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Folk and Bollywood share same space in Arunachal

Continuing with my feature on the music industry of all the Northeastern States, this time around the spotlight is on Arunachal Pradesh – the eastern most province of the country, known for its mountainous terrain and scenic beauty. While the music scene is still at a very nascent stage here, the State has produced a couple of phenomenal musicians in recent years.

Some of the most popular artistes of the State are Tage Diibo, Lama Tashi, Damang Loram, Getem Apang, Omak Tamut, The Vinyl Records, Alien Gods, Olik Boko, Cemetery Clan, Carnal Sin, Daniel boko’s reggae band, amongst others.

Bollywood remains the biggest draw for the people here and Bollywood artistes still can draw huge crowds, something which is not possible for any other independent artiste or practitioner of any other genre. However, folk music is the biggest draw in Arunachal Pradesh. Not surprising, because the State has 26 major tribes and more than 116 smaller tribes. Each of these tribes again have numerous other sub-tribes and clans, which all have their own dialect! Hindi is the most popular language here as it binds all the people together. However, given the diverse nature of the people and the traditional tonal disparities in the language, Hindi has also got a makeover in this part of the country, to result in what many dub as “Arunachali Hindi”.

An index of the music industry of any region is the number of music stores and channels catering to the demands of the people. In Arunachal, there are just two music stores – the Bass and Drums Music store in Itanagar and another smaller one in Tawang. The only music label in the State is Octave.

With regards to satellite channels, they are mostly based outside the State. Though a number of local cable channels are also operated, they are active at Ziro and Along. They air programmes in local dialects, especially in the major dialects.

Performance-wise, there are two major venues in the capital city of Itanagar – the Indira Gandhi park and the Rajiv Gandhi stadium. There is a general ground & community halls in all the districts of the State. While outdoor performances, mostly traditional and bollywood are held in the ground, small scale programmes are organized in the community halls.

For artistes in the State, there are two studios where all the recording and mixing work is generally done – Octave Studio and Sabtak Recording. While most of the artistes do their recording in these two studios, a small number still go to Guwahati for recording their songs

 All in all, the music industry can be said to be in a very nascent stage in Arunchal Pradesh. While the audience has no particular taste for music, all genres enjoy the same popularity as the same crowd goes for all the show. As such, the audience is very fixed and limited. Among the new independent artistes, Alien gods, cemetery clan have a huge fan base. Alien Gods, incidentally, is the first metal outfit of the State.

A couple of private parties are also working hard to develop the sense of appreciation for music amongst the people. Phoeniz Event, led by Bobby Hano and Getem Apang, is trying to develop the taste for new genres among the people. They organize small scale concerts for blues, jazz and other musical genres in the lawn of Hotel Ashok which has a capacity of around 200-300 people.