Hornbill International Music Festival puts Nagaland on global music map
Curtains fell down on India’s biggest rock competition in Kohima on December 10 as Kolkata-based rockers ‘Underground Authority’ were adjudged the winners of the Hornbill International Rock competition. The alternative rap rockers from Kolkata outshone the best of the best of 150 bands that entered the competition to walk home with the winners prize bouquet of Rs 1 million – the largest prize money for any rock competition in India – and a host of other gifts and packages.
The spectacular finale of the rock competition at the Solitary Park in Kohima saw the Nagaland Government’s Music Task Force – organizers of the competition – dole out prize money totalling up to a whooping Rs. 17.2 lakhs besides other gift items. ‘We The Giants’ from Nagaland and ‘The F16s’ from Chennai were placed first and second runners up. Both bands went home Rs.3.5 lakhs and Rs.2.5 lakhs richer respectively.
The Hornbill rock competition, an integral part of the annual Hornbill festival, had evolved from a local beat contest about ten years back to a national level contest from 2008. This year the festival was launched globally under the title of Hornbill International Music Festival. Bands from USA, UK, UAE and other countries had taken part in the music festival this year. Herein it is imperative to state that Nagaland is the only State in the country to have a special government cell, Music Task Force, for promotion of music.
The rock competition is part of the Music Task Force’s Hornbill International music festival which continues for the entire duration of the Hornbill festival. “Besides the completion, other events in the music festival included a special performance of Biuret Band, Republic of Korea to commemorate the achieving musicians of Nagaland, performance by Semper Souls (USA), a country and blues concert besides a choral music competition. The Hornbill music festival also saw the staging of the Queen musical play, ‘We will rock you’, directed by Ate Kevichusa,” Gugs Chishi, Director of Music Task Force, Nagaland Government informed.
The Hornbill International rock competition marked the conclusion of the 10-day Hornbill cultural extravaganza. According to Nagaland Chief Minister Nephiu Rio, the State witnessed an inflow of more than 1.6 lakhs tourists during the ten-day carnival. The rock competition also saw prizes being awarded in the individual category. While S. Serivasagar (Underground Authority) won the Best Vocalist, the Best Bass Guitarist award went to Aren Longkumer (Infuse, Nagaland). Best Bassist went to Soumyadeep Batthacharya (Underground Authority), Best Drummer prize was awarded to Sourish Kumar (Underground Authority) and Best Keyboardist was awarded to Harshan Radhakhrishnan (F16s). All the individual winners were awarded Rs.30,000 each. Besides the prize money, sponsored gifts were also given to the winners. True School of Music, Mumbai also sponsored various special category prizes worth Rs. 30 lakhs.
Popular Naga band and winners of MTV Rock On, Divine Connection, made a special appearance at the show on Tuesday. The Hornbill International Rock contest was divided into two segments: the first part involved submission of compositions by rock outfits of the country. The second segment saw the selected bands battling it out for three days of competition at the venue. As many as 150 bands had applied for the competition and after gruelling rounds of auditions, nine bands were selected for the grand finale.
Making the entire State of Assam and Northeast proud, Mumbai-based Assamese singer Chitralee Goswami recently gave a scintillating Sufi performance during the prestigious India International Trade Fair which concluded last week. The concert, held at Lal Chowk Theatre in Pragati Maidan, left the audience spellbound and also marked the emergence of a new Sufi sensation.
On the 24th of last month, the Lal Chowk open theatre gallery was jam packed from afternoon itself to listen to new sensation from Assamese who has managed to carve a place among the very few Sufi singers of the country.
Chitralee’s 3-hour long performance, which received an overwhelming response from the audience, included a number of original Sufi compositions of her Guru Pandit Rakesh Sharma of Dill Gosain Gharana. Chitralee in her renditions included lyrics of Baba Farid and Bulle Shah besides, her own composition “Dum Ali Dum-Uski Khudai” and Amir Khusro’s compositions.
Earlier in an interview, Chitralee mentioned that besides pursuing traditional and contemporary Sufi music prevalent in various part of the country, she also took inspiration from Assam’s traditional music Jikir, Jari and Tokari Geet from her childhood which have a Sufi element both in lyrics, renditions & philosophy.
Chitralee Goswami, over the last couple of years, 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.
(Published in The Sentinel (Symphony) on December 7, 2013)
Well-know economist and writer Gautam Prasad Baroowah recently released his new book, Be a Millionaire, at the Guwahati Press Club. The press meet was attended by a number of well-known writers, officials, bankers and corporate personalities.
Be a Millionaire is a book on empowerment for planning personal finance, especially for Indian middle class with a stress on the investors from North East, the publishers informed.
“Nobody can live decently without making provisions for food, shelter, and cloth. For human beings to provide for above provisions, wealth creation is necessary. Even monks need money for sustenance. The great prophet like Swami Vivekananda once said that no proper worship would be possible with empty stomach. People nowadays enjoy a much longer life than before,” the website for the book states.
According to Baroowah, this necessitated the emergence of Personal Finance for security of family members, for continued better health, and for better livelihood.
“This book attempts to make our young citizens much more investment savvy. It is not an effort for spoon-feeding. This would ultimately inspire one to be a millionaire. This is not just a copy book or handbook of notes that would make investors a millionaire automatically,” he said.
The essays of the book would only empower the mind and inspire one to take his/her decisions honestly and truthfully.
Gautam Prasad Baroowah is a business economist and a human resource management expert. Baroowah was the corporate vice president of Williamson Magor and Banking Ombudsman of RBI besides being in board of many companies.
An award-winning writer, he now writes regular columns and author’s books.
(Published in The Sentinel (Symphony) on December 7, 2013)
Forum of e-Creative practitioners seeks new global cultural connections in NE
The 3rd flexhibition of the 2013 series which is hung at The Research & Innovation Ashram (The RIA), in Rukmini Nagar, Guwahati, displays a composited single visual artwork by young Diya Sarker, a multimedia artist based in Mumbai, where she lives with her two cats. Her flexhibition began on October 23 last and will continue for two weeks.
Flexhibition is a totally new and unique concept that was started in the RIA from this year. Flexhibition typically displays a single artist’s work as a single large flex-print facing a public road for about two weeks at a time.
Diya Sarker herself hails from an army family that has seen her live in different parts of India, and travel extensively around the country, through her childhood and adolescence. Her work spans illustration, design, photography, and video, usually using her cats, friends, and localities as subjects. She last presented her independent art work at The 8th annual Carnival of e-Creativity (2013), in Uttarakhand, and, otherwise consults as an Art Director at a major advertising agency in Mumbai.
The unique concept for bringing arts into direct contact with the general public has been variously received by the people of Guwahati thus far, with many people in the immediate neighbourhood of The RIA still completely mystified by it all, says RIA Managing Trustee Shankar Barua. He adds, “Though people are mostly surprised, At the same time, there have been positive responses from many citizens, including some sections of the local visual arts community, which means, one may therefore hope to soon see the works of local artists appearing as future flexhibitions. Traditional visual media will also soon make an appearance, with a flexhibition of charcoal-drawings by a Delhi artist expected to go up soon.”
The RIA is a part of the Academy of Electronic Arts (AeA) of which Barua is the Managing Trustee. The Academy of Electronic Arts is a learning, sharing, mentoring, networking, benchmarking and empowering institution that evolves continuously to inclusively address *all* e-Creative Practices & Practitioners, whether already existing or as yet inconceivable, whether professional or not, and whether formally recognized as Art forms and Artists or not so, on a public-benefit basis into the future.
Barua says, “Our various works coalesce and deploy years of independent cutting-edge practice, networking and development of a variety of e-Creative practices, e-Creative entities, and also allied fields of human endeavour globally, in the bodies of our Advisory Council, our Board of Trustees, our pirmary associates, and also the innumerable other e-Creative Practitioners and associated individuals and organizations whom we continually engage with on individual projects, and also on ongoing relationship bases, all over the world.”
Earlier in the year, the AeA had sought to open up a parallel track of cultural diplomacy between North East India and South Korea, by programming a small but very significant delegation from that country through an exploratory 10-day working-visit to Guwahati (capital of Assam), and Shillong (capital of Meghalaya). The event was programmed through the RIA.
The delegation was led by Ms. Nathalie Boseul Shin, who is counted amongst the top arts & culture curators of her country today. Mr. Hojun Song, whose latest well-known ‘artwork’ eventually added up to his recently becoming the first person to send a Personal Satellite into orbit, represented the contemporary cutting-edge of South Korean media arts. Mr. Boseong Lee, assistant-curator with Total Museum of Contemporary Arts, Seoul, contributed additional inputs and also rounded off the delegation as rapporteur.
The AeA itself was represented by Shankar Barua (Managing Trustee), and Shazeb Shaikh (Executive Trustee).
Working to a tight schedule, the delegation spent time meeting individuals, institutions, and government, in both Guwahati and Shillong, looking to discover, and to hopefully also open up, new avenues for a deeper cultural engagement between South Korea and North East India, into the future.
Barua says, “The visit will hopefully be just the first of many international cultural connections that the The AeA ill bring to the NE, into the future, from the wonderful global network we have built up over the years, out of our bases in Delhi and Uttarakhand. And, as such, it will hopefully also mark just the beginning of our now being based in the NE too, with our new Research & Innovation Ashram in Guwahati.”
Three maestros of the Indian music world launched the first album of Assamese Durga stutis in Mumbai recently. The chief guest Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota launched the devotional album, Invocation of Ma, by Assamese mother-daughter violinist duo Minoti Khaund and Sunita Khaund Bhuyan at the Spandan Foundation Durga Puja celebrations in Powai.
The guests of honour were Grammy award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and the singer with the golden voice Hariharan, all of them resplendent on stage with the Assamese silk seleng sadors. The highlight of the evening was a performance by the mother-daughter duo and singer Sanjeeta Khaund and veteran tabla player Pradeep Ghosh.
The icing on the cake during the launch ceremony was a rendition of two special Bengali songs by Anup Jalota ending with his super hit Bhajan “Aisi Laagi Lagan” that brought the house down with everyone singing together. Mamoni Kalita, an Assamese musician in Mumbai, said, “It was truly an iconic moment for Assamese artists when three such great maestros attended an event on the same stage for an album release and violin performance. It showed the respect and regard that the maestros had for Ma Durga and their appreciation for Minoti and Sunita’s music.”
The album “Invocation of Ma” was produced keeping in mind the theme of “Ma Shakti” which the goddess Durga signifies and is composed in Raag Durga. The album was produced for the Durga Puja celebrations of Spandan foundation in Powai whose theme this year is girl child and women empowerment.
Talking about the album, Sunita says, “The music performed during Durga Puja before the Goddess Ma Durga is basically to invoke the strength and the energy of Ma Shakti for good over evil. The album has two original stutis in Assamese and Bengali written and composed by Minoti and sung by me and Sanjeeta Khaund. This is followed by a rendition of Raag Durga in Hindustani classical style by me and my mother on the violin.”
Minoti and Sunita shall carry the same performance to Sri Lanka and Singapore for their performances on the theme of Ma shakti to support women’s empowerment.
(Photo courtesy: Visma K Thapa, Additional Information: Saidul Khan)
The much awaited 36th hundred drums Wangala festival 2013 will kick start on November 7th this year. The annual colourful Wangala dance festival of the Garos will be held at Asananggre, 18 kms from Tura in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills.
Preparation for the festival is going on in full-swing. Members of the organizing committee informed that the three day festival will see participation of 60 tour operators both national and international. Tourists from UK, Ireland, China, Thailand and Korea have registered to participate in the mega cultural event.
Editor Achik Songbad Dr Alva B Sangma is handling the publicity and promotion for the event as its Convenor. Dr. Sangma said, “Tour operators from various countries have been sponsored by Meghalaya Tourism to participate in the three day festival,” adding “The operators will promote Wangala festival internationally”.
“This is for the first time that the tourism department of Meghalaya has taken the initiative to invite such huge contingents of tour operators. We are making all possible effort to woo the operators to brand Wangala globally”, said Dr. Sangma.
The festival is being organised by 100 Drums Wangala Festival Committee. The special attraction for this years’ event will be SBI Master Chef competition, wherein participants will be cooking on the spot indigenous Garo cuisines.
The Wangala is the most significant post harvest festival of the Garos. It is a “Thanksgiving” ceremony to Misi Saljong, also known as Pattigipa Ra’rongipa (The Great Giver) for having blessed the human beings with rich harvest of the season.
It also gives an opportunity for the hardworking Garo people a moment to take a break from their routine work and spend time in merriment. The dance festival popularly called as the ‘100 drums festival’ is organised to showcase the rich and vibrant culture of the Garos’. This also gives the message to protect, preserve and to learn the dying culture.
Though most of the participating teams in this event are Christians, a few teams represent the Songsarek (the non Christian). The celebration starts with Rugala ceremony – a ritual performed by the Nokma (village chief). As legend goes the Nokma offers the first hand special rice beer along with cooked rice and vegetables to Misi Saljong.
However, the actual celebration takes places with Chachat so·a ceremony, the burning of incense at the central pillar of the Nokma’s house, performed by the Nokma. This is followed with the dance.
All these rituals are well portrayed in the festival.
Prof A.J. Sebastian, Head of the Department of English, Nagaland University earlier this month released the second edition of Monsoon Mourning, the second poetry collection of veteran Naga journalist and poet Monalisa Chankija. The release function which was held at NEZCC hall in Dimapur was widely attended by a diverse spectrum of people comprising well known litterateurs, writers and journalists.
Monalisa Chankija had written two volumes of poetry, ‘Weapons of Words of Pages of Pain’, and ‘Monsoon Mourning’ in 1993 and 2007 respectively. While both were highly popular, the second edition of Monsoon Mourning had to be brought out this year based on popular demand as the earlier stocks had run out. The new edition has been published by the Heritage Publishing House, one of the premier publishing houses of the region.
Monalisa Chankija is a noted journalist, poet and writer who is also the editor of Nagaland Page. She is slated to receive the 2013 Governor’s Award for her pioneering work in Nagaland early next year.
Monalisa collection of poetry will become part of the NEZCC’s collection of art and culture works from the region for its silver jubilee celebration. “This collection of poems talks of the courage of women, of survival in an insurgency-prone area. They reflect longings, unfulfilled promises and hope for the future,” said Som Kamei, Director of the NEZCC.
Presenting a reflective and explanatory review of the collection titled ‘Monsoon Mourning’, Professor A.J. Sebastian, said, “The poems are a window to some of the contemporary social concerns prevalent in the Naga society which call for concerted effort from all quarters. She has been very articulate in expressing her anguish which will certainly have their due share of influence on society ushering in societal transformation in the midst of social woes.”
Monalisa Changkija’s poems have been introduced in courses run by the Nagaland University, the North East Hills University as well as by the Nagaland Board of School Education. To facilitate the increasing number of Naga and non-Naga students, particularly young women studying Changkija’s poems academically and in-depth, lengthy reprints and analyses have been included in the second reprint of Monsoon Mourning.
Sony releases India’s first for-the-road album featuring eminent singers and musicians
Music giant Sony recently released multi-talent Mumbai-based Assamese singer and composer Ajay Singha’s music album and video, In Rahon Mein. The album features seven vocal numbers sung by famous singers like Meyang Chang, Sriram Iyer, Ash King, Raman Mahadevan, amongst others. Touted as India’s first on-the-road album, In Rahon Mein, within a short period of time has earned acclaim from critics and veterans in the industry.
Based on the recurrent theme of journeys, In Rahon Mein primarily has an acoustic sound. Each song has a different emotional journey, a marked difference from the usual romantic or dance numbers that we get to hear. The USP of the album is the intricate orchestration of each number with multiple instruments and each coming out with its unique sound and blending with the vocals.
Besides Ajay Singha, who is popularly known as Miko in the music circles, In Rahon Mein also features many other well known Assamese artistes like Kalyan Barua on melodica, Ambar Das on drums, Akashdeep Gogoi on bass guitar, Sunita Bhuyan on violins and Krishna on guitars.
A combination of different musical genres, the album has been designed in such a way so as to provide the perfect ambience while driving or in a relaxed environment. Apart from semi-classical, pahadi folk to rock fusion, In Rahon Mein also explores with genres like country, Sufi, pop rock and funk and jazz fusion.
The launch of the album was a high profile one as a number of well known musicians and singers came out in huge numbers to attend the event. Eminent singer Kailash Kher gave a fitting tribute to the album and the singer by terming him “a rare combination of multi faceted talent and human sensibilities”.
The album listening season also saw the screening of the video of In Rahon Mein. The video features popular TV personality Ruslan Mumtaz. The evening also saw performances by Chang, Ajay Singha, Sriram Iyer, Raman Mahadevan, Mohit Pathak and Trisca Fernandez.
Born and brought up in Guwahati, Miko moved to Bombay 12 years back to pursue his passion for music. “Though I have been primarily working in the TV and advertising world, In Rahon Mein is a labour of love and realization of a dream which was born after my last work with Papon, Ik Sapney Mein, a year back,” he says. Ik Sapno Mein, which was composed for Star Plus telefilms Teri Meri Love Stories, had also been widely welcomed and appreciated by listeners and connoisseurs alike.
“A collaboration of different musical genres with some of the most soulful voices of the industry, I hope that In Rahon Mein is able to take the listener through a journey of memories,” he added.
Before In Rahon mein, Miko has a huge body of work, which he has composed over the last 12 years for top notch channels and performers, to his credit. An accomplished piano player, he has a formal background of learning western classical music with grades from the Royal School of Music, London. Also the first Assamese artist to feature in and have his own VEVO channel, Miko has earlier composed music for some highly popular shows of Colours Television, Star Plus, Sony TV, and the like.
Urmila Mahanta needs your votes to script history in SIIMA awards
There seems to be no stopping this young Assamese actress. Mumbai-based Assamese actress Urmila Mahanta who has been in the news for the past couple of years is back in the limelight. Making the entire State of Assam and Northeast India proud, Urmila has shown her mettle by being nominated for the South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) for her stellar performance in the Tamil crime thriller Vazhakku Enn: 18/9.
Urmila has been nominated in two categories in the prestigious SIIMA awards – as Best Debutant Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The awards will be given in Dubai in the third week of September. Urmila is the first Assamese girl to be nominated for the SIIMA award, that too in two categories. She has also been nominated for the Best Actress Debut awards in Vijay TV awards.
A Post Graduate in Acting from Film & Television Institute of India, Urmila had earlier received critical praise for her sensitive portrayal in the highly acclaimed teen crime thriller Vazhakku Enn: 18/9. Directed by Balaji Shaktivel, the film had gone on to pick up National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil, National Film Award for Best Make-up Artist. The SIIMA awards 2013 saw her name being nominated in two categories.
Talking about her nomination to the SIIMA awards, Urmila says, “It is really a humbling experience to know that people in South India have accepted the films I have worked in and also my acting capabilities. This goes to prove that language is no barrier for acting and I am really thankful to God and my directors, producers and co-workers for putting all their support on me.”
Assamese people in Mumbai as well as back home are upbeat about Urmila’s achievement. In the words of National School of Drama pass-out Assamese actor Jyoti Narayan Nath, “What Urmila has done is no mean achievement. Balaji Shaktivel is known to be a sticker for perfectionism and the fact that she got selected for the film and portrayed the role of Tamil lady so well is itself praiseworthy. Urmila has done Assam and Northeast India proud and people across the region should come out to vote for her.”
Parineeta Chakraborty, a Mumbai-based Assamese actress who has worked in many Hindi serials, films and Assamese feature films, said, “Urmila has done Assam and Northeast proud. People of Northeast should vote for Urmila and ensure that she wins this prestigious award.”
Voting lines are open in the SIIMA website. People in Assam and Northeast can visit www.siima.in/2013 and vote for Urmila. Please vote for Urmila and help her script history as the first actress from Northeast to win the prestigious South India International Film awards.
Urmila Mahanta was born to Giridhar Mahanta and Ramala Mahanta in Sonapur, Assam. She has three siblings, Jutika Mahanta, Munmi Mahanta and Munindra Mahanta. Urmila did her entire schooling in Sonapur and later graduated from Dimoria College in Khetri, Kamrup. Urmila spent her major part of life in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and then went on to enrol at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
Urmila had been acting in plays since her childhood and bagged many awards. Afterwards, she was featured in several television serials such as Murder and Tejimola for Doordarshan (NE), which were followed by appearances in various critically acclaimed short films including Aaliya, that won the Special Critic Award at the 2012 Mumbai International Film Festival, Their Story and Cheng Kurthy. Urmila was also seen in Assamese singer Tarali Sarma’s album Henguliya.
While attending the International Film Festival of India at Goa, she was spotted and selected among few others following a lengthy process lasting two years including multiple auditions conducted by director Balaji Sakthivel for his drama-thriller Vazhakku Enn 18/9. Urmila has received notable praise for portraying the character of a slum dweller, Jyothi, who works as a housemaid. The Times of India critic M. Suganth wrote: “It is Urmila Mahanta’s understated performance as Jothi that is the film’s pivot”. Similarly, a reviewer from IndiaGlitz.com noted that Urmila was “impressive as a short poetry on screen”, further adding that she “bubbles with energy and emotes at ease”, while another critic quoted: “Urmila is a treat to watch. She delivers what Balaji Sakthivel wants from her. She is cool and passes the test with ease and elan”. The film itself received widespread acclaim, with reviewers calling it “excellent”, a “must-watch”, and even “the film of the year”.
The story of Mayong’s legendary magic will now travel to the United States.
“Mayong: Myth/Reality”, a documentary directed by Utpal Borpujari and produced by Jayanta Goswami under the banner of Darpan Cine Production, has been selected for screening at the Silent River Film Festival to be held in California (USA) in October.
The documentary, which makes a first-time effort to capture the story of Mayong in film, is among the 79 films chosen from all over the world for screening at the festival that will happen at Irvine in California from October 17 to 20.
The film, which has earlier been screened at the 6th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, 5th CineASA Guwahati International Film Festival and the Indie8 Film Festival in Shillong, has already been archived by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Britain and Ireland, as reported earlier. It will also be screened at the Gandhinagar International Film Festival soon.
The other films from India that will be screened at the Silent River Film Festival are Vikramaditya Motwane’s Hindi feature film “Lootera”, Sourav Sarangi’s documentary “Char – The No Man’s Island”, and short films “Lapet” by Anshul Sinha and “Afterglow” by Kaushal Oza.
Incidentally, the DVD of “Mayong: Myth / Reality” will soon be released nationally by Junglee Home Video, the DVD label of Times Music.
For more information, please contact Utpal Borpujari 9811631034 or Jayanta Goswami 9435013267.