Rocking Cyberspace

Music never stops at being just a muse, what follows is a well-thought-out, complex process of learning, practising, composing, improvising and finally convincing the audience that your music is worth listening. The musicians of Generation Now are no longer daunted by the challenges in opting for a career in music, thanks to the multitude of opportunities created by films, television, FM, advertising, internet and the like. In the past couple of years, internet has emerged as a powerful medium for aspiring musicians to promote their work in front of oodles of music loving audience across the globe.

It came as a pleasant surprise to discover an ascending eruditeness of the World Wide Web among a significant percentage of Assamese citizenry, irrespective of demographics. Apart from the regular stopovers at the social networking junctions and blogs by Assamese people; Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace and Yahoo Groups are some of the spaces that I frequent. My heartiest thanks to people like Luit Chaliha and Bipul Jyoti Saikia for leveraging the internet to herald the rich cultural heritage that the greens of Assam have churned. Bipul Jyoti Sakia’s Homepage collates biographies, interviews and works of a myriad of literary bards of the state. Luit Chaliha’s channel on YouTube ‘luitchannel’ is like a sunken treasure, an assortment of some of the rarest and most melodious songs the music and film fraternity of Assam has created.

The musical space was also dominated by a bouquet of well-known as well as upcoming musicians who have diligently optimized the usage of the cyberspace to endorse the finer notes of Assam.

Angaraag Papon Mahanta

Papon a.k.a Angaraag Mahanta’s claim to fame was definitely his kinship to legendary musicians Khagen Mahanta and Archana Mahanta. But the real reason for the success of this frizzy haired folklorist lies in the way he has implemented innovation into his ethnic roots giving forth to an eccentric yet appealing genre — Folktonics — a merger of folk tunes and electronic beats. Apart from composing jingles and tracks for many ads and films (including The Last Monk), Papon has been in the news for his band East India Company’ the name indicating a musical invasion. His mellow voice accompanied by the soulful melodies of his band members (Brin, electronics; Krishna, guitar; Kirti and Diphu, drums and bass) have taken him places.

East India Company’s compositions are some of the most sought after numbers on sites like YouTube and MySpace. Papon also has a huge fan following in Facebook and Orkut.

Jim Ankan Deka

Nicknamed ‘Jim Morrison’ by his friends and fans, for his curly hairdo, Jim Ankan not only resembles Morrison in his aphrodisiacal looks, but also shares the same ardor for music. Jim plucked the string for the first time at an early age of three and has never felt the necessity to find solace in anything but music. He drew his inspiration from the chimes and chants of the naamghar close to his Pubsarania residence in Guwahati and composed music for a folk album Goalporia Lokageet while he was still a teenager. This was followed by many vernacular albums. In the year 2008, he initiated a musical sorority called ‘Eastern Fare Music Foundation’ in Bengaluru (Bangalore), which today has turned into avant-garde music institute housing over a thousand students.

Jim Ankan remained one of the most popular keyword searches in 2009 and his jazz fusion band ‘Veenar’ with noted Carnatic vocalist Suchetan Rangaswamy has fetched widespread appreciation in MySpace.

Kalpana Patowary

The powerhouse vocalist set the stage on fire when she hit some orotund notes on the sets of NDTV Imagine’s Junoon Kuch Kar Dikhane Ka. Kalpana had been taking Assamese and Bhojpuri folk songs to various corners of India for more than a decade and Junoon Kuch... was simply the perfect platform for her to attain nationwide recognition. Her journey, however, didn’t end there. This Assamese daughter went to sing some popular numbers in Bollywood films like Billo Barber staring Shah Rukh Khan and Irrfan Khan.

She recently made another demonstration of her musical genius with the brilliance of her performance at Blue Frog Studios in Mumbai with music maestro Trilok Gurtu. Kalpana’s songs and MP3s have been downloaded incessantly, while her large fan base in Orkut and Facebook speaks volumes about her popularity.

Zublee Baruah

She has barely lived a quarter of her life and has already begun rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of music industry. Zublee Barua’s penchant for music began at the early age of three when she heard her mother hum lullabies. She began her formal training in Hindustani classical from the age of eight and soon earned herself a Visharad degree.

She has rendered her vocals in Assamese films including Ranangini and Joonda Emman Goonda and Bihu albums such as Tora 2006, Tora 2007, Joontora, Ringa Ringa Mon, Soru Phool and Kolija. Her solo album Pranipat is a tribute to the late Jayanta Hazarika. Zublee has also anchored the musical show Saaz (NE Hi-Fi) — an exclusive show on musicians in Assam. In 1997, Zublee was awarded the Nabin Surya Award for the best female singer of Assam.

Her duets like Tumi jana ne with Zubeen Garg and O Mur Jaan with Debojit Saha have celebrated thousands of jubilees on YouTube, while her singles like O’ Lord and Janma continue scaling greater heights of popularity on the internet.

Zubeen Garg

This music virtuoso of consummate skill needs no introduction. Perhaps every Assamese has followed his musical sojourn to the last detail. Zubeen Garg stepped into professional music scene in 1992, with his debut album Anamika which became an instant hit in entire northeast India and redefined Assamese musical landscape for the coming 21st century. His nationwide fame and recognition was fostered by the immensely popular number Ya Ali (Gangster) followed by his Hindi album Zindagi. He has sung more than 9,000 songs in various languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Punjabi, Oriya, Bengali, Marathi, Nepali, and many others. In 2005, Zubeen won the coveted National Award for his musical score in the Assamese film Dinabandhu.

In the league for internet recognition, Zubeen has not remained behind either. His videos on YouTube posted by his diehard fans have had multitudinous hits while his MP3 downloads are ever increasing in number.

Parmita Borah

(Previously published in The Assam Tribune)