Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meeting Zeb and Haniya, A perfect blissful experience

Ever since I came to know about Zeb and Haniya through an accidental search on the Google, I have come to fall in love with this cousin duo. Actually I was searching for Shafqat Amanat’s album and then came to know about a certain Zeb and Haniya who have made a superb album the same year. A little more YouTube search and I finally came across their Aitebar video and Chal diyay. Slowly, the intoxication grew more and somehow I got links to all their tracks. Then there was a continuous week I was listening to the whole album again and again. After years, I found some music which I can become obsessed with. Then suddenly through more Googling, came to know about Coke Studio. After listening to the CS version of “Paimona”, I officially became a Zeb and Haniya devotee. From that point in the year 2009, I followed them on their Facebook page (then it had some 6-7 thousand members, today it has 1.15 lacs !!)

My comments and words attracted their attention several times and they were nice enough to comment reply back thus establishing a communication between (which many stars and celebrities carefully avoid). From day one, Z&N were always keen on having a direct contact with their fans. I had some memorable commenting and counter-commenting with the duo on FB (but I really don’t know whose there on their FB page ? Was it Zeb or was it Haniya?)

I had always wished Zeb and Haniya to come to India and feel at home, expand their fan base in this country and establish themselves at par with the local talent that we have got here. India is living through a dark age of pop/independent music. Although there is no dearth of bands as such but the monstrous Bollywood has blocked all avenues of communication for them to prosper. Moreover it has successfully alienated the masses from the concept of band-music, something that we had very fresh and live during the 90’s. The situation is just the reverse in Pakistan, bands and fresh acts are flourishing. Indeed unstable political condition has deterred the growth of such bands in Pak but due the rise of internet and media, bands have gained huge visibility. Pakistani youth of today have developed a fine aptitude towards listening and appreciating band-based indie music which is not the case with contemporary Indian youth [on a mass scale] who would not accept any song if it’s not from a film or has stars dancing in it or lacks gimmickry and show off. This is what I think. Hence I always thought, that popularizing Pakistani acts can really improve the musical taste of the Indian youngsters and that’s why bringing acts like Zeb and Haniya, Mekaal Hassan Band, Noori, Areib Azhar is anything but compulsory apart from encouraging the local artists who are struggling to break free from the toxic cyst of Bollywood music.

I had been dying to meet Z&H since two years. They promised a Blue Frog concert during January, 2009. I kept waiting for it and Jan, Feb, March all passed, they didn’t (couldn’t) come. I was saddened . While facebooking continued, I came to know that they would come this year in August. I was determined that I WILL MEET THEM ANYHOW this time. And thank god it did happened. Zeb and Haniya were so kind that they appeared in a fan meetup-tweetup during the last day of their tour(maybe they had my case in mind) which was organized by Only Much Louder under their Dewarists project. (have no idea what Dewarists mean, something to do with wall?)

The meetup was organized at Zenzi,Bandra. For those who regularly travel to Mumbai, they know what hell does break in Mumbai’s streets. I couldn’t afford to bunk my classes so I left at 4:30 and ran for Mumbai. On the way, God presented me with every kind of difficulty and obstacle. I couldn’t find an auto, had to catch a Sumo(Tata) paying double fees because otherwise I was getting late, there was tremendous traffic jam at Pune itself, Mumbai welcomed us with its suffocating traffic jam, I lost my wallet with ATM, driving license and collage id card,………..what worse can one expect. Really I felt, God was taking a test of my desperation.

Photo Credit: Naman Saraiya
Find many more photos of this event on Naman's Flickr stream

Photo Credit: Naman Saraiya
Find many more photos of this event on Naman's Flickr stream

After crossing all the hurdles I could finally reach the Zenzi bar at 10:30. By that time, their performance was over and there was nothing but a whole lotta guys/girls from the celebrity circuit. The faces which I could immediately identify were Cyrus Sahukar (MTV Vj), Neha Dhupia, Konkona Sen Sarma (Actresses), Shantanu Moitra (music director of Parineeta), Dhruv Jagasia (manager of Indian Ocean and Mediaval Punditz).
I quietly went up to the guard and asked if the Z&H thingy was happening or not and the answer was “it’s done”. So was there, poor “I”, after surviving through such a huge ordeal, I could not meet Z&H. I just stepped back into a corner. I was finding myself highly isolated in that environment. There was a crowd of Mumbai’s rich elites from the celebrity circuit, all dressed up and make-uped well , and there was me, a vada-pao guy who whose middle class sensibilities would never even allow him to step into that place. After a full day’s travel I knew I was looking like a “Salam Bombay” star. I had no time to shave and my dress too was very soiled as well. I was being repelled from that environment, I have no entry card. What to do? After a bit of thinking I finally approached Cyrus Sahukar and asked him if Zeb and Haniya have left or not. He said that they might be inside. OK! So I made no delay went into the bar and straight to the washroom. Took out the “Fabindia” long-kurta which I bought the previous day. Long Kurtas are really nice and safe since they cover most of your body leaving no scope for the style polices to detect disgraceful seams in pants, belts and all. But my face was greasy like a frying pan and no shaving. I know you’d say that I am too much self conscious, but then that is how I am.

After a bit searching I could see Haniya having a drink at the corner. I went up to her and introduced myself, the immediate reaction was a buddy hug. Here was me who just said “Hi” to a billboard celebrity in Pakistan and received a hug, what can be more blushing than this. She went in and called me up to meet Zeb. Both of them were really sweet and said that they felt very nice that I had come to meet them. Z&H introduced me to Obeid Bangash, Zeb’s brother and Z&H’s manager. They told that they follow my activity on FB and all. Obeid took one pic of me, Zeb and Haniya. Then I had a talk with both Zeb and Haniya. We had only a few minutes of conversation. I asked them I they would like to come to Pune. Zeb said that she’s is excited to come to Pune since Pune has a good reputation for its underground scene. They will be coming back to India during November-December. I am trying to put my resources so that such a Pune meetup/concert can be organized. How many Puneittes are interested?

The best moment of the meet up was when I gifted Z&H a CD of their own album. What? What’s special in that. Ha ha, I know that’s what you’d think. But this CD is a special one. This CD contained 15 of their greatest hits and the album cover plus the cd sticker had everything written in Hindi. I just collected their pics from the net and created a CD cover/ album artwork with Indian touch. Zeb is trying to learn to read the devanagari script and she looked into each letter of her name, trying hard to read them. You can see the CD in the pics below.

There were a few moments of pure blush. Zeb once told that she’d like to get the CD signed by me. During our conversation I told that how I have clung to Pakistani music and my consistent (over) activity on Facebook in favor of the Pakistani music scene has drawn a good amount of goodwill from Pakistanis, even the Facebook friendship of Jal’s manager. Zeb told me that even Mekaal Hassan knows me (FB-wise) and all. I was on the seventh heaven but at the same time I am completely puzzled too. Haniya asked me to come to Pakistan and they’d introduce me with Noori and MHB and likes. Having gained so many Pakistani friends on facebook, I feel like visiting Pakistan more than ever.

At last they had to leave after posing for the last shot on my camera. The meeting was very pleasant short but pleasant one and I hope this small meet up would cascade into more productive results.
A few people who must be thanked.
Vijay Nayar and the whole OML team for formulating such a nice concept and actually materializing my 2 year old dream to meet the duo.
Arjun S Ravi aka @paperslut (on twitter) for putting me up in guest list.
My co-passenger on the Tata Sumo who lent me some bucks after I lost my wallet. I could reach back home only for you. As we parted, I gave him a Zeb and Haniya CD.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My experience at Coke Studio @ MTV

What a lucky guy I had been! The last week was full of awesomeness since I got the opportunity to witness a revolution. A revolution that is soon going to change the face of music and the way we listen to it (at least that’s what I hope for). Coke Studio has garnered immense popularity in Pakistan, and despite not being aired in India, its spill over popularity in India has taken a huge shape. So much so, that now some music enthusiasts have teamed up to produce the same show in India. Yes, an Indian Coke Studio featuring Indian Talents and singers from diverse backgrounds. The aim of the show is to delve into the deep ocean of Indian music and dig out the shining pearls of folk, indie and popular music rehashed with modern music production and present it to the much deserving Indian audience, many of whom had been silently praying for the existence of such a show, ever since they had been watching the Pakistani version on the net.

Just remember, how much had we cursed the music industry of our country, how much had we cursed Bollywood and how much have we cursed Munni, Sheila and their masters for not allowing a music scene to develop in this country that would bring a show like Coke Studio to life. But fortunately, the end of all that bashing and trashing has come and Coke Studio in India is a reality. And yes, I myself in flesh and bones had the rare chance to watch that reality unfold in front of my eyes.

In India, Coke Studio will be known as Coke Studio @ MTV. Why not Coke Studio India?-some would argue. I think that the reason behind not keeping it Coke Studio India is that, in none of the countries where it has taken place (Brazil, Pakistan, India and Philippines), it is known by the name of that country, for example Coke Studio in Pakistan is not “Coke Studio Pakistan”. And moreover, CS represents music in its purest form which is free from boundaries. But watchers in India who keep an eye on both the Pakistani show and the soon to happen Indian one, would rather be confused if the name of the Indian version is kept same. More so, because the 4th season of the Pakistani version is supposed to come about the same time as the first season of the Indian one. Hence the Indian version will be known as .Coke Studio @ MTV, simple. Since the MTV people are making a hell lot of efforts in creating this show, their association with the brand name of the show is fairly justified.

I know, when it comes to MTV, we are aware that there are so many among us who have hated MTV so far, for dropping music from its airtime, for promoting shows like Roadies and Splitsvilla which have got nothing to do with music apart from being very rude and raw, for reducing itself to a promotional-wing of Bollywood and all. But seldom do we look into the other side which is us, the viewers. The fact of the matter is that it is us, the viewers, who have broken their relation with quality music. Any channel (and for that matter even MTV) needs TRPs to grow and survive, and we the listeners have not been able to provide that oxygen to these music channels for so long. Whom to blame? Bollywood- which has completely corrupted our minds and reduced our taste in music to trash, or is it we the listeners who do not have even a slightest aptitude to explore and look for new music?

Enough said, let me tell you about my Coke Studio @MTV experience. Unlike all the other guys who won the chance to be present at the live recordings, I was perhaps the only one who was not from Mumbai and got the opportunity to be present at, not one but two shows. Many of you who have been longing to be at the shoot, wished to go there so that you can listen to some cool live music. If that was your objective then it’s good that you could not make it since the live recording was not at all a good acoustic or listening experience as such. Please forgive me if you're thinking that I'm being over critical. Coke Studio is supposed to be a “Live Recording” show and not a “Live Show” per se. There's a big difference between the two since most of the sound from the vocals and instruments were being fed into a mixer, and not loud speakers. There was indeed a console kept in front which had head-phone plugs through which you could listen the live recordings but then again, what you hear through the headphones was clashing with the sound outside (especially the drums) and the overall listening experience was not perfect. Coke Studio is meant for TV (and YouTube) and I am sure that it is going to unfold its best sound there itself. I am eagerly waiting for that.

Not having a syrupy listening experience is not at all a waste of purpose of being present there. You’ll get to know about so many things that others would probably never. There is so much more than what we see on TV and you’d be surprised to see the drilling efforts of so many people which is required to produce each episode. The show is shot using eight cameras. The most important being one on the Jib which needs a lot of effort and coordination to operate. There were two other cameras on circular tracks, and the rest being either hand held, on tripods or on wheeled-tripods. We often get carried away by the videography that is done in these shows, but do you know what a mammoth effort does it require to record a live video which is breezy and without any jerk. The video producer has to keep an eye on all the eight cameras, set each of the frames and guide the cameramen’s motion before capturing the visuals. And this needs a lot of voice-breaking commanding which the Hitler-some director was giving to the cameramen. Since I am in FTII and I had the chance to shoot a multicam exercise, I can partly understand what a heck it is to instruct multiple cameras. In my case, I was going nuts with three cameras, and this guy was instructing eight. The use of lensing is so superb, that you will be fooled into believing that the studio setup is very large (especially from the JIB camera). In fact the studio is quite compact and at places, not so spic-n-span. But it is the camera work which brings out the gorgeousness of the studio and lighting. The lighting was sparkling and we all know, nothing uplifts the mood of live music, other than proper lighting. At Coke Studio @ MTV, they have been able to create the same magic through lighting, which is the signature style of Coke Studio (Paksitan). I must applaud the efforts put by the camera and lighting team since in a shoot they are the ones who do the maximum physical work and by wide and far, their efforts are anything but successful. I only had the chance to watch the raw live takes. I am just dying to see the show post production.

The MTV team which received us at the shoot was very humble and cooperative, nothing of the sorts that we see during Roadies audition. Nikhil Taneja (from MTV) made it sure that we the fans, have the experience for which we had gone there. The freedom that we were give to roam around, take autographs and snap shots only tells how much willing they are to share this experience with ourselves (ordinary viewers). I even got my Colonial Cousins CD autographed by Leslie. On the first day, there was a bit of rush for the headphones and many of us had to share the same earplugs. On the second day, people from Coke had come and they willingly gave up the headphones for us, since they cared for what the fans want. What an unearthly humbleness. I am moved.

Having said so much, you might be thinking – what about the music? Well I can say that I was lucky enough to see Colonial Cousins, Kavita Seth, Benny Dayal and Suzane singing together with Praful Dave rendering beautiful folk tunes in between. On the second day, KK and Ramya Iyer Mathangi performed. I am not going to tell which songs did they perform or how did I find the performance. This is because I don’t want to spill any beans and take away the “surprise quotient” of the show, neither do I wish that my liking or disliking create any pre-assumptions about the performance. Coke Studio @MTV is all about exploration. As artists they have done their part by exploring folk, popular and indie music and amalgamating them into beautifully fused live sessions. As viewers, now the onus is on us, to explore the music that Coke Studio @MTV brings to us, with an honest heart and without any speculation or pre-conceived notions (although I have to accept, the success of the Pakistani version has already propelled our expectations to peaks). After all, for whom is this show being organized? It is for US- the music lovers!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Music Piracy in India : How to get rid of that IMO

One of the basic reasons that Piracy has gone haywire in India is because there is no competitive medium which promotes buying music easily. Now a days people listen to MP3s stocked in their PCs, Laptops etc. But all downloaded illegally.

[1] Even for a site like Hungama which offers music at very competitive options, if they enable buying music with your SBI atm card(like the way we buy train tickets), then so many people would buy legal music. But they lack the far sightedness an energy because of which there is no advancement in this direction.

[2]Parallely, all websites blogs and forums which allow illegal downloads, their IP addresses need to be blocked and regular monitoring is required. Liability of services like Google Adsense and Rapidshare should be drawn by legal procedures so that they do cannot shrug off their shoulder from any responsibility, while their services are being used on a massive scale to share music illegally.

Google claims itself to a top notch innovator inventor blah blah. can't it work on a search engine algorithm that slashes down the SEO rankings of pirate sites? After all, it is through google only that everyone searches for pirate sites, torrents etc etc.But why would they until it cost them their money and no one is also bothering them?

[3] The music industry should also work to promote music on its own. To create excitement among listeners about upcoming music, so that the physical format to makes good sales. Currently the attitude of music companies is to treat a potential Pop album the same way as a Bhajan album. Except Universal records, all other music companies are like that. Moreover, the shithole bollywood film industry has reduced the value of music as a promotional tool. How will music survive and make a place in people's attention?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Album Review: Chup by Zeb and Haniya

Artiste : Zeb and Haniya
Label : Fire Records(Pakistan), Unreleased(India)
CD Price : Rs ??
Cassete : I don't know, haven't seen any.
Website :

Today I will be doing something that I haven’t yet done all this while. I am writing the album review of an act which hasn’t yet released in India and also this would be the first album I am reviewing without buying the original CD, thanks to free download on the net. Its not that I support piracy or illegal sharing on the net, its just that I am not savvy with credit cards and a big dumbo when it come to buying things on the net.

Zeb and Haniya are a female duo from Pakistan. They are settled in Lahore but are originally from the NWFP town of Kohat. They are cousins and are ethnic Pashtuns. Zebunissa Bangash the vocalist and Haniya Aslam is guitarist and the prime creative force behind the band’s music (lyrics/tunes). She has also lent vocals to some of the songs in the album.

Their debut album “CHUP” comprises of ten tracks, 9 original and 1 traditional/folk. The album opens with the title track ‘Chup’. This song is a tangy-timid, yet refreshingly melodious one. I read on the net that this was the very song which they casually uploaded on the net, and from where the journey began. Well you cam read all these on other sites.

Chup” is essentially an effeminate song. The lyrics are extremely seductive yet very decent and calm. Especially the lines “Muskurahat meri boley kya? Socho na!”, had a very spoiling effect on me. Now whenever a girl smiles at me, I tend to think she is considering me, you know what....... It’s only the next morning while shaving/tooth-brushing, the mirror reminds me that’s impossible! No complains! After all society has constructed arrange marriages for us-like fellows only :P.
Seems like these girls know, what guys like and what guys like actually ;).

The next track “Rona Chor Diya” is a bit faster and a bit bolder from the first one. The song is very catchy, and is built on the age old feminist theme of “woman’s emancipation from the emotional clutches of a man”. The lyrics are beautifully written in a way that expresses anger, disgust and joy without any attitude. Nice and energizing song.

Kabhi Na Kabhi” is my personal favorite. This song has a very closed-in-a-dark-room sense in it. It’s a beautiful song, another one on “woman’s emancipation from man” theme. Especially I like the antara part “ baatein teri na maano, bhooli mai wo sapna”

alternative cd cover
Track#4 “Paimiona Bitte(or Bideh)” is a love song in part Pashto and part Darri(Afghan Farsi/Persian). Lover anticipating beloved through the intoxication of wine. A complex explanation of this song revolving around Sufism, religion and spirituality has been given here . Whatever impression on Afghan music I had(that being of a caravan, campfire flavor) I could have never imagined that it could be moulded so seamlessly into jazz blues music. There is another version of it(not in the album) which they have performed on Coke Studio and which is fully in Darri. You will sureley become an addict if you give it a listen at this site .

The fifth track is yet another “closed-in-dark-room” song and this one has an even stronger flavor. But part of this song has an “out-in-sunshine” flavor also. I could not understand what exactly has been expressed in “Kahaan” per se, but I guess its something like a man investigating/soul searching into his broken relationship. Like a tosspot Devdas accusing his arrogance after he realizes that he left Paro out of ego-war, but loves her indefinitely.

The next track is a gem, one which adds a little variety to this album, which has been transitioned into a dark room due to earlier tracks. “Chal Diye” is a complete out-in-sunshine/moonlight song. A complete takeoff from the gloomy songs, it starts with beautiful tunes on flute and guitar. Melodious and tranquil, as it is, this song expresses the joy of being free, out in the wild, and having found a friend there, sharing feelings with him/her.

The seventh song on this album is “Aahan” and when you listen to it, you’ll say “Aahaaaa, kya baat hai!”. This song like most others on this CD are mellow, calm and tickling. I am yet to comprehend what’s meant by the lyrics, but I sense some girlish emotions. An unofficial video of this is available on Youtube, which has been made using high quality animation by some well wisher.

Track#8 “Sah Na Sakey” is a moody, happy go lucky song, one which extends “Chup” in more casual or rather freaky manner. Till now I have not patiently listened to this one and I usually skip while the CD is playing. This song can be gracefully put into the category of a filler, without which no album can ever be made :P.
If you’re not happy with my perspective, then call me bad listener. I have no probs.

The penultimate song on this album, “Aetbar” needs special mention, since it is the only song for which a music video has been made and that too a classy one. The contemporary dances shown in the video, aptly complements the music. The music is yet another “dark-room” rendition which is again built on the feminist emancipation theme. The song, as someone rightfully described, is very Claptonesque ( I must confess although, that I am not aware about the fine details of Claptonesquism!)

The CD ends with “Banke Touri Jogan” which seems like to be taken from a raga. The lyrics are written in typical language of Hindustani Classical music, i.e. “Braj Bhasha”. This is the one and only fast paced song in the album, and to which one can dance as well(sorry! No bollywoodish moves please)

Some general things about this album. You will find no chaos in this music, which seems to have made a very respectable place in our bollywood music now a days. The songs are surprisingly smooth and melodious, something very untypical of today’s music. Haniya’s song writing is fantabulous. Her command over writing lyrics is truly amazing. Zeb’s vocals are smooth and is of melt-in-mouth(ears to be precise) consistency and very very sexy seductive! It is not like that of a classical singer’s wavy, turbulent, storm-in-the-ocean type but that of a clam lake in the oasis. Haniya’s vocals are a bit mature and husky but blends seamlessly with Zeb’s . Sometimes I get confused where Haniya has left and Zeab has picked and vice versa e.g. in “Rona Chor Diya”. Hildegunn’s saxophone is fabulous and is the core of many of the songs in this album, e.g. “Chup”, “Kabhi Na Kabhi”.

Overall this album has very new sounds and the lyrics are meaningful but not overtly philosophical. Four songs of this album have been re-created in the Coke Studio, and mind you they are awesome and highly addictive. By now I have listened to this album many times over but still I am not tired.

A must must must buy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Album Review : Sona by Sona Mohapatra

Artiste : Sona Mohapatra
Label : Sony Music/Sony BMG
CD Price : Rs 175
Cassete : I don't know, haven't seen any.

Sona Mohapatra, many of us have already been familiar with her name, her having made a mark in the recent music scene with her 2006 debut album. But since I purchased the album 3 years later, I intend to write the album review now.

For me like observant girl-watchers(we are not Casanovas, nor do we flirt, we just watch) Sona was first seen on television as an audition-er for the 2002 Channel [V] Popstars reality show. She and her sister Pratichee performed "Dama Dam Mast Qalandar" in front of the four member jury. She was rejected on the 1st round itself while her sister eventually won the show, formed the band, released two albums, got the band split and now is almost forgotten.

Come 2006, Sona hooked to legendary and made-famous-by-controversy composer-musician Mr. Ram Sampath, the founder member of the now forgotten "Colorblind" band. Sona has been very lucky to have got a lofty music producer as husband who instead of expecting her to make delicious dinners, is helping her to realize her dream. Having quit her thick salaried job at Marico with all those and MBA degrees, she is now ready to storm or music systems.

The CD opens with a much listened, much promoted track "Bolo Na". The song is beautifully composed depicting a lady soul searching and trying to reason out what made her loose her love. It essentially tries to bridge the communication gap between a parted-by-misunderstanding couple who are yet arrested in love with each other. Very nice song for quarreling couples.

Track # 2 is a bit complicated or twisted rather. "Abhi nahin aana" has the flavor of typical "nakhra" of Indian girls. The girl in this song, is asking her lover to come late so that she can spend the longer time daydreaming, blushing herself with imaginations and fantasizing their love and her lover. The lyrics are beautifully interwoven like a garland of pearls. The words are more ethnic sounding and more classically styled, like a raaga. Especially I like this line "Sanmukh apna mukh mat laana".

Third song of this album is a peppy punjaabi folk based rhythmic number called "Aajaa Ve". But wait ! don't wean away. The song has sound lyrics and is no comparison to the chaotic nonsense of bollywood's bhangra music which we are more familiar with. The song has a naughty girl appeal, one which is more synonymous with extrovert tomboys who do not shy away from flirting with boys. Uh hmmm!??

The fourth song of the album is the real gem of this album. Many like me, who have been passing off this girl till now, were forced to change their minds when they heard this one. Its like a storm in a desert. Sadly this is one song that got least airplay on Music Channels (God bless Youtube!). The song is "Tere Ishq Nachaya" , verses by the legendary 18th century sufi poet Bulle Shah, (made familiar to us like naive listeners by Rabbi Shergill's 2005 hit, "Bulla Ki Jaana"). The song is about madness of love, desperation for companion and pain of separation and betrayal. This song has been earlier performed by many, including legendary singers like Abeeda Parveen. But having said that I would give Sona 10/10 for her rendition. Its really an enthralling experience to hear a song like this in a voice like Sona.

The fifth song "Aise Jaagi Re" is a real surprise and also a stream of relief for those who bought the original(over-priced) CD, since it confirms that the rest of the non-videotised songs are not fillers. The song has very Bengali sound, like typical Rabindra Sangeet although the album inlay refers to it as Baul influence. It is really an intoxicating song, especially for us like grown-up-with-rabindra sangeet Bengalis. I personally think that if the lyrics could be altered, it could have become an exceptionally good devotional song for Durga Puja. The song is as if a girl "Devdas" is crying her agonies, wailing for her lost love. I myself being a Bengali, is extremely excited to imagine Sona singing a Rabindra Sangeet some day.

The next song is "Aawaaz". This is a sweet song although not that extra ordinary, but why am I expecting all the songs to be blockbusters? Isn't song writing a tough job? Mean me! anyways the song is about a girl talking to herself, playing hide and seek with her naughty(nothing to do with sex please!) emotions. the song has a humming tune and the long "hm-hm-hm" in the song keeps chiming in your mind long afterward.

The next song "Jai Phulo Re" is an absolute marvel. Complete take off from anything, any cliche's , any genres, any experiment that we have known so far. Another gift for the original CD buyer. This song really makes me proud and guilt free that I spent Rs. 175 on this item. Fully paisa-vasool album. The song has unusually sweet lyrics and the music has a jaggery like natural sweetness. Words like "radha rani" appear in this song which although is supposed to be omnipresent in our cultural and ethnic music but have somewhere lost due to excessive urdutization/punjabization by bollywood music. The song has an antara in Oriya, Sona's mother tongue. This folk emulsified song depicts Radha's despair and anxiety at Krishna's absence. The song fills your mind with images of lord Jagannath, Puri temples and doe-eyed Odissi dancers. Although I always held Oriya culture, dance and architecture with high regards, the Oriya language had always appeared a bit rustic, a bit edgy to me(stop! I am not a tall nosed Bengali chauvinist). But Oriya language could be so sweet, this is the first example I experienced. Hats off to our Oriya sundori.

The next and the last original song on the album is "Sapne". It is a "jhin-chak" kinda song, very rhythmic and pacy. So far I have not been able to appreciate this song, nor have I listened to it patiently(as it usually happens with ending tracks on every album). But one thing I can say that this song is definitely not average one. It talks about dreams and aspirations, their effect on our lives, our thoughts and our learnings.

Track no. 9 is a Remix version of "Bolo Na", remixed by our VJ turned DJ Nikhil Chinappa, DJ Naved, Chris and Zoheb. This song is nothing but a "dhik-chik-dhik-chik" version of its original. Won't pain my fingertips typing more about this filler.

Tenth and the last track on this CD is a Remixed version of "Tere Ishq Nachaya", remixed by Medieval Punditz. The song isn't that great since songs like Tere Ishq are very unfit for remix........according to me. This totally rips off the mild intoxication from the song and tries to inject a narcotic dizzy dizzy sensation to it. The acetic nature of the song is somewhat preserved. The vocals has been re-recorded for this track which I think is a good practice. Much better than the previous dull one. The song is a good pick for "Gaanja Parties" (just joking! I don't endorse marijuana!)

Overall, this album is great, worth its price......... although I opine that Rs 175 is too high price for a music album, given the fact that it came out in those freakin pitch board cases(I hate Sony Music for this cheap innovation, I want jewel case with lofty album art).

Munna Dhiman has done a commendable job as a lyricist. Being the sole lyric writer of this album, his writing style has rendered a thematic feeling to it, extending and embedding his personality as well, in an album whose face is someone else. I prefer this kind of thematic work rather than incorporating haphazardness in the name of variety. The lyrics are not monotonic but has a certain flavor and a good mix of classy and peppy style has been maintained. Nice change from the typical over-sweet bollywoodish lyrics.

Ram Sampath's compositions are great. Obviously when you are composing for your gharwaali, you would naturally put extra effort, else who will cook food and raise kids? The compositions are urban and hip, at the very same time ethnic, meaningful and rooted to our culture.
With so many people contributing so rigorously to this project, this album, although being promoted as a "Solo Artist" CD, is essentially a band product.

Sona's slight nasal tone is very soothing to the ears. As quoted by someone, Sona definitely has an "ancient voice". Listening to her music gives me a feeling of being rocked in a cradle. Disagree? Comment boxes are open(You are allowed to be rude but please spare my parents, no son-of-...... gali is allowed. And also my teachers, religious and ethnic background)

NB: I forgot to mention, the album's graphics, design and layout is great and is carefully done. Sona's make up and get-up is nice.

All videos by the artiste are available here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Album Review : Namee by Ritika Sahni

Namee, Words painted with love
Artiste : Ritika Sahni
Label : Times music
CD Price : Rs 125

Cassete : I don't know, haven't seen any.
Website :

You can by the whole album as mp3 downloads from for Rs 38.00 only
click here!!!

I happened to remember Ms Ritika Sahni from my early teens, a time when India was ripe for music beyond bollywood cliche's. But no sooner, this non-bollywood genre would be itself absorbed into bollywood rendering itself to new set of cliches and then pop singers joining the rows and ranks of bollywood's second class citizens, i.e. "Playback Singer". Ritika was one of the few or many would I say, who perhaps chose not to do so, remained aloof from bollywood music occasionally having sung only two or three of them.

Ritika's debut album on Sony Music

Year 2008, 8 years after launching her debut album, she has came back with her new album called Namee(moistness, humidity) elaborated as Namee-Words painted with love. The album is essentially about love from a woman's point of view. The different emotions and moods a woman goes through once she realizes she is in love. each song is distinct from the other and speaks of different shades of a woman's emotions when she is in love.

The opening track Bheeni Bheeni is an extremely sweet song. The song once heard will not be able to register in our minds which is already rendered numb by bollywood's stereotypical, convoluted and chaotic music. But listening over twice or thrice will send sonorous chimes into thg depth of your mind. The song tells about a girl remembering her first time sweet encounter with love. A young girl having fallen in love trying to discover and interpret the changes having taken place in and around her. The song is literally very mild, very basic maybe intentionally so. The arrangements seems to be very limited and so seems to be the number of instruments, sound effects etc with the drummer's plate being hit repeatedly disallowing you to fall asleep(hey I don't mean boring at all!). I personally think a better reworked enhanced version of this song would have been more marketable. The song's video is also very well shoot with less budget(seems so) and less gadgets. the sepia overlay throughout gives it a coffee-house, jazzy kind of flavor. The use of sitar is simply AWESOME, beyond any words. I personally think Nescafe should pick this song for their ad-jingle, it will fit very well and also more people will come to know about this much deserving album.

The next song More Ghar aao Sajnaa has traditional kinda lyrics juxtaposed against fast paced music. Truly nice, especially a tremendous nice shift from the relaxed mood of bheeni bheeni to that of an anxious desperation. The song depicts the desperation of a woman waiting for her beloved for a long time. The lyrics of this song are written in somewhat less urdutised(bollywoodish), more shuddh hindi way. I liked this change especially the lines, "shan dauru, shan bhagu" etc

Sundar Sundar is a very untypicall song. The song has a very strong north eastern flavor and can amazingly blend with an Assamese Bihu dance act. The song has a folk music appeal as if a country side roaming village girl awaiting love in her life, asks nature, the trees, the wind, the streams, the flowers and birds to route her lover to her or herself to her lover.

Then come's a song called Sayyian Main Ab Huyi Deewani speaking of a girl gone crazy in love. Frankly speaking, I felt this song somewhat kind of a filler and being inherited from bollywoodish themes. But still it is a good song and lyrics are also well woven.

Track number 5 is a cool teenage love song kind of stuff. Jhoome Le, Tu Pyaar Kar is perhaps the most catchy song on this CD It has a switching pattern. The song switches between two very different sounds, one which is sensual, adult-kiddish type and the other being sweet, peppy and kiddish-kiddish type. The song is a very good track to dance along especially the thumbas and percussion make it literally a latino dance song good to be seen with two salsa dancers dancing to its tunes.

Jab Raaho Mein Andhera Chaaye is the next song which speaks of a woman's readiness to absorb her lover's pain, troubles and fate. She is ready to do anything that would stop her lover from collapsing. The girls in the song tries ti instill confidence into her lover boy. The song has a very American country rock flavor, dizzy-dizzy, good to booze along with, understand what I am trying to say, I hope . This is not the song that I would listen to when I am listening to the CD a third or fourth time not because it is not worth it, but because there are better songs in this album and I probably might have less time also (I have so many other CDs to listen to). But one thing I really liked about this song is that it has added to the versatility around a common theme(woman's love) ingrained in this album.

The penultimate song of this album is a soul version of More Ghar Aao Sajnaa, I have not yet patiently listened to this song as I am ethically against repeating songs in an album and that too in one which has only 8 songs (which now makes it a 7 track album). I would rather not write about this for now.

The last song is Oh Piya Mujhe Pyaar Do. The song is a extremely sensuous one with sensuous dialogues(verses, better say)
...............oops! intersecting the songs melody beautifully. The song depicts the emotions of a woman desirous of sensuousness and physical pleasures from her lover-boy. Kind of a taboo in our Indian society, but who cares! The song is a sexy one and could be played while you are making love with your partner, really I bet. It will literally double your pleasures. Especially I like those lines, "Sparsh ka ehsaas do", this really defies the typical don't-touch-me attitude of the Indian girls.

Overall this album is very good and is in no way monotonic. Perhaps the USP of this album is that even though it is based on a common theme, the songs are very distinct, individualistic, flashing a spectrum of colors from a single ray of light. One good thing about this album is that it does not have any song called "Maahi Ve", or any of those repetative Bhangra track. It also does not contain any "yo-yo" hip-hop or raggaeton nonsense(bollywoods new cliche') in its tracks.

So for any reasons you agree and disagree with, go and buy the album. It will most probably be available at the landmark stores or in fact you can even place an order with them, they will bring it to you. Planet M seems to be good only for mobile phones, DVDs, VCD's, VCD players, T-Shirt and bollywood crap.(tomorrow you might be buying washing machines and MDH garam masala also)
Go buy it, listen to it and kindly put comments to my review.............STOP! Please do not start Googling around for a free illegal download. Simply buy this stuff, it is humbly priced at Rs. 125 with Jewel Case(I hate those pitch-board boxes) and a voluminous CD cover with all the lyrics and credits. Although the inlay and cover design are a bit basic (Ritika pehaps needs a good Photoshopper friend. Nobody has cared to smudge off the wrinkles on her face, in the pics at her website. BTW I am available, are you listening Ritika?) but still worth a music lovers collection.
There are also some free stuff at her website. You can go and collect at her official site here.

Last but not the least, Hats off to Ritika for carving out an album and following your heart's desires in a music market which is literally plagued with baniya mentality and utterly unwelcoming to non-bollywood independent musicians. Your album on the stores speaks more of struggle than love, I guess.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Music Channels in India

Since the early nineties, when cable television made a big boom in India, various channels have come and gone. Those who stayed grew from tiny to big to bigger. Among all the dozens of saans-bahu channels, the quota of music channels have always been comparatively small. But still these are the most watched channels per se, as they do not have a lot of programs with “at certain time of the day” schedules. Just look at MTV or channel V or anything else of that sort. Most of us, the random channel surfers, would definitely go through these channels when we sit down in front of the TV. We look out for something interesting, quick entertainment in these channels, which in case if we do not get, jump to another channel and jump and jump and comeback to the same channel. The content being random, so is our channel surfing.

Gone are the days when these music channels used to be our sole source of entertainment and fun. I remember when I was in 10th Grade, I would hardly miss a single episode of MTV Most Wanted. I would stick to the TV like a gecko. But now all such music based shows have been replaced by fashion tips shows, youth sow, hoards of reality tv shows and everything non-musical under the sun.

Musical content of the music channels have been reduced to 30 second to 2 minute long bollywood promos. What a shit! Not even full songs, as these channels do show the full songs until the movie in question has become old enough to lure any more theater-goer.

The spate of music is very bad indeed! And this makes aspiring musicians like us, at an even greater danger. Danger of never ever coming into the scene.

The Who I am NOT

Hello Everyone

By now you have had glimpse of what all this blog is about and what all is me. This blog is intended to be the escape door to my frustrations of being who I am not. I am wailing to have a career in music or lest in any creative business rather than working for an IT firm. Please comment on my lyrics , posts and album reviews.