In an age, when every art form is unraveling the categories that they have been classified into, music stands out (as Moby would say) as the amalgamation of all the variables that contribute to the birth, sustenance, and morphing of a genre.

Parekh and Singh is one of those rare bands of our times whose composition not only translate the solitary human affection to notes but decode the prevailing contrast in lifestyle in the city, Calcutta. To begin with the kind of music they compose, it would be better to say that the music follows no particular genre; it is uninterrupted in its fluency. Jivraj Singh explains that genre is not the most significant aspect when it comes to composing some original content, it is only important to take up a challenge and fulfill it, and reach out to a potential audience.

“Genre is something that the music industry machine would categorize, it is not something that we actively think about. It is not very relevant while composing, it is however more relevant when it gets distributed…We are only interested in making good music and make use of our creative interest.”

The latent human desires have almost always played the leitmotif in the band’s compositions. Sometimes, although the songs are so unambiguous to a listener yet they are more than often interpreted on a personal context. Take for example, the song Philosophize is about a whale who finally gets its song; yet to many listeners it is about the soundtrack that plays while they are dreaming in a subliminal stage.
Listen to the track here:

Jivraj Singh talks about how a song is translated through one perception to the other.

“I think we are interested in using imagination as a tool for living and interaction. It is hard to separate from every aspect of life. The way people perceive music is different from the way we do. Music is a holistic affair, it is the soundtrack for dream, soundtrack to stay wide awake. It is almost like a conversation.”

The band has not only gained its popularity through its music, but a sufficient amount of attention has been given to using the city as the backdrop to their songs. Calcutta stands in its present time, plunging in and out of its colonial history, making the city a medium in itself to travel through the history of the country. The city’s architecture and lifestyle juxtapose at a point to bring out the divergence of its clarity. Jivraj Singh explains the role played by the city in their songs.

“Calcutta is a slow and easy going place. The lack of angst in the city is almost an easy relaxed
comfortable process, we have been under no pressure to compose our music. Also the
aesthetics have only added to our colour schemes. The city is always in sync with the colour
schemes that we explore. It is highly related to the way Calcutta feels.”

Their song Ghost which depicts the story of a girl who is trying to fit back to repetitious life, after
her dog dies, shows an appropriate play of colours and style. Based in the rural outskirts of the
city, the band dress up in well-cut suits, plays an absolute antithetical semblance to the way
they sound.

Technically, music is a form of art which does not have a literal existence. It is only the
manipulation of air molecules which create the rhythm like patterns in our eardrums. Parekh and
Singh maintain a perfect balance between the precision of the song and the emotion it contains-
they truly are an aesthetic piece of art.


At the Vault

” A song is to me what life gives.”

Last night at the Vault, five original composers and India’s very own Bob Dylan came together to pay a tribute, and to contribute to the independent music scene of the city. What came around as an upshot to this was the spawning of the genesis of songwriting.

Tathagata Bhowmik, the former songwriter of Do’s and Don’t’s, was the first one to perform. His compositions were that of fervour, where in most he spoke about the cherishing dwelling of love and its consistent inclination to drop out of sight. Tathagata’s song Clouds White Clouds spoke about the kind of affection which dematerializes itself after a point of time, and soon it cease to exist. Mellifluent with his compositions, they were the perfect blend between dejection and tribulation.

The next act by Ryhaan was nothing less than a pleasant merry making. The youngest performer in the house interfused Rock with Pop to keep the audience up on their toes- didn’t matter if anyone in the house was heavily stewed. His offhand improvisation brought the ambience off-the-cuff. His song which he casually announced to be the C Song might sound to most like a hasty headlong rush to notes, yet the boy was confident and the song sailed clear.

Amartya Ray came up with something absolutely different to offer. “When you add music to your poem it becomes a song.” His songs which deal with the impulsive temperament of the young mind, which often goes through an overflow of distinct emotions- sometimes in love, sometimes wandering beyond the horizon, sometimes only a little sad- probably for the first time in the evening brought the audience together. His song Little Man which is about the promised who still awaits for the day to turn and the dawn to arrive is possibly one of his most illustrious compositions. Amartya later paid a tribute to Leornard Cohen, as he was accompanied by Durjoy to perform the poet’s song Suzanne.

As Lou Majaw had told earlier that evening, “A song is to me what life gives.” Watching him perform was like being extremely young again. The man who is known to have carried on Bob Dylan’s legacy in India supports nothing more than originality in an artist’s performance. For him no one can possibly have time for hatred, ill will and abhorrence if all would only be with music, listen to it, play it, do anything with it. He shared a little bit of himself with us, as he went on to sing for the rest of the night:

“When you’re sad and when you’re lonely
And you haven’t got a friend
Just remember that death is not the end
When you’re standing at the crossroads
That you cannot comprehend
Just remember that death is not the end”.

Last night at the vault, there was a song, there was a thought, there was poetry. Last night at the vault people were happy.

A Song and a Thought

As Bob Dylan would say a song is something that walks by itself. Sometimes it just happens by itself, and maybe, that is why a song can be the most honest expression. A song has forms, it has dialects, it has structure, and it has a method of execution. However, as most songs are sung in their respective regional languages- which for almost all becomes a barrier when communicating among races- one can always decipher a song as a palpable language of its own kind.

“Language has never been a barrier for us.”

Mir Kashif Iqbal, the lead guitarist of Parvaaz, explained that the language of the song might often depend on its purpose. If a song is to walk by itself, that is, if it is supposed to inflect a certain impression solely by the lyrics then probably language might have a bigger role to play than the music. However, oftener a song takes its form on the intermixture of music and lyrics. Parvaaz takes it to a distinctive level where their offbeat variation actually punctuate the common mood. For an instance, their song ‘Behosh’, which talks about the self’s escape from the self and the drudgery of the constant urge to be free of inhibition, begins with the lines: “Meherbaan, khadardaan, wunbusu tayibayaan”, which is in Kashmiri/ pashto. It is immediately followed by the line: “Asaan bilkul nahin tha, khud se peecha chudaana”. The synchronisation between the two languages gives an edge to the core essence of the song.

Check out the song here :

Kashmiri songs are noted for the distinct sound of sarinda, rubae, sarangi and santoor. What makes Parvaaz stand apart from the many other electronically equipped bands is that, they maintain the individuality of those folk instruments through their guitars and drum. Their liveliness offsets the rather paintive melody and accentuates the rhythm. It is most well understood in their song Roz Roz which was written by the revolutionary Kashmiri poet Mahjoor and originally sung by Ghulam Hassan Sofi. The song begins with a trance beat, soon shifting its curve to the local tonal value of Kashmiri song.

Listen to their album Baran here:

Parvaaz can easily be distinguished due to their tendency to obliterate the grey zone between poetry and music.

As said by Kashif: “As kids we read many poems back in school, and they have remained in our subconscious for the longest time. We did not have to look anywhere else, where it came to composing music.”

Poems and songs share the similar pattern of structuring when it comes to verses, refrains and chorus. They give a regular rhythm to the otherwise despodent turmoil of the mind. Parvaaz maintains that regular rhythm throughout in each of their songs without distorting the essential sensitivity of neither of the art forms.

It is almost a privilege to listen to Parvaaz as they completely seem to abide by music as the only moral law. Their songs are like the invincible bridge between communities, revealing an older sense of wisdom and philosophy. They simultaneously work on both the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the self, reflecting physiological consequences.



Being one of the few descendants of the BEAT generation, it is our regular duty to know that politics can be nothing but the ceaseless pursuit of power, and as the Jack of All Trades, it is a necessity for us to interfere and interrupt and disrupt that ceaseless pursuit of power. Yet, at night when the fog sets in and we no more have to bother ourselves with everything that has gone wrong with the world and its leaders, a little grass and some good music brings us back where we had begun-it brings us back to the heart.

On a few such nights, we often listen to Tushar Lall and his cover of a few famous songs. I know it does not sound to be anything different than the usual amateur artists who all suddenly are deemed with the idea to produce all that sells, and not really work their minds towards something else. However, Tushar Lall was different. He had something to offer. He managed to pull the strings together between the contemporary western composers and the classical Indian instruments.

“Indian Jam Project is a platform to depict Indian instruments in a light which is approachable for everyone. The aim is to show people that Indian instruments are versatile and powerful to play anything.” 

Tushar Lall, along with several other artists, gives a different perspective to the background scores of Hollywood films. Although the music might predominantly sound like an Indian version of the western notes, yet the musicians take up the task upon them to highlight the instruments and give their listeners a chance to decipher as to how the instrument is being played and not who is playing it.

“The priority here is the Indian classical instrument, I keep switching the musicians so that everyone can show a different flavor…people should be fascinated by how a sitar is being played rather than who is playing it.”

Tushar Lall interprets the music that he listens to in his own way, and it worth the attention. For an instance, when covering Titanic’s theme song, there was a sudden drift to the Irish band The Corrs’ instrumental Toss the Feather. The transitions in the song are extremely well maintained and smoothly merges one note with the other.

Give it a listen here:

Radiohead, Hans Zimmer, Ustad Zakhir Hussain, Ustad Bismillah Khan, are the few musicians who have inspired Tushar, “it’s mostly a Hollywood score or an Indian classical, I keep switching between these two.”

With Bollywood eating away almost half the audience in the contemporary India, it is quite difficult for the independent musicians to put out their music out their larger platform. However, the audience, especially the youth today, is gradually taking a turn towards independent music.

“I think it’s changing now, but very slowly. People have started listening to a lot of new bands. I think I would love to be a part of that change even if it’s happening slowly.” And Tushar also believes that, no matter how gradually, this audience will stand the test of time.

“I think the audience is always your supporter and they will always be important. I think time won’t be a factor.”

A musician has always played an important role in the social fabric, exactly from the times when the wandering nomads would sing about an invisible Spirit till the modern time when music is simply not a passion but a way of life. Tushar Lall believes that a musician can induce some sort of positivity in the mind of the people.

Tushar Lall is on his way to orchestrating Indian classical instruments, like the hundred artists out there who are trying to hold on to what actually belongs to us. I don’t know if it is a sad situation for the present Indian society or a bravery on the part of those who are trying to safeguard that which already has been there. However, what I can say is that when I listen to the flute or the tabla or the sitar a sense of belonging attaches itself to it. Tushar Lall churns your emotion with the instruments making us realize that we are too busy longing for the outside when home itself has a lot to offer.




There are around a hundred singers in the city, each with thousand words tied together in an unconventional pattern of notes. However, most of the times, these songs go missing when it comes to the popular music scene. Segregated between the popular singers who sing for the big bucks and the singers who write solely for the joy of it, the city of Calcutta has recently seen an upheaval in the independent music scene; and Durjoy Choudhury has a major role to play in it.

Being in the independent music scene for almost 12 years, there can probably be no one better who could tell you about the kind of setbacks that the independent music scene has been facing in the city. There is no money, there is no recognition. The former lead singer of Bee and the Buskers, Durjoy Choudhury took up the initiative to bring to the forefront the musicians who compose their original music and write their own songs. Durjoy  was initially approached by Abhibroto who had told him, “I would like to record you.” Durjoy  came up with something else, “Why would you like to record me when you have the whole city to record?” Friday Night Originals (FNO) came to the city on 4 March 2016, and ever since it has been bringing out the original content of the original artist.

FNO had its initial recordings done at The Imaginarium, Abhibroto’s home studio in Kolkata. In the first season, they brought out several newcomers such as Projjwal Bhattacharya, Abhishu Rakshit, Namrata Nath along with several well-known independent musicians of the city such as Neel Adhikary, Rahul Guha Roy and The Bodhisattwa Trio. Over the next season, they covered artists across the country, from the foothills of Siliguri (MadNug) to the graduate from Berkley College of Music, Boston (Sanjeeta). FNO is probably one of those few initiatives which are absolutely independent in their own terms. “If you have a good song, and very new”, as Durjoy Da would describe it, your song has a chance to reach the audience even when the big bucks are unable to make it. Every season holds 16 slots where the musicians are selected through a demo. There have been times when the established good bands could not make it through the scrutinizing process.

FNO takes no money from the artists it records, nor does it allow any sponsor to dictate its cause. It strictly believes in the quality and the originality of the music. “We don’t judge anybody based on anything. You don’t have to be popular on the scene to get recorded. Whoever you are, if the music is good, we will do everything to help it reach the larger audience.” Durjoy Da, who is quite popular in the city for his own original content did not mind giving up his band to solely concentrate on providing a platform to the independent musicians. “One small sacrifice can always be done for the greater good.”

The FNO team holds members who are dedicated to the fact that the musicians should not sell off their dreams. Now recording from BlooperHouse Studios in Salt Lake, Kolkata, they have covered artists at a wider range. Their latest season, Season 3, has seen popular artists such as Under Ground Authority, Lakkhichara, and The Latination record their popular numbers with them.

Durjoy Da has a song where he says, “I came here just to sell my dreams.” However, on Fridays, he sells dreams of those who have probably not thought of dreaming yet. He sells dreams on a Friday as that seems to be the day more connected to independent music, the day when the weekly responsibilities come to a halt. Durjoy Da takes in nothing but gives out a huge platform to the struggling musicians of the city.

The members of FNO are as follows:

Durjoy Choudhury- Founder, director, editor

Abhibroto Mitra- Co-Founder, sound engineer

Subham Goyal- Business Analyst

Anushree Bhatter, Aditya Chowdhury, Harsh Doshi, Budhaprabha Roy- Cinematographer

Deepank Seth- Asst. sound engineer








Last night as I was heading back home, after bidding farewell to a friend who was leaving for Delhi, I scrolled through the YouTube channel of Friday Night Originals. Amartya Ray’s song Little Man appeared on the very first page, and I began to play the song in continuous loop for about half an hour. And the chorus went as:
“And oh! My Little Man.
Let’s run like the wind while we can
The time maybe gone but it will come again
And fate is such a co-incidence.”

Amartya Ray is one of the Independent musicians of the city. A recent graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Heritage Institue of Technology, Kolkata, Amartya’s journey as a musician probably dates back to his early years back in school where he was pretty much into “Rap music and shit”. “There wasn’t much of a music scene going on in school, you know. However, towards the end of class 11, a new kid enters school. Soon I saw the people around were picking up guitars and playing medley and various other stuff. I too took up the guitar and would play, you know, the very basic chords like C major and G major. It was fun. And in no time, music took over my entire life.”
And that it did. His music, as he would say, has no specific style. At times it has the Dylanian harp hovering over it, at times it inclines more towards Jazz and Blues, and sometimes it is just a few notes and an empty voice. I have been an audience to a few of his performances. And the way his music drifts from the string to the key is almost elevating. You could actually spend an evening listening to the boy’s songs, and I know you will recall quite a lot of what you have left behind.
To be a musician was never a purpose of his life. However, as a kid, he did get introduced to quite a number of the timeless legends, like Pink Floyd, Guns N Roses. “In fact, let me tell you.” he says, “my mother would sing me Hush My Baby, Baby Don’t You Cry, as a lullaby when I was a kid…so…yeah…when Rock takes over the mind, there’s nothing else.” And his song House of Cards reverberates the subtle family ties we all grew up with. Amartya Ray does that, he picks up the usual nothing and gives it a nostalgic resonance.
Like any true musician, Amartya Ray does not have one musician or a particular genre influencing him. Although he does say, “I will honestly tell you, I see Leonard Cohen as a mentor. The man writes so damn well…I mean…he is so great.” The last time I had listened to one of his originals Runaway From the Sun, I was reminded of something by Cohen Hey, That’s Not a Way to Say Goodbye. Amartya Ray sings about all that comes out of the heart. He sings about family, long gone friends, psychotic girlfriends, and mostly he talks about what he feels. “You know, songwriters are extremely intimate people. Like I write…I write what is very personal to me. You know. And I somehow feel that people would somewhere find something similar in my stories. I don’t know, I just tell my stories.”
Amartya Ray’s very first band Whitenoise, quite a popular one in Heritage, was a band of many dimensions. I have heard stories about it when the boys would walk down to their practice arena, and Amartya Ray would walk around and stop in the corners to get the proper sound. Like him, the band too never followed any specific genre. Sometimes there would be heavy breakdowns and sometimes a double-bass drumming. “I could tell you all about it in one breath…my inspirations, what we played, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, I could say it all in one breath.” Other than being an active member of the band, which was like a second family to him, Amartya spends a lot of time playing all by himself. At any emotional moment, happy or sad, he takes up his guitar and strums it all out.
The boy creates his songs through emotions. “I just take a lot of time to think.” He lets his emotions carry him, he lets reason carry his music. He makes sure that he has a good reason behind putting a chord in a place where it is. And the time taken is then well utilized to create something much more transcending. His song What I Need is one of those songs which give you the trigger of your presence. The song simply talks about what someone needs in life; after all only, you know what you need, Amartya only lets you know what he needs.
Amartya is a singer sincere to his songs. If he is satisfied with is work, well that is just “Blowin’ in the Wind…I just do it, I like it. I like music.” is what he will tell you. He goes around with a guitar and a harmonica. He finds weird connections in between lyrics and music, and hence his songs come life. He is currently waiting to play his song Sleeping Gypsy in front of an audience. This wild rover piece talks about a traveler who falls in love with a place and decides to live there for a day more. Yet his quest as a traveler tells him the truth that his life is on the road. “I so want to play this song in front of people, I cannot wait for it.” Maybe someday, just as a traveler, Amartya would play in his dream city Paris. And maybe, one day soon he will be humming his notes in both Bengali and Hindi. It would be quite a treat.

And as I returned home on the last loop of the song Little Man, I realized that my times and my generation is quite a crazy, amazing one. It is heartful, it is insane, and it is so very desirous of everything at one time. It never utters a commonplace thing and yet it suffers from the very common emotions. But the only thin line of difference is that…well, I will only say this, my generation is young and Amartya Ray has it written on his guitar, “All The Children Are Insane.” (Jim Morrison, The End).