ARTS TRIBUNE Friday, June 23, 2000, Chandigarh, India

Back with a bang
By Mohit Goswami
FTER a two-year hiatus, Bhupi Chawla is back with his second album, “Wallah Wallah.” For a person who has not been trained in music, it is a meteoric rise. He was nominated for the Channel V Best New Artiste Award in 1998 for his debut album, “Jogiya Khalli Balli.”



by Amita Malik


by Suparna Saraswati


by ASC






Back with a bang
By Mohit Goswami

AFTER a two-year hiatus, Bhupi Chawla is back with his second album, “Wallah Wallah.” For a person who has not been trained in music, it is a meteoric rise. He was nominated for the Channel V Best New Artiste Award in 1998 for his debut album, “Jogiya Khalli Balli.”

He had not thought of music, his hobby, as his career early on. The younger son of Prakash Singh Chawla, a former national cycling champion, he was an excellent sportsman in his formative years. He was the captain of the Delhi hockey team and was poised to stake his claim for a place in the Indian team. But fate willed otherwise.

A knee injury during a friendly match abroad gave a crushing blow to his dream to represent his country in hockey. His desire to emulate his father and to win glory for his country was blown to smithereens. But this Delhiite was made of sterner stuff.

In 1988, Bhupi participated in an all-India music contest. He stood before the maestros in the music world as they waited expectantly for this new face to display his abilities. About 30 minutes later, the hall was resounding with applause as the audience was dazzled by his performance. He was presented the Best Singer Award by the Vice-President of India.

It was now that Bhupi thought that it was time to take music seriously. He decided to pursue his hobby as his career. To polish his voice, he received training in Indian classical music of the Rampur gharana. For six years, he practised for 8 to 9 hours daily.

He began his journey in the music world by singing cover versions of songs originally rendered by Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey. Four cassettes of his were released by T-Series. Still he was only a small name in the music firmament.

This upcoming singer was poised for a giant leap in 1997. His talent drew the attention of Jawahar Wattal. This composer had given the pop scene in India stars like Daler Mehndi, Shweta Shetty, Ila Arun and Shubha Mudgal. He now showed his willingness to do an album with Bhupi. The result of their association was “Jogiya Khalli Balli.”

Released by Magnasound, the album firmly placed Bhupi on the Punjabi pop scene. He spent the next few months performing with his band in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai, London, Rome, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Jersey and Washington. He also performed for Channel V and MTV in their nationwide road shows, which were a great hit.

Despite being a celebrity, Bhupi is a down-to-earth man. He is quite modest and straightforward in his approach. He hopes to take his voice to the maximum audiences across the globe. Striving to achieve his goal, he has kept his feet firmly on the ground. The latest offering from Bhupi, “Wallah Wallah,” has already hit the market and has received rave reviews. The eight songs in this album have been composed by Wattal. As usual, the king of Indi-pop has come up with foot-tapping numbers.


Mumbai is not Calcutta or Srinagar
by Amita Malik

IT is on record that India is perhaps the only country in the world where the cinema, instead of retreating on the birth of TV, made TV its willing slave. True, Mumbai and its siblings of the commercial cinema in the South are powerful media for mass entertainment but for TV to adopt the cinema as its staple diet led to several casualties, not least of all the abortion of genuine TV drama, which is getting more and more stereotyped day by day.

This hero worship of the commercial cinema has further led to the enslavement of TV by Mumbai’s stars to such an extent, that no regional TV event can take place, at least in the North and East regions of India, without a plane load of Mumbai’s guys and dolls descending on the local scene, at enormous expense and then dominating the inaugural proceedings.

One would have thought that private TV channels would be above such folly. But the recent inaugural ceremony of the TARA Bangla Channel in Calcutta saw a ridiculous situation where the VVIP row was usurped by stars, starlets, minor journalists and socialites from Mumbai all flown down and housed in a five-star hotel, while only two Bengalis, Aparna Sen and Ajit Panja (not even mentioned by the anchor) were present. Not one Bengali author, cinema celebrity, theatre personality, musician or artist (with the exception of painter Paritosh Sen in a back row) was present. It was Hamlet without the prince. Calcutta was not amused and not remotely interested in Shobha De’s views on Bengali TV.

And now, it was Kashmir’s turn. Some months ago, the then Minister for information and Broadcasting, Mr Pramod Mahajan, also flew down a plane-load of Mumbai’s leg-shakers and hip wigglers to light up the Dal Lake and it did not escape public notice and criticism that the tamasha was produced by the Minister’s son (all properly paid for, we were told, although no one told us if he would have got the contract from DD if he had not been the minister’s son). So when a few days ago, the new Minister was up in Kashmir to inaugurate the much-awaited Kashmir Channel of DD (to be reinforced by predictable entertainment of the usual variety from some private channels) one expected something different at the inauguration. But no, it was again the indispensable Amitabh Bachchan (he was also in Calcutta as “Bengal’s Jamai” as the simpering anchor told us) with the even more usual complement of hip-wigglers and leg-shakers from Mumbai but of the lesser kind if this was to counter Pakistani propaganda, they might just as well have flown in Hritik Roshan, the Pak teenagers’ current favourite and be done with it.

Because what the viewer got and saw was an audience sitting so far behind the VVIPs, for security reasons, that their claps, if any, were not audible and the mercifully brief speeches by the I and B. Minister, the Governor, and the Chief Minister received claps only from themselves. But what viewers from all over the country were looking forward to, and presumably Kashmiris from both sides of the border, the best of Kashmiri culture, hardly got a look-in. No wonder that one outraged letter in the columns of a national daily, expressed it all, the triviality of the Mumbai items in such a serious context, and the waste of public money. For those media watchers who have been clamouring for such a channel to counter vicious but better transmitted Pakistani propaganda, hardly countered by the dull fare, poorly transmitted and received which is all that the Kashmiri got so far, the question will remain: After Amitabh, what?

I have space for only two out of several items watched during the week. The transplant of Aamir Raza’s Kargil epic from stage to screen on DD1 was enlivened by the personal experiences of these soldiers who took Taloling with such bravery. But I hardly think that Bande Mataram fitted in as a war chant. Also, DD’s Lazeez Khana, out of a plethora of incredibly poorly presented programmes on cookery on the small screen, did not gain by Seema Chandra’s smudged lipstick, tossing of the head, rolling of the eyes, and the camera focussing on her face instead of the the Karhai at crucial moments. Using the term “sugar syrup” instead of sheera in a Hindi programme, and not specifying the quantities of ingredients did seem a bit odd.




All for art and art for them
by Suparna Saraswati

A HIGHLY “perceptive selection” of their most contemporary works was displayed at the Alliance Francaise Art Gallery Chandigarh, during the exhibition “Visualising intangible forms of life”. The artists, namely Brahm Prakash, Diwan Manna, Malkit Singh, Shiv Singh and Viren Tanwar, have experimented and familiarised themselves gradually with a spectrum of varied media. A cross-section of them exhibit sculpture, watercolours, oil paintings, graphics, installations, three-dimensional paintings, theatre, photography, documentary films as well as computer graphics. However, the individuality of their work has not deterred any of them from continuing their shared commitment towards sensitising human growth for art and aesthetics.

The undulating graph of life has been mysteriously captured by each of these well-established artists in their respective unique manner, which is irrevocably sound and depictive in its visual presentation. Their deep-seated regard for artistic pursuit has effectively resulted in their creating a school of combined art forms. Interesting, the language of art finds a new dimension when it travels from one talent to another in this group of five.

A fine blend of the apparent and the intended comes across in its own undefined way in each artist’s creation. For Brahm Parkash, specialising in printmaking; “the medium has an impersonality, or objectivity of effect, which has been appealing by its very intrinsic nature”. With the subtlety of pastels through the image of transparency his work draws cerebral viewership in a realm of “visual truths implicit in rapidly changing environment”.

Photo artist Diwan Manna transports the existing to the eventuality of death. Each frame encompasses the sensual form of the given subject with tremendous depth and artistic finesse. The circularity of his lens depicts the anatomical boldness of human farce in “golden browns, transient blues and deadly greens”. “Through Waking the Dead”, Diwan attempts to provoke innermost apprehensions on the ultimate finality of life.

Malkit Singh’s artistic perceptions deal with the brutality of the existing life forms. Over the years this eco-friendly artist has decided upon “a medium that suits his spontaneous urge to explore the possibilities of the visual presentation of a theme, situation or an idea in abstract or not so abstract images”. His is a constant path of creative innovations for the new and happening, done either in oil or computer graphic images. Essentially a ruralite, Malkit celebrates the positivity of life as a whole and capsules it in his work with a vibrancy of colours.

For the Chairman of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Academy, Shiv Singh, art gets communicated through “seminal contact with nature”. His creative instincts are perpetuated in his affinity towards natural concerns. Whether it is the “open form Brass” installation or the cosmic appearance image of a flowering bud, the artist renders completeness to his art forms.

As for the fifth element of this art core, artist Viren Tanwar exposes the harshness of today’s living in his collection of paintings, “Roots of Humanity”. Commenting on his recent work, Viren contemplates by stating, “life to me is like a circus. Each one of us is an acrobat attempting constantly to meet and create new challenges”. These paintings also reflect a spiritual elevation of a commoner’s mind while being caught in the maze of routine mundane activities. The image of the girl threading a needle while balancing on two inverted bottles, exemplifies the artist’s positive disposition that “all is never lost”. Viren continues to be rooted in his artistic determination of cleansing the society of its “Maili Chaadar” through his paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations.

A weeklong sojourn with the works of these artists is bound to have left art appreciators of the city desiring for more. After all, satisfying the artistic palates of an aesthetically sensitive audience is by no means a small accomplishment.



Sweet but conventional
by ASC

REFUGEE (HMV): J.P. Dutta may say a million times that he has only made a film and not a launch vehicle for Abhishek Bachchan, but that is exactly what it is. Ditto for Kareena Kapoor. When so many careers hinge on one film, just about everything has to be perfect about it. Well, the film is yet to hit the screens but as far as the music is concerned, it is not exactly surefire hit stuff.

To be sure, Anu Malik has not pandered to the lower stall for once. Many of his creations are quite sweet as well, but these are perhaps too conventional to appeal to the current tastes.

Sonu Nigam is yet to evolve a pet style and that helps him in singing various songs in varied ways. He has four here and his voice is more than good in all of them. Alka Yagnik has done even better in three duets she has with him. In fact, she goes quite close to Lata in Aisa lagta hai …

Lyrics are typical Javed Akhtar with the usual literary flourishes. In fact, Mere humsafar … (Alka, Sonu) is semi-classical and so unlike a film song.

But depend on Anu Malik to spoil everything with his unabashed tune-lifting. Jise tu na mila ... borrows too much from A.R.Rehman’s “Dil Se” and it is impossible to enjoy it with a straight face. Otherwise, it is a nice sufiana song sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Shankar Mahadevan.

TANHA DIL (VIRGIN): The initial songs that Shaan rendered were so amateurish that he could not receive any serious notice. But now that he has become more careful about his career he is being better appreciated. In this cassette one does not help noticing that his voice reminds one of Lucky Ali. At times he shows even more talent.

His mistake though is to use his own lyrics. These are not too bad but not good either. With better wordings, he could have hit upon a winner.

Of the eight songs, four have been composed by Shaan himself while the other four are by Ram Sampath, who is also the arranger, programmer and engineer. Tujh sa na koi … also features Caliche and has rap by Bob Bobcat.

Shaan se … is almost a copy of the title song from an old film of the same name and is perhaps included as an ego boost for the singer.

HOYA AKH DA ISHARA (HMV): HMV has jumped onto the Punjabi bandwagon rather late but now that it has taken the plunge, it is going great oars. The man who seems to have filled them in on the advantage of this territory is Jawahar Wattal who has star discoveries like Daler Mehndi to his credit.

The artiste he has presented this time is Maninder Mahi. But the voice of this particular singer does not seem suited for the pop culture. He sings typical Punjabi songs in a rustic manner, although the music is quite fast.

Lyrics are by Mahi himself and Jeewan Jeet Kaur. Music has been directed by Jawahar Wattal.Top