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Bhangra zing for age-old hymns

How about humming hymns set to fast bhangra beats? Sounds a little off the musical track? But that’s what many Jamshedpur churches will be doing this Christmas.

Old Christian hymns, nearly forgotten by most churches, are set to get a new lease of life, albeit in a remixed form, courtesy a 48-year-old disabled tribal musician.

Lalit Kandulna has convinced some of his ilk to come up with remixed versions of Christian hymns that had been popular for several decades but have become near- extinct in church services. The new-age album has been named Anugraha Ka Singhasan (Throne of Grace) and contains eight old popular Christian hymns like Param pita ki hum stuthi gayen, wohi hain jo bachata humein. It will be released on the eve of Christmas across churches in the steel city. The remixing was done at Jatin Music Studio in Mango with Menos Tigga acting as the music arranger and choir co-ordinator.

“We have used bhangra beats and pop music to give a new sound and feel to the hymns but have not altered the lyrics. We hope that the songs will once again become popular and the Indi-pop-obsessed generation will soon be humming them,” said Kandulna, music director and adviser of the album, who has been bound to the wheelchair after a viral infection.

Lalit had made a name as a guitarist in early 80s before being struck by the infection in 1993 while performing at Rourkela, Odisha.

“I used to play in orchestra across the country and performed at several programmes in Calcutta, New Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Patna and Nainital between 1988 and 1993. During a performance in Rourkela on a chilly December night, I suddenly suffered pain in my legs and body. I was down with cold infection for several days and was treated at Tata Main Hospital. I recovered but my body had become immobile,” Lalit said.

The musician was referred to Apollo Hospital in Chennai the same year, where he was diagnosed with viral myelitis.

“I was bedridden for nearly four months. Gradually, with the help of physiotherapy as advised by doctors, I regained mobility in my hands and the upper portion of my body. However, I could not move my leg and the lower portion,” said Lalit.

Compelled to bid adieu to the stage, Lalit then decided to channelise his talent towards resurrecting Christian music.

“I could not perform on stage and was depressed. However, my mother and wife helped me overcome the trauma and I decided to contribute towards Christian music and started donning the role of music director and adviser for devotional songs. I also formed my own musical group, Tonto, in 1996,” Lalit added.

Tonto has to its credit popular Christian Hindi albums like Agape, Christian, Ed, Jamin (Christmas songs) and God Father.

Vicar-general of Golmuri- based St Joseph Cathedral, Father C.R. Prabhu welcomed the move of remixing Christian hymns to make them appealing to the young generation. “We will get a copy of the album and play it in the church,” said Father Prabhu.

Secretary of Sitaramdera’s Emmanuel Baptist Church, Samuel Mohapatra, also said they would try to play the album during Sunday Mass and also during New Year’s church service.