Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amit Saigal...Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Amit Saigal resides in my house...and I will tell you how! A poster of Jim Morrsion (this is one of Morrison's best picture I have ever come across) framed in a glass photoframe hangs on one of the corridors of our house. Somewhere on the poster is written Rock Street Journal. This poster was part of a cover story on Morrison in one of the late-nineties issues of Rock Street Journal (RSJ) - which I use to religiously read as a teenager.

RSJ is and will be the soul of Amit Saigal - the evangelist of rock music in India.

I grew up in an age where the Internet was not there. I could only lay my hands on the RSJ - as it was the only source for news and stories on rock music and musicians. While it was great fashion in those days to write the names of rock bands on our school bags, I used to fondly await the arrival of every new issue of RSJ so that I could get the posters of my favourite rock stars and paste in on my room walls.

I remember having visited Amit's residence in Hauz Khas, Delhi with my friend, Meema, around 8 years back. Amit was a good host and spent a good deal of time with us passionately talking about his Great India Rock concerts. His house breathed music, just as he walked and talked music - as he introduced us to his several musician guests. I have always felt that these genuine rock aficionados have this rock thing going on in them - you could make out from their mannerisms which are natural but true to a rocker..Amit was one of them...a true rocker but modest.

It was just in November last year that I saw this man in almost-shoulder length hair in a long black kurta and black trousers, walking to have a paan in Prince Paan in GK 1 M Block. I went and re-introduced myself and it was a pleasure talking to him. He told me about those many rock concerts that he is organising and that he is getting many bands from the North East to come to to the forefront. There was a certain sense of calmness and also accomplishment in his eyes that I could recall of my last meeting with him, as we had a brief chat that afternoon.

I have always had a high regard for Amit Saigal - who in a very novel manner took up the responsibility as an entreprenuer to provide Indians a worthy magazine on rock music to read. From a small magazine that started out from Allahabad, Amit Saigal and RSJ came brands in themselves over the years. Under the RSJ banner, we have seen some great live music by bands from India and abroad, in what Amit started - the Great India Rock concert and the Pub Rock concert.

Amit, as I write this to pay You my tributes, You remember of these lines from Pink Floyd's song...

"Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond..."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bhupen Da...the Global Gypsy

And you thought it was only Thomas L. Friedman who gave a new shine to Globalisation in 2005? Many, many years before 2005 - when Dr Bhupen Hazarika sang - "Moi Eti Jajabor" to His audience in Assam, it carried strong traces of Globalisation: names of global rivers and cities in one Assamese song. The song with its lines...(in English) "I am a gypsy...from Brahmaputra, through Mississippi I have seen Volga. From Ottowa, through Austria I embraced Paris.

That was not the only song that had the ubiquitous 'global' element and an 'universal' spirit in Bhupen Da's music. Right from His ode to Nelson Mandela to inspiring Bangladesh's liberation war - everything about Bhupen Da's music was true globalisation in form and spirit.

I feel Bhupen Da somehow epitomises certain characteristics of the Beat Generation of the 50s and the Hippies of the 60s. Just like the Beats and the Hippies, His messaging was anti-war, peace, love and universal brotherhood.

As You arrive on Your final journey at Your homeland today, I thank You for showing the world, all these years, the best of Assamese, but global music. At the same time, Your music stands as the biggest credible identity for Assam and I take great pride in being an Assamese because of You.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nothing Else DNA Networks

Move over, Metallica, you only thought The Who created a rampage on stage? Your organisers - DNA Networks got a taste of their inefficiency in handling a concert – in what could be dubbed as a ‘Black Friday’ for the organisers, when your loyal fans laid a siege on the stage - where you were to perform.

Guess you were too busy attending a national TV press conference in town, as was announced by the organisers, to notice all this and you maybe you thought it was uncharacteristic of a Big 4 rock-band to send an apology to your waiting fans who stood outside the venue since noon – braving the organiser’s inefficiency and mismanagement.

Definitely, the organisers did not know how to break the news but were smart enough to pack off most of the equipments and leaving the audience without any clue as to what was happening. The organisers just plainly called off the concert citing ‘technical’ reason and obviously, without any apology.

Metallica, you deserve some better announcers on stage instead of people who make complete fools of themselves by making frantic announcements, such as “I need you to take two giant steps backwards” and “Please sit down”. How on earth am I supposed to sit and watch a Mettalica concert, for Hetfield’s sake!

I care less about what the Press has to write on how rowdy the crowd was. Only if DNA Networks could explain the following, coz coughing up (literally also with the dust around) Rs.2750/- for a ticket I did not deserve this:

· Where were the policemen when the rowdy crowd took siege of the stage? This explains lack in security
· How come no barricading was done at the entrances? Due to this, the organisers could not manage the rush at the entrances which almost resulted in a stampede. There were many, many cases where spectators complained of suffocation (including me) and I saw a few people having fainted
· Ticket-checking was a farce, as the organisers and a few private security personnel could not manage the rush of the crowd and could hardly check any tickets
· There were no ambulances or paramedics staff in sight – both at the entrances and inside the venue
· It took an hour for the organisers to strengthen the barricade to withstand the huge crowd presence – after the barricade fell. Why did the organisers not put up a strong barricade initially and only realised the folly after the barricade gave away?
· Even after it was announced that the concert was cancelled, it took a good 30 minutes for the exit gates to open – which caused further angst in the audience.
· In spite of having a huge car parking space, there was no man-management in the parking area, thereby leading to traffic snarls

I just wish none of the above inconveniences is repeated by the organisers at Bengaluru and also that they refund the ticket money to the Delhi crowd

And Metallica, you deserve some better event managers in India. Definitely not DNA Networks – coz Nothing Else Matters to them!