singer

RIP, Asheem Chakravarty

Indian Ocean’s percussionist and singer, Asheem Chakravarty passed away yesterday after a heart attack. This is truly sad news; Indian Ocean is one of my favorite bands and I have been to many of their concerts. Losing a member of a band as tight-knit and flawless as Indian Ocean is quite a big blow. My heart goes out to Asheem’s family and friends, Sushmit, Rahul, and Amit.

Asheem’s percussion was the backbone of the band, and if you listen carefully you’ll notice that it only stops for one thing — his vocal solos (This is why having 2 percussionists in a band is awesome). My most distinctive memory of Asheem is his solo singing of a sloka that opens a song from the Kandisa album, Khajuraho:
Brahmanandam parama sukhadam kevalam jnanamurtim dvandvaateetam gagana sadrusam tatvamasyadi lakshyam ekam nityam vimala machalam sarvadheesaakshibuutam bhaavaateetam triguna rahitam sadgurum tam namaami.

(Rough translation from here — “I salute to that true teacher who is the source of eternal bliss, supreme happiness, who has true wisdom who is beyond the dualities, who is infinite, whose attention is always on the divine, who is unique, eternal, pure, steady, and who sees with the eyes of wisdom who is beyond thoughts and beyond three faculties.”)

I am thankful for the wonderful rendition of slokas that are thousands of years old into your songs and making this accessible to our “pop-rock” generation. You may not be with us any more, but your voice and your tabla will echo in the universe forever. Rest in peace.

phiraiya dao amarei gaan

Somewhere around 2 years ago, I attended a concert where the famous Bangladeshi rock act Miles played a song called Phiraiya dao amar prem, which in Bangla means "give me back my love" It's hard to believe, but I was witness to a rather spectacular scene: a stadium full of Delhi-ites rocking to the music of a language they did not understand. I turned into an instant fan of Miles, the kind that has all their albums, etc.

Cut to 2004, the world's cleanest music composer does the music for the movie Murder. Along with the hit "Bheegey Hont Terey" there are two more popular songs, "Kaho Na Kaho" and "Jana Jane Jana". When I first heard "Jana Jane Jana", I recognized it immediately, everything from the arrangement to the guitar riffs was identical to the bangla number. I thought Anu Malik had commissioned Miles to render their song in hindi, which meant a big thing for me, since it meant Miles was now getting the attention it deserves.