Papon goes national on musical movement - Assam singer to feature this Sunday on Star World programme, creating tunes in the Kaziranga

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  • Published 18.11.11

Calcutta, Nov. 17: Assam music’s poster boy Angaraag Papon Mahanta will be grabbing prime time national attention on a Star World show where he matches Bodo and Rabha tunes with Rabbi Shergill’s Punjabi notes in the Kaziranga wilds.

The Dewarists, a show that weds music documentary with travelogue, is giving a group of renowned musicians, singers and composers a rare opportunity to travel and weave varied notes into their creations.

It features some of the biggest names from across the globe, such as Grammy award-winning singer Imogen Heap and folk band Indian Ocean among others, and allows contestants a chance to collaborate with stalwarts like Vishal-Shekhar, Mohit Chauhan and Shantanu Moitra.

This Sunday (November 20), at 8pm, Papon, as he is popularly known in the music circuit, will juxtapose traditional instruments and folk music of Assam with Punjabi tunes of Rabbi Shergill (of the Bulla ki jaana main kaun fame) among the lush greens of Kaziranga National Park, to create an original number infused with Sufi elements and the “smell of the land”.

In an interaction with The Telegraph, Papon spoke about his unique experience and what it means for music in the region:

On The Dewarists and Rabbi Shergill:

It was a great experience. We created a song sitting in a forest, with the sounds that harmonised with the forest. The fact that we both believe that God is Nature provided us with the apt inspiration.

On significance of the show for Assam:

It is very important. This show is of the highest standard ever produced in India. Dewarists is purely about music and the freedom of expression through this art form. In the song we create in this episode I start in Assamese before I sing in Hindi. It is all about how Assam is, how we live in close communion with nature.

On the location:

We shot the video in Kaziranga. In fact, this video has a unique distinction of shifting the focus from the rhinos there. As the The Dewarists is a show of only 10 episodes, with collaborations from top Indian and international artistes shot in selected parts of the country, I am really happy we could showcase Assam. I think it is a big deal. You will know when you see the video. I don’t think Assam has been presented in this way to the world before.

On local instruments and particular forms of folk music used:

I used the bamboo flute, playing a mix of Rabha and Bodo tunes merging with Xattriya.

On what shows like these mean to young talents in the Northeast:

I believe it means a lot to hold on to your roots and present its beauty to the world. It is a matter of pride and satisfaction. This show would encourage young people who love their land and culture.

On his music and how it emanates from his land:

I love to put Assam on the world map again and again with the love, culture, emotions and music of the land. I got two nominations in the best folk album category in the recent GIMA awards this year. This proves how strong our music is just the way it has passed on for thousands of years. The two albums were Gomseng, a purely traditional Bihu album and Phagunar Gaan, an album on the Holi geets of Borpeta.

On upcoming projects:

I am collaborating with a wonderful Scottish artiste, Rachel, and renowned percussionist Bickram Ghosh this December. This is sponsored by the British Council which wants us to make an album touring the festivals in the UK next summer. There I want to incorporate Assamese tunes. Besides that, my first Hindi album on which I have been working for a decade is getting released in December worldwide.