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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fragrance from the North East | Film Festival

Directorate of Film Festivals (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) presents Fragrance from the North East
'Fragrance from the North East' is a three-day festival of cinema from the region in a freshly-refurbished Siri Fort Auditorium complex in New Delhi. To be inaugurated on August 22, 2014 by the Hon’ble Minister for Information & Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar, the festival will be attended by several leading film personalities from the region, including internationally-acclaimed filmmakers Jahnu Barua and Aribam Syam Sharma, and actors Danny Dengzongpa, Seema Biswas, Adil Hussain, Geetanjali Thapa and many more.

When? 22-24th August, 2014 (Friday to Sunday)
Where? Siri Fort Auditorium complex ,New Delhi,
Entry - Free (first come first serve basis)

Photo I D must.
Entry from Gate no 2.
Parking at B-Wing parking area.

Mizo film “Khawnglung Run” (The Raid of Khawnglung) directed & produced by Mapuia Chongthu.
Two National Award winning films of 2014 - Jahnu Barua’s “Ajeyo” (Assamese) and Pradip Kurbah’s “Ri: A Homeland of Uncertainty” (Khasi, Meghalaya).
Prashant Rasaily’s Gurkhali film “Katha”.
Oinam Gautam Singh’s Manipuri film “Phijigee Mani”.
Joseph Pulinthanath’s Kokborok film “Yarwng”.
Ahsan Mujid’s Monpa language film “Sonam”.
From Nagaland, a short film titled “Bamboo Shoots” directed by Steven Ao.
A documentary film titled “Going the Distance” directed by Tiainla Jamir.

Special mention
PAPON and the East-India-Company will perform on August 22 at 5:30 PM.
Classical pianist Nise Meruno’s performance of Naga folk fusion on August 24.
Choir group Nagaland Singing Ambassadors’ rendition of Naga folk-based choir on August 24.

Anuj Kumar Boruah
Young Monk Communications
M: +91 99583 72662

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cycling in North-east - Arunachal Pradesh and Assam by couple from Holland

Eric Schuijt and Carla Tete Hove in Arunachal Pradesh (photo -
Eric Johannes Lourensius Schuijt and his companion Carla ven Tatenhove came all the way from Holland, Netherlands after being attracted to the beauty of India. The couple likes to travel around the world in cycles. Hence, when they heard about North eastern states of India, they planned a visit to the same. For more than two months they cycled through Aruachal Pradesh and Assam. From the heebie-jeebies of Guwahati to the pristine Sela Pass; from the white hills of Tawang to the greens of Kaziranga - this is an adventure of a lifetime. Watch the entire experience of the duo in their 3 travel documentaries below.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Assamese filmmaker makes 'Spotless', film on drug abuse

It takes courage for a young person to take a plunge in film making, that too in a serious subject like “Drug Abuse”. However, courage is something that is in abundance with Assamese filmmaker Naba Kumar Das along with some gritty determination and the confidence to live his dreams. This urge to live his dream may have prompted Naba to risk everything in the short film “Spotless”.

Born to late Uttam Ch Das of Ulubari, Guwahati, Naba has been working in Bahrain since 2010. However, he has always been dreaming of making a film on some serious social issues of the society. Some soul searching and analysis of his own growing up days made Naba select the issue of drug addicts in the society and he along with director Vikramjeet Kashyap conceptualized and eventually made this impressive short film - Spotless.

The story of spotless revolves around Nava, a differently-abled boy who lost his mother at very young age. His struggle with the physical disability was compounded by an unsympathetic step mother and a weak father who loved him but could not show his emotions. Nava tried to get solace in his guitar. As he grew up, his search for mental peace and tranquility lead him to drugs and made him a drug addict. The situation worsens when his parents died in a car accident. He was left alone and even his relatives took advantage of his helplessness and pushed him to a situation where he was left with nothing. Nava eventually gave up in his struggle to fight against all these odds and took his own life.

Brilliantly acted by Naba himself, Nava’s character makes us wonder why an innocent soul has to meet this tragic end. We as general public usually have very strong opinion about drug and drug addicts and do not hesitate to condemn them by strongest of our words. However, we fail to identify the reasons that prompt a completely sane person's addiction towards drugs. This short film makes us think about this issue and it is probably the biggest success of Naba’s effort. Spotless has been screened in Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival and Naba was the joint winner of the best actor award along with the legendary Nasheeruddin Shah.

by Nivedita Dutta

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Assamese teenager Niyar Saikia acts in Hollywood movie - Sold

Niyar Saikia in Sold
Niyar Saikia in Sold

Assamese actress Niyar Saikia acted in the Hollywood film - Sold. The film is a hard-hitting child trafficking drama based on a novel by Patricia McCormick. Sold is directed by Oscar-winning director Jeffrey D Brown. The film is executive Produced by two time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and produced by Jane Charles and Katie Mustard. The script is Written by Joseph Kwong and Jeffrey D. Brown.

The movie was screened for the first time at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 26th. Later it was invited to some of the prestigious film festivals like London Indian Film Festival, Albuquerque Film and Media Experience and the 2014 Asian American International Film Festival.

Based on true stories, SOLD, is the story of 13-year-old Lakshmi who journeys from a pastoral, rural village in Nepal to a gritty brothel/prison called Happiness House in Kolkata, India. The film's main character Lakshmi is portrayed by Guwahati born teenager Niyar Saikia.

A Class IX student of Maria's Public School, Guwahati, Niyar has acted in a number of Assamese films before being picked up for the role of Lakshmi. Niyar was selected for the role after casting director Tess Joseph auditioned more than 1,000 girls in Nepal and India.

About the film Jeffrey D Brown says, "The film is also about a photo­grapher named Sophia, played by Gillian Anderson, who visits India to take pictures of young girls sold into slavery. Gillian Anderson and David Arquette are friends of mine. They came on board before we did any Indian casting. But the key to making the film was always going to be the casting of the girl who would play Lakshmi. We spent six months travelling through Nepal and India, and auditioned more than 1,000 girls before we found Niyar Saikia in Assam. Niyar has a 10-year scholarship from the Indian government to study acting and has already been identified as a talent. Her mum is a singer and her dad is a music composer."

Sold's executive producer Emma Thompson is the president of the Helen Bamber Foundation, which supports women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of human trafficking.

More at - | Watch the trailer on YouTube

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bhupen Hazarika Firingoti Award to Dilip Kumar Dutta and Manoranjan Bordoloi

Tej Hazarika (left) and Dr. Dilip Kumar Dutta (right) | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar

Instituted by Bhupen Hazarika Foundation, the 2014 inaugural Bhupen Hazarika Firingoti Award for Lifetime Achievement was given to writer Dr. Dilip Kumar Dutta for his contributions towards preserving and promoting Assamese culture as well as his works on Dr. Bhupen Hazarika. The award was given away at the Bollywood Musical Night, a tribute ceremony for Manna Dey, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and Jagjit Singh on July 11th in Edison, New Jersey.

Dr. Dutta, a former professor of Mathematics in the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, USA, has written more than 15 Assamese books, which include Dr Bhupen Hazarikar Geet aru Jeevan Rath, Subhadinar Nirghanta, Mane Mur Kaina Bichare, Miss Gauhati, Premat Parilo Neki, Bishnu Prasadar Prasad among others. As a researcher, preserver and promoter of Assamese culture, he has a rare collection of songs of Dr Bhupen Hazarika, Bishnu Prasad Rabha and many other eminent artistes of Assam.

Manoranjan Bordoloi being presented the Firingoti Award for Entrepreneurship by Tej Hazarika (photo: Prasenjit Khanikar)In the same event Manoranjan Bordoloi was conferred the Firingoti Award for Entrepreneurship for his subservient efforts in bridging the gap between Indian and the American communities. He has also been working with cultural and social associations, and staging live shows for diverse communities to foster artistic freedom and mastery of the arts. Bordoloi is the founder of E-Aspire IT, a leading IT service provider based out of Princeton. Bordoloi and his wife Deepshikha Sharma Bordoloi are residents of West Windsor Township in New Jersey, US.

The awards were presented by writer Tej Hazarika, son of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and one of the founding members of the Bhupen Hazarika Foundation. Headquartered in Guwahati, Assam, the foundation was formed with an aim to spread Dr. Hazarika's works across the globe.

Apart from the award function, the event also witnessed performances by the Sattriya Dance Company followed by Rema Lahiri's Bollywood dancers and Papon and East India Company.

Angaraag Mahanta (Papon) at Bollywood Musical Night, Edison, NJ | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar
Angaraag Mahanta (Papon) at Bollywood Musical Night, Edison, NJ | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar

Sattriya Dance Company at Bollywood Musical Night, Edison, NJ | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar
Sattriya Dance Company at Bollywood Musical Night, Edison, NJ | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar
Rema Lahiri and dancers at Bollywood Musical Night, Edison, NJ | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar
Rema Lahiri and dancers at Bollywood Musical Night, Edison, NJ | photo: Prasenjit Khanikar

Friday, July 11, 2014

Neil Nongkynrih - the North-East-India's Chopin

Neil NongkynrihNeil Nongkynrih, also Uncle Neil to his pupils, is an award winning concert pianist from Meghalaya, a state in North-East-India. He is the founder, mentor and conductor of Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC) which won the reality show India's Got Talent in 2010.

Neil was born in Jaiaw Langsning, East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. He did his initial studies in Meghalaya and learnt most of his initial lessons in music from his sister Pauline Warjri, a jazz musician. He was introduced to the works of Mozart, Beethoven and other counterparts of their era by his grand-aunt. Neil is the son of AH Scott Lyngdoh, a former state minister of Meghalaya and the convener of the Meghalaya chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) and Elvirial Nongkynrih.

In 1988 Nongkynrih left for United Kingdom as a young man to study music, against the wishes of his father. He joined Trinity College and later Guildhall School of Music in London to pursue his music in Piano. After passing out as a graduate in music, Neil did numerous shows as a concert pianist in United Kingdom. His first public performance in the UK was in the presence of British Royalty. Apart from the concerts, Nongkynrih was also teaching music in London. One of his many successful pupils is Phillip Selway, member of the popular British band, Radiohead.

In 2001, Nongkynrih returned to India and became a music teacher in Shillong where he converted his residence in Pokseh, an area in Shillong City, to a home music school. In the same year he founded the renowned Shillong Chamber Choir. In the initial years as a choir leader, he found children from villages or from modest backgrounds and trained them in music. His lead singer, Johanan Lyngdoh, is a former drug addict.

Neil Nongkynrih, Kirron Kher & The Shillong Chamber Choir (photo - Deepak Singh)
Shillong Chamber Choir performed for the first time at Pinewood Hotel in Shillong on January 14 and 15, 2001 with an assembling of 25 soloists. There was no turning back after that. The choir mainly plays the pieces from Handel, Bach, Gershwin, Mozart and Neil’s compositions. Apart from the classical stuff, the group also plays Khasi folk songs, popular adaptations of Queen and ABBA as well as choral-style revamps of Hindi film (Bollywood) classics. In 2009, the Shillong Chamber Choir had collaborated with the famed Vienna Orchestra for a couple of concerts in Shillong and Kolkata, a first time in the musical history of North-East India.

The choir group shot to fame after it won the reality talent show, India's Got Talent (Season 2) in October 2010, on Colors TV, part of the Got Talent franchise. The choir participated in the 6th World Choir Games held at Shaoxing China (Shanghai) in July 2010 and was awarded Gold in all three categories - Musica Sacra, Gospel and Popular. The SCC has performed extensively in India and toured Europe, Canada, North America and South East Asia. The choir also performed for US President Barack Obama when he visited India in 2010. SCC has been featured as a study chapter in the English Syllabus of the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) in 2013.

Nongkynrih is presently trying to revive the Khasi language, with a Khasi opera. Neil says, “The voice of north-easterners, especially of the Khasis, has elements of a certain kind of sorrow in it, an unique emotional appeal. It perfectly complements the Khasi folktales which are mostly tragic in nature.”

Honors and accolades

U Tirot Sing Award, 2011
Kalabaaz of the year - Big TV Awards, 2011
2nd ICC North East Excellence Award for Music, 2011
Forbes Person of the Year, 2010
Indian Chamber of Commerce Musician of the Year, 2010
CNN IBN Special Achievement Award for Indian of the Year, 2010
Member, World Choir Council

O Mor Aponaar Dex (state anthem of Assam) - by Neil Nongkynrih, Dipak Sharma and the Shillong Chamber Choir