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Guwahati, April 4
A multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Assamese artiste Angaraag Mahanta, popular as Papon, is oscillating between his independent music and his career in Bollywood. With focus on both, he says Bollywood acts like a support system for independent artistes like him, and helps them reach a wider audience.
“Bollywood is a very big platform in terms of its reach. The reach of your voice and song is immense. If you are doing something other than film music, then it helps support both. You can carry on both as Bollywood helps you push forward other stuff along with it,” Papon, who is credited for reviving interest in folk music from the North East, told IANS over phone.
Apart from carving a special place in Bollywood with his heartwarming tracks like “Jiyein kyun”, “Kyun”, “Zindagi aisi waisi” and “Kaun mera”, he has been a part of TV show “Coke Studio” that aims at bringing the soulful music of India in the forefront and has also doled out Assamese and Hindi albums.
The singer is optimistic that his success story in the Hindi film industry will make people from North East come forward and try their luck in Mumbai.
The singer opened Rongali, a three-day festival, here on Friday with his band East India Company with a performance high on traditional, electronic and accoustic tunes. The crowd was left asking for more.
Papon says that performing in the state has always been welcoming and overwhelming.
"It has been a comfort zone for me as there is an immediate connect with the audience. I always look forward to coming here and playing in front of the audience,” he said.
Talking about the ongoing cultural gala which aims to boost state's tourism, he said: “It is very early to say what impact will the festival have as it is just a beginning. When people come to this kind of two or three day-festival, then they get a sample of everything -- culture, food, craft and art. I hope the festival gets bigger."
North Easterns have faced racial discrimination in different parts of the country, and people from the region have been fighting to overcome the menace. Papon feels that the prejudice exists in society, but needs to be handled smartly.
“I have never faced racial slurs and even if something came my way, I took it in a light manner. There is a definitely a discriminatory kind of look out towards people from North East.
"I don't know why Bollywood and other drama has always depicted Oriental people from the region. There is that mindset, and I think there is a way to go around it and to deal with it smartly,” the singer said.
Music is often used to address problems of the society, but Papon is quick to note that for him, societal issues generate thoughts rather than inspire his music.
“Burning issues of the society don't inspire my music, but are good for thought about music. Something bad about society is not inspiring. Recently, I have been writing songs on social issues that I think need to be discussed,” Papon said.
Globalisation is one of the topic that has compelled Papon to pen a song about how the “local identity and attributes are fading away with multinational companies” and invading the market.
His song “Moh moh ke dhaage” from movie “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” once again struck an emotional chord. His fans have a reason to rejoice as the singer says that there are “many things lined up” on professional front.
“I am working on a Assamese and Hindi album. There are some Bollywood
projects as well. I also want to do some interesting collaboration and
an international act. So I'm thinking about a lot of things, but I'm unsure
about which way to go,” he said.