[ Here are five joyous excerpts of recordings from a recent night on the JNU campus – after Kanhaiya Kumar came back – recorded by a young person called Veer Vikram. We do not know who Veer Vikram is, but came across his Youtube Channel, and were struck by the raw freshness of the voices and of the footage. So we are sharing them with you, saluting the generosity of Veer Vikram, who recorded these and uploaded them on to Youtube for everyone to enjoy. May there be many long nights of joy, music, dancing and poetry – in campuses, factories and neighborhoods – everywhere Think so what a beautiful sight a ‘vishaal jan jagaran’ (as distinct from a ‘bhagawati’ jagaran) can make in different corners of Delhi, and in every city and town where young people can no longer take the rubbish offered by TV channels and the Modi regime. The revolution will be danced, sang, dreamt, recorded, uploaded, downloaded, shared and enjoyed. No more words necessary ]
In this country of almost a billion and a quarter you might find some people who have not heard of Mohammed Rafi. In such a scenario, My Abba: A Memoir, a book on the great singer written by his daughter-in-law Yasmin Khalid Rafi in its stream of conscience kind of technique, connects one to his life like no other book. Yasmin is writing about someone she idolised and loved, like only a daughter can. When she talks of him, a jumble of memories comes rushing back and surrounds her—the songs she liked, the music directors who worked with Rafi Saheb, his simplicity, his generousness, his love for his family, his insecurities, his inability to be flamboyant, the metamorphosis that transformed him into a great performer the moment he set foot on the stage. Continue reading Playback of a golden voice→
In the last month the streets of Delhi have echoed with a slogan familiar to many in Kashmir – ‘Hum Kya Chahtey ? – Azaadi !’ (‘What do we want ? – Freedom !’). Thousands of young women and men have chanted this slogan in Delhi while protesting against rape and sexual violence, and while doing so, they have also spoken out, with great courage and integrity, and carried explicit banners and signs about the fact that women in Kashmir have had to face rape and sexual assault by the AFSPA protected armed forces (the army, police, irregular counter-insurgents and paramilitary forces) of the Indian state. And no, the young people carrying these signs, and chanting these slogans, that talk about Nilofar and Aasiya Jaan, that name the atrocities and rapes that took place in Shopian and Kunan Poshpora have not been all Kashmiris. Some of them are Kashmiri students studying in Delhi University, JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia. But along with them, several of the young people who have been weaving the reality of Kashmir into the fabric of the protests in Delhi are not from Kashmir. Each time that they have walked with these signs and chanted these slogans – (and I have seen them in every gathering and every demonstration – their numbers are growing – as more young people in Delhi use the protests as sites of learning about the many complex realities of power and oppression) – they risk being branded as ‘traitors’ by the mainstream of Indian nationalist opinion, which can never question the Indian state’s conduct in Kashmir. They have tempered their sense of justice and deepened it with the substance of solidarity. Continue reading Azaadi (Freedom) for ‘Pragaash’, an All Female Band from Kashmir→
The words are beautiful; the voices that sing them mellifluous. And yet, I find that instead of being overwhelmed as I usually am by the qawwali of Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad, enraptured by the transcendental waves of their music, parts of my consciousness are held down, niggled. Perhaps it’s the constant drumming and strumming, perhaps it’s the psychedelic sound waves zipping across giant screens, perhaps it’s the acoustics that throw back bits of the singers’ strains at them. But the Coke Studio version of Khabaram Raseedah doesn’t affect me the way even scratchy recordings of live, open-air concerts do. Continue reading Coke Studio Pakistan – At a crossroads: Nandini Krishnan→
So the unanimous verdict is that Coke Studio India (first aired on the Friday that went by) is no match for Coke Studio Pakistan [Wikipedia]. For some it’s been like an India-Pakistan match – I’ve seen Indian congratulate Pakistanis on Twitter for the ‘Coke Studio victory’ and others ask Indian musicians and singers to listen to Pakistani singers and hang themselves. For most, this was not surprising – Coke Studio Pakistan has showcased some of the best music you’ve heard in recent times and it raised the bar too high for Coke Studio India. There’s also the problem of Bollywoodisation of music in India, of dumbing down, producing music aimed at the marriage market and livening up the moods of those stuck in traffic. A celebrity culture has taken the passion out of music in India – it does not seem to come from deep within. New popular music in India leaves you with the kind of feeling that a mall does. Loud and empty.