In its pursuit of discovering hidden talents, Catch recently came across the talented duo of Nitesh Pradhan and Anisha, from Sikkim. The two have formed a local musical band and they gave us a glimpse into the beauty and cultural richness of the land. They also shared insights into the complicated world that the youth of north east India lives in.
Excerpts of the interview with the band:
1. Why did you form your band?
Well, we are both students and have come together for this band because of our common interest, which is music. We have been working very closely with each other, not just to create music but also to fund our work.
2. You fund your music yourselves?
We have to. We have no alternative. However, we are fortunate enough to get some help from others as well. People here are very kind and supportive. Yes, we do need to put in some extra effort to approach the right person to fund us, but once we tell them where the money is going, they give us their monetary support.
3. So, no financial aid from the government?
We don't even feel a part of any government scheme. There's no facility for art whatsoever here, let alone financial policies.
I know a friend who went to the authorities to seek help, and she told me that she was asked for sexual favours instead. This is worse than we can imagine.
4. Is there a plan B or you'll keep funding yourself?
There's this Nepali channel coming up here. We are really looking forward to it. In fact, it has become the only focus for not just us, for other bands as well. We just hope that it starts without any government hurdles.
5. Do you sing in Nepali as well?
Yes, we do. In fact, we go to Nepal to perform. And we always feel more at home there than here, in India. People there are supportive beyond imagination. They appreciate us, motivate us, help us perform better and even tell us where we are lacking.
Most of our music is in either English, Nepali or in the regional language of this place.
6. Do you think that bring unable to sing in Hindi is one of the major deterrents to your growth?
Can you ask the same for Punjabi? Or Marathi, Bengali? Or any South Indian language for that matter? Our regional language is as important for the nation as other regional languages in India are. There are Punjabi and Bhojpuri songs that people go crazy about, even if they don't understand the language.
It's a shame if people don't like our music or us, just because they can't understand our language.
7. Do you think musical TV reality shows help?
The problem with reality shows is that the auditions and tests are organised at rare places around the entire north east area. It takes a lot to travel to those places. Plus, they prefer contestants who can fluently sing in Hindi. All because these are shows on national TV.
8. How do you create a musical piece?
Sometime, we feel sad about something, and then we sit together and think about that problem in a musical manner. Sometimes, when we are all happy and cheerful, we shoot a romantic video, which features feel-good factors like flowers, butterflies, a dance sequence, etc.
I, for one, am inspired a lot by my mother. So, the kind of music she's been teaching me has really helped me.
9. Do you listen to Bollywood music?
Yes, we do. We are proud of the singers from the north east like Zubin (Garg) and Papon, among a few others who have actually made it big in Bollywood. But, not everyone can be as lucky as them.
10. What do you think will help you grow as artists?
First, acknowledgment. Even if you criticise our work, we'll work hard to turn it into appreciation. But, for that you first need to acknowledge our work at least!
Then, the basic facilities. If the government, the Ministry of Culture looks after this part of the country, they can introduce basic aid schemes like scholarships, etc. They can get us good teachers. Or promote our work so that we can get good producers. It is sad that more than brainstorming on our piece of music, we spend our time arguing about where to get funds from!