Living Root Bridges of Mawlynnong | Featured Travelogue

Timothy Allen talks about his journey to Mawlynnong in Megahalaya. Read More

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and Meghalaya | Featured Article

Ankur Deka writes about Bhupen Hazarika's love towards culture and tradition of the people of Meghalaya. Read More

Tetseo Sisters of Nagaland | Featured Interview

The Tetseo Sisters caught up with Jim Ankan Deka and spoke about their music. Read More

Friday, June 5, 2015

Antara Nandy - the teen sensation of Assam

Antara Nandy
Antara Nandy is a singer from Guwahati, Assam. She is known for becoming one of the top three finalists in the national music talent show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs-2009' conducted by Zee TV. She is the recipient of the 'Young Achievers Award 2014' conferred on her by the Integrated Council for Socio Economic Progress, Kolkata. She was also the winner of Dream Catchers' (Singapore) 'Star Wars Award 2012'.  She was nominated for 'Ramdhenu Music Awards' in the Best Female Singer category in 2013.

Born on December 11, 1999, in the Sivasagar district of Assam, Antara is the first of two children of Animesh Nandy and Jui Nandy. She gave her first major public performance at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata at the age of 9 years. She started her training under Padmashree Ustaad Raashid Khan at the age of 5 years.

Antara released her debut album 'Ei Jibon Nohoy Xuna Bondhu' (this is not life my friend) in 2010 when she was just 11 years old. She collaborated with renowned singers like Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Pulak Banerjee, Debojit Saha, Luna Bharali Das and Debajit Choudhury in the album. The album was produced by Dr. Amal Saikia of Encore Entertainments. Her second album 'Eso Matoh Lakkhi Devi' (a Bengali devotional album) with Bollywood playback singer Raghav Chatterjee raced up the charts to become the TOP 4 album within 3 weeks of its release in Kolkata. She had sung Borgeet and bihu songs in other collaborative albums.

In 2012 Antara collaborated with Award winning Assamese musician Jim Ankan Deka on a campaign against violence towards women. The duo along with Assamese singer Queen Hazarika and playback singer Ritwika Bhattacharya released a music video 'Awaaz - speak up against sexual violence', where Nandy raised her voice against child sexual abuse. The song was produced by Bangalore bast Eastern Fare Music Foundation and the video was directed by Parmita Borah. The video won several awards in various music and film festivals including Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival, Noida International Film Festival, Global Music Awards and Hollywood Shorts Reel.

Antara Nandy and AR RahmanIn 2013, she sang two songs 'Police Babu' and 'Najanu' for Hengul Theatre. Najanu was nominated for 'Ramdhenu Music Awards 2013' in the Best Female Singer category.

Antara also sang in quite a few films in Gujrati, Tamil, Bengali and Assamese languages. The most notable among them is 'Nixati Joto Ronge' from the Assamese film 'KHEL- the Game'. She had recorded a number of theme and title songs for various Bangla TV seriels which were aired on Star Ananda, ETV Bangla and other channels.

Antara shot to fame with her entry into the finals of 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs 2009', a music reality and talent show conducted by the Zee TV, which proved to be the stepping stone of her life. She was praised and appreciated by the judges of the event which includes singers and musicians like Asha Bhosle, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Shaan, Daler Mehendi, Preetam, Alka Yagnik and Abhijeet.

In June, 2015, Antara released her first Assamese music video Aakaxok Subo Khojo composed by Jim Ankan Deka which is a part of the musical series 'ChaiTunes' produced by Eastern Fare Music Foundation, and a concept created by Music Malt, Bangalore. Noted Assamese songwriter Raj Dweep penned down the lyrics. Directed by Parmita Borah, the video was shot by Nishal Lama at Innerspace Studios, Bangalore.

Antara is a CCRT Scholar (Centre for Cultural Talent Reserch by Government of India). She is the winner of All India Inter School Classical Vocal Contest held in Noida in 2015. She is at present a student of ITC Sangeet Research Academy where she is taking training under Ustaad Wasim Ahmed Khan. She is also currently been trained for Western classical vocals at KM Music Conservatory under the guidance of A. R. Rahman. Antara is the youngest singer and ambassador of the famed 'Alive India In Concert-I', Bangalore which was a movement started by the few like minded musicians for the musicians. She is at present a student of Delhi Public School.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bidyut Chakravarty - a great cultural activist

Bidyut Chakravarty (1960-2015)

Bidyut Chakravarty (1960-2015) - was a national award winning Assamese filmmaker and actor. He was known for his films like Raag-Birag, Dwaar, Nishiddha Nodi, Goon Goon Ganey Ganey, etc. He bagged the Indira Gandhi award for Best First Film of a Director in 1996 for his film "Rag-Birag.

Born in Guwahati on January 1, 1960, Chakravarty began his career as a child actor in the film Mukuta. Later, he appeared in a small role in Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s “Anirban” in 1981. Chakravarty’s maiden directorial venture was a tele-film, titled Kukurnechia Manuh – based on a stage play by eminent playwright Arun Sarma – produced by Guwahati Doordarshan Kendra in 1985.

In 1996, he made his debut as a feature film director with Raag-Birag, which was also the inaugural film in Indian Panorama Section at the International Film Festival of India in 1997. The film was based on a novel written by Jnanpith award-winner Mamoni Raisom Goswami. Considered as a milestone in Assamese cinema, Raag-Birag brought Chakraborty the Indira Gandhi Award (Golden Lotus Award for Best Film) (Swarna Kamal) at the National Film Festival in 1996. The film went on to bag national awards in three other categories, including the Indira Gandhi National Award for Best First Film of a Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editor. Besides, the movie earned rave reviews when it was screened at the Cairo Film Festival as an official entry. It also won as many as nine Assam State Film Awards instituted for the first time by the State government in 1998.

Some of his other acclaimed movies are Nishiddha Nodi, Goon Goon Ganey Ganey, Anurag and 30 October based on the serial bomb blasts that took place in Assam in 2008.

Dwaar, a film directed by Chakravarty bagged four awards in Assam State Film Awards in 2012 as well as six awards in Prag Cine Awards 2013. The film also won the Filmfare Award for Best Film as well as Best Actor Male and Best Actor Female in 2013. The film is based on a shot story by Swarnakamal winning film critic Apurba Sharma.

Misti Cheler Dustu Buddhi is one of the Bengali films produced by Chakravarty.

Besides direction, Chakravarty also carved a niche for himself in the field of acting. He acted in a number of movies, including Grahan, Prabhati Pakhir Gaan, Haladhar, Ramdhenu and TRP, besides putting up a commendable performance in stage plays like Mritunjoy, Antaranga Alap and Bhoy among others.

A founder member of Surjya Club, a socio-cultural organisation set up in 1985, he actively participated in initiatives to bail out the ailing Assamese film industry. He also served as a jury member of the National Awards.

Chakravarty passed away at 7 AM on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at Nemcare Hospital in Bhangagarh, Guwahati, after suffering a cerebral strok. He left behind his wife and mother.
"Apart from being an actor and director both on stage and films, the dynamism and the vision he had was a little different from his era (the eighties). This uniqueness reflects in his films and personality." - Satyakee D'Com Bhuyan, founder-director of theatre group D'Passion Collective and a member of Surjya Club.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Padma Awards for North-east Indian personalities

Six prominent people from the northeast were conferred with the Padma awards 2015. While Multiple National Award-winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua was named for the Padma Bhushan award, environment activist Jadav Payeng from Assam, along with Lakshmi Nandan Bora, an established name in Assamese literature, Manipur's medicine expert Sarungbam Bimola Kumari Devi, Meghalaya-based musician Neil Herbert Nongkynrih, and social worker H. Thegtse Rinpoche from Arunachal Pradesh were chosen for Padma Shri.

The awards were presented by President Pranab Mukherjee at the majestic Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Awarded by the Government of India, Padma Bhushan is the third highest and Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian awards.

Jahnu Barua receiving Padma Bhushan award from President Pranab Mukherjee
Jahnu Barua receiving Padma Bhushan award from President Pranab Mukherjee

Jadav Payeng receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee
Jadav Payeng receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee

Sarungbam Bimola Kumari Devi receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee
Sarungbam Bimola Kumari Devi receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee

Neil Nongkynrih receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee
Neil Nongkynrih receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee

H Thegtse Rinpoche receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee
H Thegtse Rinpoche receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee

Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee
Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora receiving the Padma Shri award from President Pranab Mukherjee

Photo courtesy: Facebook page of President of India

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Indra Bania - the actor with a voice

Indra Bania
Indra Baniya (1942-2015)

Indra Bania (1942-2015) - was an Assamese film and theatre actor and film-maker from North Lakhimpur in Assam. He was known for his performances in award winning films like Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai, Agnisnaan and Haladhar. His performance in Jahnu Barua’s Halodhiya Choraiye Baodhan Khai earned him the Silver Leopard Best Actor’s award at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland in 1988. The film had also won the Swarna-kamal award for the best film in 1988.

Bania was born at Dhalpur village in North Lakhimpur on December 24, 1942. After completing his primary education, in 1958, he came to Guwahati for higher education. It was then that he chose to make Guwahati his home. He started to earn a living through popular comedy shows on the stage, performing across the state especially during the Rongali Bihu festival. After completing his studies, he worked at Assam State Electricity Board till he was retired in 2002. He had resided in several parts of the city like Silpukhuri, Chandmari and Jyotinagar. He was married to Minu Bania.

Indra BaniaBania has been a household name in Assam as well as North East India in the field of drama since the 1960s. A regular artiste with All India Radio, Guwahati since 1964, he grabbed the limelight by playing the lead male role in ‘Gobardhan Charit’ in the 1970s. Bania’s histrionics is fondly remembered for his unforgettable performance in the two acclaimed plays Govardhan Charit and Moinar Sangbad.

Indra Bania had acted in more than 40 Assamese films in a screen career spanning over four decades. he had also directed a few award-winning films besides acting in films and TV serials. He is the first Assamese to bag the Silver Leopard for his role in the film Halodhia Soraie Baodhan Khai. He brilliantly portrayed the protagonist in a short film in 2007, Freedom at the Edge, a film on Machang Lalung, a poor tribal from Silchang in Assam who was confined in a prison for 54 years without any trial. The film bagged an award at the recent Boston International Film Festival.

In 2010, Bania was honoured with the Natasurya Phani Sarma Award by the Assam Government for his stellar contribution towards Assamese cinema and theatre. Filmmaker Jahnu Baruah describes the actor as persevering, self-sacrificing and committed to his work.

Some of the notable films of Indra Bania - "Agnisnaan" in 1985, "Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai" in 1987, "Haladhar" (played the role of moneylender) in 1992, "Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence" (played the role of sardar) in 2001 and "Aai Kot Nai (Maa)" in 2008.

Indra Bania died on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 10:25 PM at Hayat Hospital in Guwahati, Assam, following prolonged illness.
“The standard of living has gone up manifold. What disturbs me is the unhealthy growth of materialism, which has robbed the city of its innocence. The growing western influence among the youths is eating into our tradition and culture. There is a mad craze for materialistic things among the youths, which is not a healthy sign for our society.” - Indra Bania
Minu Bania and Indra Bania
Minu Bania and Indra Bania

Friday, March 20, 2015

Queen Hazarika - a voice to reckon with

Queen Hazarika 

Queen Hazarika is an Assamese musician, actress and playback singer from Guwahati. She was born on October 16, 1976, in Lakhimpur, a small town in Assam to Raj Hazarika and Usha Gogoi Hazarika. One of the four children of the Hazarika family, she debuted on the professional music scene in 1996 with her first album Abhiman.

Queen went to St. Mary's High School in North-Lakhimpur and later graduated from Handique Girl's College in Guwahati. She developed interest in different art forms like music and acting from a very early age and gave her first stage performance at the age of four.

As a vocalist, Queen has performed live through the length and breadth of India which includes places like Assam, Delhi, Gurgaon, Kolkata and Mahabalipuram. She has sung for Assamese films like Mon, Suren Suror Putek and Sneh Bandhan and a handful of VCD films. She has sung in Assamese, English, Bengali, Awadhi and Kannada languages.

Queen has also lent her voice to numerous documentaries produced by Doordarshan, All India Radio and UNICEF among others. Apart from this, she also hosted multiple TV shows for Assamese channels like DY365, NE TV and News Live. During this time, Queen received her first acting offer in Assamese film from the film director Pradyut Kumar Deka in 2012 after he saw her performing at DY365. Queen has acted in films like Surjasta and Avataran.

Queen had also worked with different companies simultaneously. She joined ICICI Lombard as Operations Manager in 2005 and later served as Assistant Branch Service Manager at Reliance Life. In 2008, Queen joined Vodafone India as Training Manager and was later promoted to Zonal CS Head. She was a regular columnist at Eastern Chronicles. While she was busy with corporate life, acting and music, Queen got married and two of her children - Mahin and Caillou were born.

So far Queen has worked with a myriad of artists and musicians like Sher Choudhury, Partha Pratim Choudhury, Aniruddha Baruah, Manash Hazarika, Poran Borkotoky, Zubeen Garg and Jim Ankan Deka. She was nominated for Prag Cine Awards in the Best Female Playback category in 2013. One of her collaborative works with Antara Nandy (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa finalist), Ritwika Bhattacharya (playback singer) and Jim Ankan Deka - 'Aawaz - speak up against sexual violence' - won many prestigious awards at different film and music festivals around the world.

A mother of two, a corporate professional, and an artist - Queen Hazarika  is one of those people who have done it all!
As an actor (films)
Surjasta (Assamese)
Avataran (Assamese)
As a playback singer (films)
Mon (Assamese)
Sneh Bandhan (Assamese)
Suren Suror Putek (Assamese)
Akash Suboloi Mon (Assamese)
TV shows
Dil Ka Connection (NE TV)
Your Request Our Pleasure (NE TV)
Songs on Demand (NE TV)
Good Life (News Live)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mayukh Hazarika - the frontman of the Brahmaputra Balladeers

Mayukh Hazarika (photo: Manoj Sagolsem, Facebook

Born to the famous and illustrious family of several gifted artistes and doyens of Assam’s musical world - the Hazarika gharana - Mayukh Hazarika (ময়ুখ হাজৰিকা) is a playback singer and music director. He is the frontman of the Delhi based band Mayukh Hazarika and the Brahmaputra Balladeers. He is the son of legendary Assamese musician duo Jayanta Hazarika and Manisha Hazarika and nephew of Dr Bhupen Hazarika.

Mayukh Hazarika, also fondly known as Raja, was born in Guwahati, Assam on 13 January, 1971. He is the only son of musician duo. He was only seven years old when he lost his father. His mother taught him to sing from a very early age. He had learnt and started singing all the immortal songs with the same depth of feeling and sincerity that his father once sang and became famous for.

Hazarika did his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Khanapara and later studied at University of Delhi. He completed his post graduation from IIM Indore. After passing out from IIM, Hazarika joined as Head of Camera at NDTV Lifestyle in 2007. Simultaneously, he was performing as a singer at various concerts in India and all around the world along with his wife and singer Laili Dutta Hazarika and mother Manisha Hazarika.

Since 2005, Hazarika has released several albums, performed extensively within India as well as abroad before vast range of audiences. Some of his songs have received wide acclaim in Assam and have found a special place for their meaning, lyrical variety and melody. He shot into fame with his album 'Sokue Jodi Kotha Koy' which was released on February 5, 2009 and was promoted by Bharti Airtel. Before this, he had been engaged in singing cover versions of Jayanta Hazarika and Bhupen Hazarika’s hit songs. Although Hazarika embodies his father’s cherubic voice, but has skillfully managed to create his own signature style overtime.

On November 8, 2014, Hazarika launched his band 'Mayukh Hazarika and the Brahmaputra Balladeers'. Apart from him, the band comprises of four other members. Although the members of the band term their band as genre-free, the music of the band is a blend of folk-blues, rock and funk.
Mayukh Hazarika Albums
Shilongare Godhuli (2002)
Sokue Jodi Kotha Koy (2009)
Monor Maram (2012)
Assamese Modern Songs (2012)
All Time Greats Jayanta Hazarika (2012)
Anuradha (2012)[12]
Assomor Chirajugamiya Geet (2012)

One can contact Mayukh Hazarika at