|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, July 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
A heady cultural extravaganza
Hardeep’s debut in world of pop
IF I say " I told you so", I do so not with professional glee, but with a tinge of sadness, because what I had described as a case of media overkill even before the summit started, rose to an alarming crescendo while it was on and, as foretold, came down with a bang to earth.
HISTORY is witness to the fact that the Indian urban came to the forefront of ancient civilisation much earlier than his global contemporaries: Sumerian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and perhaps Phoenicians too. The Indus valley residents acquainted us with the concept of urban lifestyle, as we understand it today.
heady cultural extravaganza
THE local Panjab University auditorium was metamorphosed into mini Himachal Pradesh recently, when Himachalis living in Chandigarh and its neighbouring satellite townships — Mohali and Panchkula — converged on it to witness an exciting cultural extravaganza of folk songs and dances of the state. The host was the local Himachal Mahasabha, an apolitical association of Himachalis, which is actively engaged in the preservation, and promotion of their rich cultural heritage, besides doing multifarious social welfare activities. The occasion to host this cultural soiree was its eighth annual function.
The heady cultural extravaganza went off with the Ma Saraswati ‘vandana’ by Surindra Devi, followed by a melodious Pahari folk tune on the flute by Madan Kumar, extending a red carpet welcome to the guest of honour, the Governor. The soulful rendering of a popular folk song — an ode to the gorgeous, green hills — virtually transported the discernible audience into the sylvan surroundings of Himachal Pradesh, away from the madding din of cities. Close on the heels came the haunting popular Gaddi folk songs, Mere laal Bhora o, appu chaleya naukri, gharein balak yanas o... by Suman Rana and Pushpa Rana, who were quite apt and articulate at handling the guiding theme. This popular folk song beautifully depicted the pangs of young hill women’s long stints of separation from their husbands, who go places to eke out a living.
In the Chamba segment of this hill heartland, the immortal love legend of Phulmo-Ranjhu is very popular. Folk songs reliving the rare saga of their pure love for each other still reverberate in the hills and dales of Chamba. The theme was welldefined in the dulcet voices of Aarti and Roshan Lal Sharma in Guarayein puchharuein, Phulmo kajo jhakdi, Jhakan kajo maardi, Ik hath butne da la’ o Phulmo, gullan hoyee beetiyan... which the discernible audience relished with moist eyes.
The emotionally charged audience was in for a small welcome breather, when Madan Kumar came up with yet another haunting folk number on the flute, Kathu tere ghar, kuthu baar vo Ramdaseeye.... The audience simply swayed in sheer excitement while he went on weaving a web of divine melody. Another emotive folk number, Horna taan patna iko-ik beri ji iko-ik beri, Chambe patne do beriyan... belted out in the baritone yet well-modulated voice by Vinod Kumar and Roshan Lal Sharma. The folk song beautifully depicted the hardships of hardy highlanders who still have to resort to the outmoded means to cross a river or a rivulet by ferries to reach a chartered destination. The song is very popular in the Kangra valley.
Soon it was time for the Pahari poetry recitation. Bimla Kapila read out Asan ikk..., Bhatia Chhoti bhabhi... and Radha Sharma, a prolific poetess of the region, Mera to jeevan marusthal hai..., a Hindi composition, which evoked admiration from one and all.
Then it was a never-ending stream of Pahari numbers, which spontaneously flowed in one after the other. To name a few were Rajiv Kumar’s Terricot da silai de kala soot, bole teri chhoti bhabhi... and Bharti’s Nikkre pankhru, uchchi udaan....
Pushpa Rana and Suman Rana’s Bhala sipahiya faujia, chhuti leyi gharein aayee ja, rutt’o jawani di... Ruchika and party presented a vibrant gidha which synchronised well with the Pahari "bolian". Scintillating folk dances to the tunes of audio cassettes by Chander Dipika, a TV artiste, Baby Garima, Akanksha, Anju and Bhanu proved a virtual visual treat to the weary eyes.
The hilarious Punjabi skit "Pani" (water), laced with dollops of sardonic humour, was enacted by Jasbir Singh Jassi and others which added more excitement to the endearing cultural extravaganza.
Glowing tributes were paid to Kargil hero Saurabh Kalia. The heroic saga of the supreme sacrifice made by this son of the soil was relived by Rajiv Sakri in his Pahari lyrical composition, Suna’o loko Saurabh di kahani ho, deshe pichche diti kurvani ho.... A soulful parting number, Rassa-vasa’ve loko asan pardesi o bande, asan pardesi’o bande, rehnde nadiya de kande, saadi jandi vari di salaam le-lo ji... by the Rana duo marked the colourful finale to the memorable cultural programme.
Hardeep’s debut in world of pop
AFTER nearly two decades as a successful Punjabi folk singer, Hardeep is now set to enter the world of pop music. His potential having been spotted by pop music wizard Jawahar Wattal during a recent performance in Delhi, this votary of folk music is working on a pop album with the composer who has given a break to artistes like Daler Mehndi, Baba Sehgal, Karran Jasbir, Shankar Sahney, Hema Sardesai and Bhupi. Recording for the album is currently on and negotiations with music companies are underway.
Hardeep is not a novice in the field of music. He has already brought out many albums, eight of which have been hits in Punjab. Notable among these are "Chandigarh Shehar Di Kudi", "Ishq Di Balle Balle", "Saiyon Ni Mera Dil Le Gaya" and "Munde Gabroo Punjabi". He has over 3,500 stage shows to his credit in India, the USA, Canada, England, Germany and Australia.
A former national hockey player, this folk artiste has been greatly influenced by the style of Gurdas Mann. A modest and sober person, he emphasises the importance of folk music. He believes that Punjabi folk music has the flavour of Punjabi culture which is a source of inspiration.
Son of a retired Army officer, he has been performing on stage since his first nite in Chandigarh on September 14, 1982. An artiste who can break into song impromptu, he has never charged anything for performing for students. He claims that he will continue to perform free for students even if he becomes a star and challenges other singers to do so.
Having performed for Punjabi audiences in many countries, he says these people settled abroad are thrilled whenever they get a chance to listen to songs which remind them of their homeland. His popularity has been limited to the Punjabi community as cable channels have only recently started operations in the country, with the result that he has not had much media exposure outside Punjab.
In his opinion, rhythm draws the youth towards pop music. He asserts that most of the pop numbers are based on folk music and whatever is a hit is termed as pop. He disagrees that his entry into the world of pop music will cause a drop in his popularity among listeners of Punjabi folk.
According to him, presentation holds the key in the pop arena. Light Punjabi numbers are what he goes in for. He favours lyrics which do not offend anyone and videos which can be enjoyed with the family. Success has not turned his head and this down-to-earth singer still sticks to his routine of practice and exercise.
Hardeep has also rendered one song for the Punjabi film "Jigre Jattan De". He will like to record more songs for movies if given a chance and has his eyes set on greater heights. His desire now is to be recognised in whichever country he goes and his songs to be aired on international television channels.
IF I say " I told you so", I do so not with professional glee, but with a tinge of sadness, because what I had described as a case of media overkill even before the summit started, rose to an alarming crescendo while it was on and, as foretold, came down with a bang to earth. The worst hit was the ordinary viewer in India and in Pakistan as well as those who had important stakes in the successful outcome of the summit, not least of all the suffering Kashmiris reeling under violence, and the relatives of those POWs whom Pakistan denies holding in their jails. Perhaps, the last word came from the religious head of the dargah at Ajmer Sharif, who said that the Sufi saint (to whom folk from all religions go for a boon) only calls those whom he chooses. Perhaps, this was an omen for the President of Pakistan.
The media as villain has already been picked from both sides, whether it was Sushma Swaraj or, as the General, in true military fashion, jumping the gun for a PR exercise over his live TV breakfast show with Indian editors, without informing the Indian hosts it was to be telecast live. These, after all, are political issues. What concerns this column more are the professional issues. True, with 24-hour channels competing furiously, the only channel which did not even try being Doordarshan, there was bound to be reckless speculation, a race to get there first and an eagerness to get the best panels.
I can say without any hesitation that the most professional channel on all counts was Star News. Which was due to three solid reasons: Superior leadership and coordination, superior reportage and superior contacts. Its reporting scored both quantitatively and qualitatively. Whether it was at Rajghat or the haveli, a quick sound-byte from the media centre, Star was there much before other channels. Sadly, in their eagerness to be first some rivals made the most frightful boo-boos. Zee said Musharraf was eating snacks inside the haveli when he had not even arrived. Star News had a formidable array of correspondents operating from outside Delhi and Agra, local correspondents in tandem with headquarters-based ones.
Star News scored hands down with panels, with a formidable blend of top media professionals from Pakistan and India who stayed put throughout, instead of playing musical chairs with the old regulars, as other channels did. Aaj Tak was also very quick off the mark with outside reporting on many occasions, such as the General’s departure. The rapport and professional sophistication of both the Indian and Pakistani commentators was moving as well as stimulating, with one or two notable exceptions from the Pakistani side, and I regret they were women. Anchor Shireen (I apologise for missing her second name) from Islamabad, was positively spiteful and offensive on the day the General arrived in Delhi. She kept on harping on something visually disproved that the Indian cameras were keeping off the Indian PM, so he must be a very sick man. She seemed unaware of the PM’s major operation on his knee days before. Then she grumbled that DD had sabotaged their live coverage unlike the more dignified panelists, including a General who rightly suspected a technical hitch, and had to eat her words at the end saying only the opening was missed. Then I found Nazim Zehra, full of sound and fury, dragging down the debate to the shrill bazaar levels totally out of place on TV and rudely preventing others from talking. Luckily, there was an abundance of civilised colleagues from across the border to compensate.
Lastly, the bureaucratic Government of India clearly lost the TV PR battle, whatever their belated explanations about protocol. Our PR was hesitant, amateurish and always late. Put bluntly, poor, obviously inexperienced and nervous Nirupama Rao with her constraints was obviously no match for the likes of Qureishi and co, least of all Musharraf. If someone with the legal finesse and telegenic qualities of Arun Jaitley had been pitched against them, we would have won hands down and hang the protocol. This was a TV PR war and we lost it. We simply must win next time.
ART & CULTURE
HISTORY is witness to the fact that the Indian urban came to the forefront of ancient civilisation much earlier than his global contemporaries: Sumerian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and perhaps Phoenicians too. The Indus valley residents acquainted us with the concept of urban lifestyle, as we understand it today. After all they were the ones who provided us with the first models of a well-planned city. From then on we, as a race of educated and evolved beings, have come a long way, but to what avail? It is our misfortune that we have in a short span of a 1,000 years ruined our ancient legacy of a good, hygienic and advanced lifestyle.
Indians were the trendsetters back then in almost all fields of human activity. However, now we go out of our way to ape other societies and are comfortable with being followers and not leaders!
Swami Vivekananda has aptly described the dilemma that Indians often find themselves in. He says: "On one side ranks materialism, plentitude of fortune, accumulation of gigantic power, and intense sense pursuits ....on the other one hears in low yet unmistakable accents...the search for the Self."
Man’s inherent weakness for desiring more and procuring it at any cost — be it loss of human and a natural life — has landed him in the modern concrete jungles where he is embroiled in a state of confusion and self-destruction. Contentment, satisfaction with one’s self, a balanced outlook towards life appear strange ideas to many of us today. This hurry to reach for the sky, to possess every purchaseable comfort and to maintain one’s sanity in the midst of this mad race has had a disastrous effect on the urban Indian. We have got lost in this mad rush as if there is no tomorrow!
Disregard for environment and self-destruction in the name of progress have become the hallmark of the urban man. Greed for material gains and overweening ambition have driven these urbanised and civilised beings to play havoc with their heritage. We need not look to a far to see the repercussions of this rapid decline. Frequent earthquakes, floods, droughts and extinction of a variety of species from the earth’s flora and fauna are perhaps the most vocal examples of irresponsible and mindless destruction by the modern man.