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Assamese singer-composer makes a splash with Sony music album and video


Ajay Singha1

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.

Striking a new chord

Sunita’s raagas-meet-folk concept album on violin strikes a chord

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Vodafone Business Head Northeast B Bajpai launching Sunita's Bihu Strings

And if you thought that Bihu was all about dancing and merry-making, you better think once again. The melodious Bihugeet, which has long been overshadowed by the associated dance moves of Bihu songs, has finally been brought to the forefront in Assamese fiddler Sunita Bhuyan’s unique concept album, Bihu Strings by Times Music, which was launched in the city by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi last week.

It would not be wrong to call Bihu Strings a first-of-its-kind music presentation in the national and international circuit. For Sunita has used original Bihu melodies, with its thoughtful and socially relevant lyrics, and blended the same with the inherent raga patterns of the classical music world to create an exciting medley of sounds. What makes it even more special is the fact that the songs in the album have been performed entirely on the violin, making Sunita the first ever violinist in the country to do a complete folk and fusion album on the fiddle!

The violin which has had the image of being a western instrument adapted to Indian styles have so far been played in the classical forms i.e. the Hindustani and Karnatic forms in India. This stereotype has finally been broken with Bihu strings as Sunita plays an entirely range of tunes, ranging from classical ragas, Assamese folk tunes, Scottish tunes, jazz elements, et al. “My attempt is to demonstrate the prevalence of the universal seven notes in all kinds of music, be it classical, folk, rock, western jazz etc. The age old Bihugeet, blended with classical ragas and a bit of western folk and jazz – that is Bihu strings for you,” says Sunita, who is the daughter of Minoti Khaund, senior disciple of Pt VG Jog.

The songs in the album too have been thoughtfully penned and each number reflects an inherent facet of Assamese life during the Bohaag Bihu season. The album begins with ‘Bholuka Baahore’, which talks about the sensuous tresses of a girl which are adorned with beautiful flowers. The piece is based in raag dhani – the all pervading raag of most bihu melodies. The next track, “Luitor Baalite” talks about the fun and frolic of two youngsters on the banks of the Brahmaputra, which is a fusion of Bihugeet with Irish folk and rock percussions.

Then there is Ganga Siloni, which is based on Raag Bhupali. The song talks about the heralding of the spring season through the first chirping of the migratory birds. From the expression of teenage love as portrayed in ‘Xosakoi Bor Dhuniya’ to the more subtle ‘Ranga Nadi’, the lyrics in the album touches on an entire gamut of socially relevant issues. ‘Ranga Nadi’, in fact, dwells on the recurring problem of floods, which brings normal life to complete disarray every year in the State but which cannot dampen the spirit of Bihu among the people.

While the lyrics have been written by Gupta Borthakur, a number of talented musicians have collaborated with Sunita in his album. While Rupam Bhuyan and Prasanta Kaur have joined sunita with the vocals, the percussion instruments have been handled by Pranjal Barua, Dibya Jyoti Changmai (tabla) and Diganta Saikia and Lachit Gogoi on the “Dhol”. Noted guitarist Shantanu Baruah has added the western flavor in Luitore Baalite, while the keyboard and sound mixing is by Rupam Talukdar.

The album has been released on the Times Music label and the songs will also be available for download to mobiles and other handheld devices after the album’s digital release in Mumbai next week.

Mumbai’s tribute to late Bhupen Hazarika

Bombay Gymkhana, the elite club and cultural centre of South Mumbai paid a special tribute to Dr. Bhupen Hazarika during their quarterly music concert this week.

bombay gym violin tribute

The big gathering observed silence for his departed soul and paid a tribute to his genius. Music Secretary of the club Dr. Atul Garud mentioned in his tribute that “Bhupen da” was not just a singer and composer but was a powerful writer, poet, lyricist, social activist.. all rolled into one , a rare combination of a musical genius.

Mumbai based Assamese violinist Sunita Bhuyan gave a classical violin and vocal recital accompanying her mother and guru Minoti Khaund, eminent violinist of Assam. Minoti expressed that she felt blessed to give our humble tribute to our beloved Bhupenda at the Bombay Gymkhana this evening! Sunita said, “Mother and I took the audience through a journey of Bhupenda’ s magical melodies and the stories behind each masterpiece, Samay dheere chalo,Ddil hum hum kare, the iconic Biyaar nixha, Manuhe manuhor baabe and finally Ganga beheti ho kyon /bistrinno parore.

The audience’s reaction was, “How can each and every song of one composer and singer be so varied and so eloquent in celebrating the myriad colours of life!” They were overwhelmed by the mastery of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika over melody, rhythm and lyrics….a legend who lives on through his music and passion…

Sunita performs at Rajiv Gandhi memorial ceremony

Assamese violinist Sunita Khaund Bhuyan, who is becoming a popular figure in the music circles of the country, added yet another feather in her cap when she performed at the Shradhanjali ceremony, which was organized in Mumbai to pay homage to former Prime Minister of the country Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi on his 67th birth anniversary.

Sunita with the mumbai mahila congress

Held on August 20 last at the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee Head Office, a number of political bigwigs and illustrious personalities were part of the gathering.

The event, which was attended by a host of dignitaries, included among others Shri Prithiviraj Chavan, Chief Minister Maharashtra, Shri Mohammad Arif Naseem Khan Minister for Textiles, Minorities Development and AUKAF, Shri Suresh Hirayenna Shetty Minister for Public Health & Family Welfare and Protocol, Shri Milind Deora Member of Parliament & Minister of State for Information Technology & Communications, Shri Eknath Gaikwad Member of Parliament-Mumbai South Central, Mumbai Congress President Shri Kripashanker Singh Member of the Legislative Assembly , Mrs Janet Dsouza President Mumbai Mahila Congress , Shri Charansingh Sapra Member of the Legislative Council Maharashtra.

With most of the gathering mesmerised by the performance of the Assamese violinist, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan and MP Milind Deora, in particular, congratulated and felicitated the artist for her performance.

Sunita Bhuyan, who is the head of leadership and developmental training at Syntel Inc – a global ITES firm – is the daughter of veteran Indian classical musician Minoti Khaund. A respected human resource professional, she plays a dual role in life balancing her profession and her love of music. She has excelled under her mother’s musical tutelage to emerge as one of the finest violinists in the country. A star performer in many prestigious stages across the nation, her life is a precarious balance of her love and passion for music and her own professional requirements that involves bringing out the best in people.

Sunita has designed a much-acclaimed HR module called Life enrichment through music, which uses the various nuances of melody and harmony to increase productiveness in employees. The module has fetched Sunita the award for most innovative learning practice at the world HRD congress last year, while she has also been invited to present this concept at the Harvard Club of New York later this year. The artist is also a recipient of the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award for Music.

From raagas to Bollywood

Music is more than just a soothing performing Art. The possibilities of using this Art form to heal the mind, body and spirit is endless and that is what a number of musicians and artistes have been trying to do all over the globe. The latent powers of music, as has been successfully proved by the Eastern Beats Music Society in Guwahati, can be exploited to a large extent to unite people and to heal wounds, something which is truly remarkable.

Now, another prolific musician from the State has won an innovation award for her attempts to use music to enrich life and productivity in office. I am talking about ace violinist Sunita Bhuyan who is presently working as a Human Resource professional in Mumbai. Sunita recently won the award for ‘Most Innovative HR practice’ at the World HR Congress for her training program in Syntel – ‘Life enrichment though music’.

With long office hours, tough deadlines, grueling schedules, demanding clients and unsympathetic bosses being some of the main features of most of today’s professional careers, stress comes early in a person’s life these days. Add to it lifestyle problems like lack of exercise, more bouts of anger and worry, the result if predictable: decreased productivity and higher chance of psychological and physical problems.

The manifold benefits of Indian classical music need not be undermined and you only need to listen to benefit. The scientific aspects of certain raagas for tackling diseases like hyper tension and cardiac problems have been well documented.

There are raagas for every time of the day. Morning raagas like Raag Bhairav, Todi, Ahir and Bhairav helps boost metabolism and puts you in an energetic and chirpy frame of mind. Besides opening up the nervous system, it lifts endorphins making you feel calm and contented. It also helps in tackling indigestion. Needless to say, the morning raagas are perfect for you to tackle a hectic day at work!

Similarly, post-lunch raagas like Raag Bhimpalashri, Kafi and Dhani helps one beat the post-lunch sluggishness that is usually found to affect one during the afternoons. Besides perking you up, songs with these raagas usually invokes a cool frame of mind. Evening ragas are again mostly romantic, providing vivid images of love, colous and nature – just what you need to relax after a tiring day at work!

An interesting feature of Sunita’s module is ‘Raaga to Bollywood’ – an unique method in which one can make use of the benefits of Indian classical raagas from hit Bollywood numbers. So if you don’t have the patience to listen to raagas and if you are not able to understand the nuances of Indian classical music, you need not worry. Sunita prescribes just a few hit bollywood tracks based on the same raagas and which are just as useful in beating stress! For instance, if you humming the all-time hit Tu cheez bari hai mast mast, you are just listening to Raag Bhimpalshri. And if you think Kaisi Paheli from Parineeta is soothing, it is imperative you know that the song is based on Raag Bilawal!

So next time you go out music shopping, just be a bit more careful in choosing your music. Buy stress-free music, which are available in most music shops in plenty, and help lead a more productive life – both at home and in office! And on a more personal note, let me say that there’s nothing like making music. If you can squeeze out the time, enroll in a music class today! The benefits are enormous, trust me.

Asomiya magic in Mumbai

Noted violinist Minoti Khaund and daughter Sunita Bhuyan performed for a mega fundraising event at the hitoric Shanmughanada Auditorium in Mumbai recently. The concert was named Privilege in aid of the Don Bosco Shelter, Mumbai which takes care of hundreds of street children. Minoti and Sunita shared the stage with a host of other celebrities who performed that day, starting from Latino drummer Bondo, to Manasi Scott, Mona Singh and Oscar winning choreographer Longinus.

The chief guest for the function was Boman Irani, who is the chief patron of the Don Bosco Shelter. Father Barnabe, head of the Shelter, while thanking all the artists made a special mention of the efforts of Sunita and Minoti for contributing towards the event. Sunita has been associated with the Don Bosco children as she conducts music workshops for them.

Minoti, a disciple of Late Pandit VG Jog has been the foremost violinist of Asom for the last five decades. Her story has been a single-minded pursuit of music despite being thoroughly entrenched in traditional family life. A gold medallist from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad with a Master’s degree in Music, Minoti has been playing the violin in prestigious concerts and festivals in India and abroad. Minoti went through a traditional ‘guru-sishya parampara’ with Pandit Jog and has carried on the tradition by grooming her daughter into a fine fiddler, who absorbed the finer nuances of the violin literally at her mother’s knee. Sunita, on the other hand, is a recipient of the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award for excellence in music, besides a Masters’ degree in music. She likes to experiment with light classical and folk fusion to reach out to a diverse spectrum of audiences. With both mother and daughter having carved a niche for themselves in the field of classical music in India, the duo’s performance is generally marked by uninhibited mannerisms and utmost truthfulness.