rolling Stone Metal Awards – the first and only awards show honoring the best in Indian metal. Votings for the public choice categories are open till June 20th. The awards will be finally declared at Blue Frog, Mumbai on June 23rs.

Script of Oronyot Boroxun released in book format

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 It was back in 2004. Avid cinematographer and nature lover Mrinal Kanti Das was on his way for scouting shooting locations and making a field study for his début film as director of ‘Oronyat Boroxun’. The Rain Forest Conservation movement (Jaypur) led by environment activist organization Nature’s Beacon was the inspiration for Mrinal Kanti Das debut venture as director. A national award winner for best cinematography in 1997, Mrinal Kanti Das, however, could never complete the film as he was killed in an unfortunate road accident on the way back home.

 Talking about the project, his wife Rubee Das says, “’Oronyat Boroxun’ (Rain in the Forest) was Mrinal Kanti Das’s most cherished project. The story revolved around the rain forest, an activist group’s constant efforts to preserve its flora and fauna and an adverse political situation to fight with. Along with it was the saga of an individual’s journey of life to a higher level of existence beyond personal sufferings.”

 Although the film was never made, what late Das has conceived still has a lot of relevance in today’s times. As such, Rubee Das recently released the script of ‘Oronyat Boroxun’ in book format. “The idea behind publishing the book was to preserve the script and to rejuvenate the idea of discussing a film script in literary and academic purposes. Four special write ups have been included in the book to highlight Das’s deep commitment for nature,” says Rubee.

 The book was recently released in Guwahati Press club by eminent writer, film critic Apurba Sarma amidst the presence of noted filmmakers like Goutam Borah, Sanjib Sabhapandit, Sanjib Hazarika, film critic Manoj Borpujar and cultural activist Nayan Prasad.

 A holder in diploma of motion picture photography from FTII, Mrinal Kanti Das won the National Award for Best Cinematography in 1997 for his sensitive portrayal of nature and images in ‘Raag Biraag’ and ‘Adajya’. Although he got numerous opportunities to work in Mumbai and other places, he decided to stay back in Assam and make meaningful films in his home State. Despite his short span on earth, late Das’s sensitive handling of the camera and his sensitivity towards issues has made him a household name in the film fraternity of the country.

Sneak preview of Ragamaya Sessions released

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Assamese singer Dhriti Deori recently released the song ‘Mone namane’ with a simple music video on the internet. The song and video is from his upcoming album ‘Ragamaya Sessions’ was released as a preview. The album, which will have a total of eight tracks, has been recorded in a number of places like Shillong, Guwahati and Himachal.

 Talking about the album, Dhriti, who is an avid traveller and owner of a travel expedition group, said, “We have recorded and shot the album in a number of places. Besides using local musicians from the place, we have also used a number of traditional instruments as well as ones from outside the country. Some of the instruments we have used are the Serja (Bodo stringed instrument), ukulele, khasi dotora, as well as some Tibetan instruments.”

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The album, as such, will be a highly interesting one and given the diverse range of musicians and instruments used, offer a beautiful peek into different exotic cultures of the country, and especially the Northeast. Dhriti’s first album, Mon Akax, was very well received in music circles both in the region and outside. The album has a number of videos shot in beautiful locales, including one in the relatively unexplored valleys of Mizoram.

 The song, Mone Namane, has been conceptualized, sung and penned by Dhriti himself. The video for the song has been shot in the riverine island of Majuli. The accompanying musicians in the song are Shrutiman Deori on acoustic guitars, Roon Buragohain on electric guitar, David Ordeo on Bass guitar, Rishi Bora and Simanta Choudhury. The recording has been done by RIshi Bora who has also played the organ and provided the backing vocals. The camera has been handled by Nitin Pegu while the editing has been donw by Sandeep Chatterjee and Liza Pegu.

 Dhriti’s music is deeply rooted in the Indian culture’s vibrancy and kaleidoscopic variety. His music is a sweet blend of lounge, Indian Classical with elements of folk from northeast India. Born into a musical family, he has been musically inclined since a very tender age and sharp at understanding the nuances of the various forms of folk and contemporary music. Dhriti’s musical training in Indian Classical started at the age of 10 and after getting a strong foundation he went on further to give a professional touch to his musical skills and did his Audio Engineering Degree from SAE, Chennai. He has a deep love for the folk music of North-East India. Nature he believes is his inspiration.

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 Given the success of his debut album, the reason for Dhriti to launch his second album online is intriguing. Talking about the same, he said, “Given the changing market dynamics, it is no longer feasible to have just physical copies of an album. While I will of course have physical sales, it will be limited and just for family members and close friends.” He further said, “The present spate of the market is very confusing as nobody buys physical copies from the music and nobody likes to pay for audio downloads. I am presently toying with the idea of making the album available on my website for free download and then request people for donations for the musician.”

 Dhriti’s upcoming album surely holds a lot of promise and we look forward to hearing the same very soon. Here’s wishing him the very best.

Nagaland Governor releases first comprehensive anthology on Northeastern food culture

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In a major boost to further exploration and debates on the food culture of the different tribes and communities of Northeast India, Nagaland Governor His Excellency Shri Ashwani Kumar today formally released ‘Food Trail: Discovering Food Culture of Northeast India’ – a first-of-its-kind anthology on food culture of Northeast India in the presence of a host of scholars, writers and distinguished personalities from various walks of life. The book, which has been conceived, primarily researched and compiled by writer Aiyushman Dutta, features a host of prominent voices from the region as also from different parts of the world. ‘Food Trail’ has been published by NEZCC, under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

 Releasing the book, Shri Ashwani Kumar said, “This unique book has helped me understand and appreciate the diverse aspects of Northeast Indian culture from a totally new perspective. I urge everyone to buy this book and gift it to your near and dear ones.”

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Distinguished anthropologist and Tagore National Fellow Prof AC Bhagawati, who has written the foreword of the book, termed the book as a novel and path-breaking venture. “Food Trail is a highly unusual book and a first-of-its-kind. Food culture is a huge subject and it is surprising very little has been done in this regard. NEZCC deserves praise for supporting such an innovative endeavour.”

 A first-of-its-kind anthology, Food Trail: Discovering the Food Culture of Northeast India offers a peek into the life and culture of the people here through the prism of their food. Containing perspectives on subjects as varied as anthropology, sociology and literature, this book is a comprehensive database for those seeking to know about the social and symbolic role of food in Northeast India. Besides featuring narratives by some of the most respected voices of the region, the high quality aesthetic photographs provides for a visual delight.

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 Food Trail includes more than 30 insightful narratives by prominent Northeast Indian writers and researchers, including Prof Temsula Ao (Padmashree awardee), Easterine Kire, Kula Saikia, Anjum Hassan, Jahnavi Barua, Janice Pariat, Susan Waten, Dr Rabindra Teron, Dharam Singh Teron, Meenakshi Borkotoki, Cherrie L Changte, Jyoti Das, Karunamay Sinha, Bhaskar Phukan, Lalthansangi Ralte and many more.

 NEZCC director Som Kamei said that the book was published in an effort of the centre to develop the cuisine industry of the region. He said, “Food is an integral part of every human culture. The importance of food in understanding human culture lies in its infinite variability – a variability that is not essential for species survival. For survival needs, people everywhere could eat the same and simple food. But human culture, over the ages, has been experimenting, innovating and developing sophisticated cuisines, which reflect human knowledge, culture, art and which have become an expression of love.”

Congratulating Dutta for his untiring endeavour to popularise the exquisite cuisines of Northeast India, Kamei said that the NEZCC had undertaken the task to not only popularise the cuisines of the region but also to document the various cultural milieu in which these cuisines have developed to become what it is today. “We hope that these rich collections of essays from experts and researchers will generate interest in the cuisine of the region and in the process, spark the potential cuisine industry and help in the overall development of cultural industries in Northeast India.”

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Talking about the genesis of the book, Dutta said, “Most people in the world still relate food with general dietary habits and practices while the fact remains that food touches every facet of human life. The diversity of food as a subject can be gauged from the numerous and varied ways in which it affects people all across the globe – be it through nutrition, environment, economics, society, et al. Although, in recent years, a lot of interest can be noticed in the realm of food studies across the world, very little has been done on this subject in the country, barring of course a few well-documented essays and articles.”

He further said, “Given the huge expanse of food studies as a subject, ‘Food Trail’ can be described as an amateurish effort have a first-of-its-kind birds eye view of the social and symbolic role of food in shaping the life and culture of the people of Northeast and in determining their identity. But nonetheless, it is a beginning and I hope that that the well-researched articles are able to create renewed enthusiasm in the subject. I also hope that the government and agencies concerned realise the potential of the subject and support further documentation and study on the food practices of the region.”

In the open discussion that ensued, Padmashree awardee Prof Temsula Ao said that food is not only an unifier but also a divider. She dwelt on how Northeasterners were not allowed to take up houses on rent for cooking smelly food.

 Also present in the gathering were Assamese cuisine expert Jyoti Das, Padmashree awardee Sentila Yanger, Music Task Force director Gugs Chihsi, Dr Ayangla Longkumer, amongst others. The event was conducted by popular Naga writer and columnist Susan Waten.

Sufi singer Chitralee Goswami mesmerises Keralite music lovers

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 A Sufi concert by noted Assamese Sufi singer Chitralee Goswami from Mumbai was held in Kozikode last week at the Calicut Co- Operative Urban Bank Auditorium. The concert was organised as the part of anniversary celebrations of Sai Organisation, Chalppuram, Calicut.

 During Chitralee’s maiden performance in Kerala, which continued for almost one and half hours, Goswami presented two of Amir Khusro’s legendary numbers and one of her own recent compositions ‘Dum Ali Dum’. During the presentation, Goswami translated many of the Urdu words to English and Hindi for ease of understanding of the South Indian audience. “Her music transmitted us to a higher world of divine ecstasy where we experienced supreme bliss,” said Ashok Kumar, General Manager, Tata Coffee who had come down from Chennai for the programme.

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The concert was preceded by a public meeting where Mr. Ali Akbar, the noted film Director from Chennai was the Chief Guest and Mr. Krishnadas Erady and Haridas Erady, the prominent Bhajan Singers were invited speakers in the function. The program coordinators  P P Bhaskaran, P Vinod, Unnikrishnan, P T Sunil Kumar and

Anandan, the office bearers of Sai Organisation expressed their deep satisfaction at the success of the celebration and were in great praise of Goswami’s lucid presentation and memorable performance.

 It is noteworthy that Chitralee Goswami of Assam who lives in Mumbai has made her mark as a Sufi singer. Apart from eastern, western and northern parts of the country, she is invited on a regular basis for live concerts in places like, Mysore, Bangalore, Chennai, Srirangapattan, Vijaywada. Her performance in Kerala has met with appreciate reviews in the Southern press and media.

 A leading female vocalist of the country, Chitralee is an acclaimed stage performer and a vocalist of the National Radio and Television. At the initiative of her late parents, Prabhat Narayan Goswami and Biva Goswami, she was exposed at a very young age to lot of folk music (lokgeets), bhajans, Ravindra Sangeet as well as borgeets which she started performing right from the tender age of 8. She received talim for advanced khayal & ghazal gayaki from internationally renowned music director and Commonwealth award winner Guru Pandit Rakesh Kumar Sharma of New Delhi.

 A trained classical performing artist, she later veered into semi-classical and light forms of Hindustani as well as Karnatic music. Besides music, she has also achieved a number of milestones in her professional life. “I live music,” says Chitralee who is a Cost Accountant, Post Graduate in Finance, Batchelor of Law, Master of Music and a Doctoral Scholar in Economics. She has served some of the premier Institutions of the country in responsible positions such as Deputy Registrar and Head – Finance, Head-Internal Audit & Head-Academic Affairs of Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati), Head- Corporate Communication, North East for ONGC, Finance Controller of AMTRON, Deputy General Manager, Finance at Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd & Visiting Faculty to Guru Goving Singh Indra Prastha University, New Delhi.

A perfectionist in all her endeavours, she is presently serving ONGC’s Western Offshore Basin at Mumbai.

Handshake concert travels to Indonesia this year

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The fifth edition of the Handshake concert will be held in Indonesia. The organizers, Rattle&Hum Music Society, informed that they will be partnering with Gedung Kesenian, Jakarta,  historically known as Schouwburg Weltevreden, a concert hall in Jakarta which was built during the Dutch colonial period, to host the fifth edition of the ‘Handshake Concert 2013’ on June 19 next.

R&HMS president Theja Meru said that this year’s concert will be held as a part of the larger Jakarta Festival, an annual event in Indonesia organized by the Gedung Kesenian society. “The whole idea is to promote Naga culture and artists from local to global arena. The world is our stage, we want to promote and show case Nagaland to the world”, he said.

Around 25 artistes from India and Nagaland have been lined up for this edition of the Handshake concert. The performing troupe will include, besides others, Grammy award winner and patron of R&HMS Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Nagaland Chamber Choir (TNCC), Alobo Naga & The Band, Renbeni Odyuo, Zowie Madrigal, Naro Pienyü amongst others. “The performing artistes were selected on the basis of their achievements and contributions to Naga music,” Meru said. The team will be led by Khriehu Liezietsü, MLA & Advisor NRE, Music Task Force and chairman DPDB, Kohima district.

Ate Kevichusa, who was the producer for Channel V, will be the key coordinator and producer for the 2013, Handshake Concert in Jakarta.

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This is the second international edition of the Handshake concert. The first international event was held in Bangkok last year. The handshake concert started in Guwahati as the World Music Festival in Guwahati on June 21, 2008.Following the successful turn of event, the idea of organizing such an event, as Handshake Concert was coined by members of the society to celebrate culture and promote goodwill and universal friendship through music with the theme— “One handshake at a time”. The concert has till now travelled to Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Bangkok.