End of a musical journey - Rewben to make melody in final episode of Dewarists

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By DIPANJAN SINHA
  • Published 17.12.11
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Calcutta, Dec. 16: It was a sunny yet chilly day. Nothing unusual in Shillong. From a cottage in the city floats music that makes one break into dance. Not very unusual here either.

What set the day apart, however, were the two artistes whose chords set the feet of passersby tapping in the musical paradise of Shillong — Naga folk musician Rewben Mashangva and innovator par excellence Raghu Dixit, collaborating for the final episode of the Dewarists on Sunday.

The Dewarists, part travelogue, part music show on Star World, will sign off with flourish with a performance in the city, renowned for its love of music. The show features some of the biggest names from across the globe, such as Grammy award-winning singer Imogen Heap and Indian Ocean among others, and allows them a chance to collaborate with other stalwarts like Vishal-Shekhar, Mohit Chauhan and Shantanu Moitra and create music.

While Guru Rewben Mashangva, performer, songwriter, music researcher and the “King of Naga folk blues” is the principal exponent of Hao music, the Raghu Dixit Project, founded by Raghu Dixit, encourages the amalgamation of the talents of artistes from different cultures.

When Dewarists approached the musicians to perform for the final episode, they were pleasantly surprised. The last time this dynamic duo had got together, they composed and performed onstage as part of the sixth edition of the Roots Festival in 2008.

With all the earnestness of a poet, Rewben Mashangva, says, “I like Raghu. We have so much fun when we perform together.”

Raghu puts forward a perspective that is beyond familiar comprehensions of language, culture or even inspiration.

He highlights the nuances that set the performers apart.

“Rewben and I have no clue about each others’ languages. My attempt is to recreate ancient Kannada poetry and make it relevant for the people of our time. It is about many things in this world that we have started taking for granted and should learn to respect. Rewben’s songs and music come from a very different atmosphere. His songs are a louder call in a conflict-torn place for peace, for life. Way more revolutionary,” Raghu says.

He then points at the bridge between the genres.

“But every time he performs or sings or plays, something within me is happy, an effervescent chord is touched,” he added.

In Shillong, the duo decided to go for a lighthearted, foot-tapping number and the end result was Masti ki Basti.

“We decided to do something that is fun. So the song Masti Ki Basti we composed is all about the celebration of life. It is fun and festive and calls all of us to groove to the tunes of nature,” Rewben said.

Raghu, who is steadily gaining popularity across the country, welcomes the fact that two episodes of the show, which has gained an international following, have been shot in the Northeast — Kaziranga and Shillong.

“It is a very positive sign that two episodes of the show have been shot in the region. I hope this brings to focus the immense musical potential there. I have to admit that we are sort of cut off from this part of our country culturally and emotionally. Despite the huge talent pool rarely do we see bands from the Northeast performing in south India,” Raghu said.

Girish Talwar of Babble Fish Productions, the house which showcased the journey, is spellbound by the beauty of the region.

“There is just so much beauty in the Northeast that we had to come twice. The culture is also encouraging. Everyone there sings or plays instruments. There is so much music all around,” he said.

However, the anticipation for the episode is accompanied by the laments of die hard followers of the show who were captivated by the medley of amazing music.

Nachiketa Parikh, a fan of the show from Gujarat, said, “The Dewarists was a journey through the India we hardly knew existed. A truly musical journey, awaiting a befitting end in Shillong.”