Kalpana Patowary is a hugely popular film playback and folk Singer from Sorbhog, Barpeta, Assam. She is a disciple of the great Ustad Gulam Mustafa Khan and much-influenced by the bard of Brahmaputra, Bhupen Hazarika. Kalpana is the first-ever Indian female singer to sing and record the Chhapriya vocal style of Purvi folk music, till then a preserve of closed male dominated circles. She sings in 30 different languages but interestingly, Bhojpuri music is her forte, where she is undisputedly the best-selling artiste of the Bhojpuri cinema.
A musical prodigy she trained in Kamrupiya and Goalporiya Assamese Folk Music under her loving father Sri Bipin Patowary - a distinguished Folk Singer himself, honing her incredible 5-octave voice and mastering various forms of Bhojpuri Traditional and Folk, ranging from Purvi, Pachra, Kajri, Sohar, Vivaah, Geet, Chaitra, Nautanki, etc.
Kalpana is a graduate in English Literature from Cotton College, Assam and Visharad in Indian Classical Music from Bhatkhande Music Institute University, Lucknow. She started performing at the age of four holding on to her father’s hand. Since then she has been a regular feature at the Doordarshan Kendra in Guwahati, Assam, as well as a regular artist on All India Radio (AIR) Yuba Bani in Guwahati, Assam from 1992.
She came to Mumbai in 2001, initially singing jingles and remixes. In 2003 she cut an album for T-Series, Gawanwa Leja Rajaji, which went on to become the biggest selling album of the year. The 2005 super-hit Bhojpuri film, Sasura Bada Paisawala, helped Kalpana to establish herself in the Bhojpuri film industry and she has not looked backed since then. In 2008, her participation in the reality show, Junoon - Kuchh Kar Dikhaane Ka, on NDTV Imagine, brought her into the national limelight.
Besides delivering hit Bhojpuri songs, Kalpana, with her raw-powerful voice she has also been carving a niche for herself in Bollywood, having rendered her voice in Hindi in a number of Bollywood films including Welcome, Billu, Begum Jaan and R. Rajkumar.
In 2012 Kalpana Potawary was signed by EMI/Virgin, UK, to record her album, The Legacy Of Bhikhari Thakur, which pays tribute to Bhikhari Thakur, the legendary Indian Playwright, Lyricist, Actor, Folk Dancer, Folk Singer and Social Activist, also known as The Shakespeare Of Bhojpuri. The album is based on the theme of migration and separation of families due to male family members leaving home to earn a living, a recurrent theme in Bhojpuri music. There’s a large Diaspora of migrants from Bihar and UP not only within India but also around the world. To her credit the album was nominated for the ‘Best Folk Album’ in the non-film music category at the Global Indian Music Academy (GIMA) awards during 2013.
Kalpana has peformed at the MTV Coke Studio during 2014–2015 demonstrating the age-old traditions of Khadi Birha, besides various stages in India and abroad promoting Folk and Bhojpuri music on international platforms. In May Kalpana performed for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the Dhola-Sadiya bridge, India’s longest, which was named after legendary Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika. She has won numerous State and film awards and performed across the world including Europe, the Caribbean Islands, UK, US and South America.
Following are excerpts from an exclusive interview with Kalpana Patowary, in which the acclaimed singer speaks to Pradeep Joseph, about her Bhojpuri connect, folk music and her musical journey:
How do you like being called the Bhojpuri Queen?
Actually in the very first place “I am not a Bihari from Bihar” but the most-interesting thing is that, “the people of Bihar are in my heart and I am in their heart”…“Bihar ke log mere Kalpana ke prem mein hai and Kalpana bhi Bihar ke prem mein hai”,
But the physical thing and the geographically thing is not there…the Culture of Bihar from the yester-year Patika, Ambika, Maithali are the existing forms. Maithli is the Spiritual (Pavitra) form, I gained all experience as I continued working with the Bhopuri world. I wanted to sing for the Purvanchal gayaki – but - I am from Assam from Uttar Purvanchal.
When I commenced working on Bhopuri music, it neither happened in Bihar nor in Uttar Pradesh but in Mumbai…I started doing shows I started interacting with the actual Bihar and Biharis - they approached me as Rani Rani Rani so I wondered what they meant by Rani?
In the village on one hand it was so very good musicians and singers who were singing Bhajans and Kirtans and on the other hand the others who delivered the hard-core Femininity in them rendering their Feminine sexual (erotic) desires…I do not know what Rani I fit into now.
I have sung in say 30 languages. I sang in Kannada. I do sing in all styles – Dakshin, Uttar, Purab, Paschim,
I rendered the Lok Sangeet like what I am going to sing now in Bhojpuri wherein Assamiya Kalpana Bihariyon ko represent kar rahe hai…I was seen in my Dakshin Bharatiya film Lankesh Patrika based on the ….. I think I present and represent that unity and diversity…So, I think I am that Rani who addresses Rani in her renditions.
Assamiya Kalpana Bihar mein represent kiya gaya hai.
No MUSIC festivals but the year dedicated to Women?
With any Woman the story is the same and all one, from a girl to a daughter to a bride…I was part of Vogage, a folk fusion band, and even now I am a part of it…I remember meeting Atul Churamani at that point of time…
Bhojpuri is still innocent, it has not got its language hold, Assam has over 8 to 10 languages like I have Nari Shakti, I wish with Bhojpuri I will deliver, so I composed a song-track called Sohar for Paddy Fields…Sohar is sung when a new child is born, but my Sohar theme is a mother and pregnant mother expecting and carrying a child, speaks to her child she is carrying.
Paddy Fields is taking a very big risk by diverting from commercial music to regional forms, Bhikhari Thakur is like a “Shakespeare of Bhojpuri”, with no TRP content…I need a lot of funds (in terms of investment) and support – so – I think I’m taking a big risk at this point of time.
Your views on Women Empowerment.
I wish today my Music delivers a message through my renditions by entertainment. Sorry to say we say we are modern but it’s not so cause even today a Woman has no say… if you look at the emotional turmoil…Shakti Manifest is the name of the society…I go to interior regions and tell all daughters and mothers most-especially…I tell them I am a Bhojpuri Singer and I have my own studio and my own place in Bombay - so - do come over and sing out your talent…Women Empowerment is all what I believe in.
Any songs on Women Empowerment?
Janam se le ke marang , Islam mein, Kabir ek Banarasi has a folk form,
Female body (dead body) aurat ka dulhan ka roop uska atma and parmatma
line …… qui tori sakhi……
chandan ka tak
banal aka tolana
Kaban from Assam in Mongolian touch I have recorded
Ganga Behti Hai Koun
Yeh ek Milan hai
The three best women-oriented songs?
Kauno Tagva na lootal ho
Ganaga Behti Hoon Kyon
Bhikari Thakurji ka Behti Becchu, a song from those olden times.
Are you a women’s activist?
When I came to Mumbai in 2001, my age was different and my point of view of looking at things were different but now its much-deep-rooted, I am known as an Item Queen…I sang when I was just 4 years old along with my Father – a Folk Singer – I used to hold my Father’s hand and sing…I sung a lot many songs I remember.
When I look a Bhupen Hazarika I feel the training does exist somewhere…Activist is a strong word, Yes but I can say Kranti that’s what I want to do…so I sang Pichkari…
I’m sorry to say I am not a Bihari but I worked on Bhojpuri Bhikhari Thakur.
So I plan to approach Louis Banks to take this forward…With exception of 1 or 2 Bhojpuri artistes I don’t see all other Bihari artistes are promoting Bhojpuri music in the right way…Not necessarily in Bihar or UP the language Bhojpuri (innocent) exists.
I am a non-Bihari…Meine Bhojpuri ka namak khaya mein namak haram nahin.
I am trying bridge in between the two worlds…Either it’s my foolishness or there’s over-flowing love.
Tell us about your experience and all throughout tell us everything about how did you go – the people you meet and what you do feel about them. Who are the Artistes who impressed you?
My first long trip was in 2014 to the West Indies in the Caribbean…There are lot of Bhojpuri Biharis Ghayana, Surinami ….. they love their particular musical genre chatni sokha …I was sent by the Indian Government…The Legacy of Bihari Thakur I did in Mantralaya in Mauritius.
It was Bhojpuri literature but I do not do it for the Biharis, there’s a Brahmin lobby (in the government), the right Ambassador for Culture has to be there but no we have a problem with Bihar cause its specifically partial, the people out there treated me as if some age-old folk has come to them.
Cajri Sohar Baghua are shudh forms over there, I had gone to Dubai I got the award, then Osslomi etc…are very different in Norway and…People were not bothered with language but concerned with Music. They were all singing and dancing along simply enjoying the music.
A story of Ladhki in a line…And the most-interesting were the Timbuktus wherein a Timbuktu asked me to perform along and Ila Arunji was there…Say choli kepeeche kya hai choli ke peeche kya hai she has the confidence.
I was wondering why they didn’t ask her but asked me to do it…Then I thought, I think I have something in me I must take forward my Music incorporating folk.
You are taking Fusion music into Bhojpuri like Film music in Western influence, so, is that the way you want to present your music?
I want to blend in both.
You sung for Bollywood?
How many I don’t know but Gandi Baat, Begum Jaan or Bidhaai…
Then before I sang like De Dhana Dan, Welcome, Aafrosh, again item song, Aila Re Aila, Billo Barber,
I don’t believe Bollywood is the mainstream but Bollywood has a lot of strength but how the power is used does matter. But leaving aside art films Bollywood main-line – it’s realistic for sometime you are driven into,
My first I started recording in 2010 and released in 2012 Bhikari Thakur. I thought of an archive and I thought of Bhupen Hazarika ji so more then devotional songs I am more into during Chhat puja and on the other side is commercial film songs. In Bhojpuri doing bhajra ak folk. Say 2 lakh and above audience come to see me my shows,
Musically I have got nothing. Say 3 to 4 years I did R&D on Bikhari Thakur instrumentation is 70 years old that’s played and is completely different. There’s no electronics into it,
Dholak has Banrasi etc… but Bollywood has no Bihar
It has Harmonium, Dholak, Jaal, etc….
I did the Bhakti Andolan. In Assam Bhagti Sangeet,
The secret scriptures of Kirtan Ghosa and…And Monicut made of wood…The secret scriptures of Monikut.
I worked on Anthology of Veda…And khadi veda I went into Coke Studio…Called an artiste from Ghazipur to Mumbai in order to archiving – documenting.
I have two parts archive and other to collaborate with others like Louis Banks etc…. I do not want to go with fusion band. I want to be happy doing something I wish to.
You have been maintaining Your heritage – and – it’s a big risk factor.
Say something that people do not know about you?
I think I have already said a lot so far. Well…. what more do you want to know about me. Infact, there’s nothing much to say and nothing new about me –but - in the Bhojpuri journey I have myself, updated and upgraded my skills and discovered…. in the sense I have myself, invented… some things and lot more new things were happening at that point of time.
When but when I first came into the Bhojpuri world as a female artiste there were lots of new things and in-kept with the Bhojpuri trend. And all those associated with the Bhojpuri music industry like music directors etc were quite excited when they got to know about me.
In Bhojpuri there’s Purvi as one folk form. It is that it comes from the Purvi tak. Maximum people from Bihar are across the Country and worldwide. I think even now in Bihar there’s employment hassles so most go away to the East in order fetch employment to make their living so when they go from Bihar they either go to Calcutta or Assam.
It is said when the Man leaves the Women behind home and go out for work. And, when the wife or sister or mother remembers their men, it’s the wind blowing from the Purab (East) it’s called Purab ka hawai (Purvaiya) flown in.
Until now there existed different types of Purvaiyas. And the much-talked about Purvaiya is the Chhapraiya Purvaiya sung in quite a high pitch and sung like… in a talking voice. It’s the male artistes who sung all female elements (female themes) uptill I came into the picture. My singing range is very high-pitched. When I first heard the songs sung by them, I learnt that the songs they sang were sung in pretty-high pitches which were very-very different. It was interesting. Though, you have Classical notes in it but you do not have to sing the murki(s).
Ultimately in 2004, I, Kalpana Patowary, successfully, became the first-ever first female vocalist to render the Bhojpuri Chhapraiya Purvi in the male-dominated industry.
In what way do I express when we talk about Bihar in many aspects there’s a lot of negativity and wrong notions even in Bombay lot of misunderstanding has happened, politically, when 100 years back Mahatma Gandhi came to India from Africa and on this occasion of andolan sangram we celebrate 15th August Independence Day its part was somewhere lost in the Champaran of Bihar. And in this year during 2017 we complete years of the Satyagraha Champaran. So, in this context, on this occasion, in the name of Champaran Satyagrah, I paved tribute to the Bihar Satyagraha Champaran.
I felt that someone or the other has to do it, somebody has to do it. I thought must do it, for it is one such moment. Champaran locale language is Bhojpuri
If I do not bring in this very-moment then like why do deserve positivity of Bihar Bhojpuri?
So, we went in to the remote right into the village to the Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhiji himself, had built up their own Ashram.
When was this released?
Released in Delhi like I have a lot of BJP MP friends. Say about a year ago, we released the same. It’s on Youtube and all over. I am very comfortable in every
At the heart of the Indian Broadcast & Film industry lies a show that keeps the pulse racing.
Technology evolves at lightning speed and it dramatically impacts everything it touches; the world of broadcast and entertainment is no different. The entire gamut of innovative advancement possible in this industry remains elusive most of the time, except for one unique occasion. Every year, for over two and a half decades, The Broadcast India Show becomes the interactive platform that showcases on one hand, the paradigm shifts in infotainment technology across the globe. On the other, it allows you to connect with the innovators and experience the marvels first-hand.
With Broadcast India Show 2017, it's time to make way for next-gen broadcast technology - faster, easier, more productive and definitely more creative ways of working with broadcast, film, audio, radio and everything else that contributes to the infotainment industry - from its content creation to its management and delivery. Companies and corporates, veterans and professionals, suppliers and customers, visionaries, and other stakeholders from across the world will gather to realize opportunities, establish trade connections and facilitate resource pooling on the biggest scale as is the norm every year.
The last edition of the Broadcast India Show saw over 20,000+ global visitors and 590 participants from more than 36 countries coming together, eager to push ahead of the growth curve faster than anyone else. As a visitor or a participant, there’s no doubt the show will chart new infotainment horizons for you.
Along with the broad-spectrum event, The Broadcast India Show 2017 will simultaneously facilitate a 2-day conference that that dives right into the nitty-gritty of content. It will invite CEOs, directors and proprietors of companies along with engineers, technicians and technologists to conduct an array of technical presentations, product promotions and in-depth discussions.
Ziro Festival of Music 2017
27th Sep - 02nd Oct 2017.
Ziro Festival of Music returns this year to the spectacular Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, India with the best of contemporary music and art the world has to offer. Mark your dates, call your friends, book your tickets. Do all it takes to be part of India's Greatest Outdoor Music Festival.
Broadcast India Show 2017 will take place on 12-14 October 2017 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai.
Global music sensation Ed Sheeran with chart-toppers like Shape of You and Castle on the Hill. The artist is all set to perform live in Mumbai , as he will be touring Asia later this year
Broadcast India Show 2017 will take place on 12-14 October 2017 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai.
From Strumming to Streaming-5 Chords that can Rock the Indian Music Audience
At a recently concluded class on Media and Entertainment that I was conducting in a leading Business School in India, the whole class of 30+ students from across the country were unanimous on ‘free streaming’ as their choice for listening to music. This brought to fore the good and bad of the music industry in India:
•We are going digital in a big way – including music
•We are not willing to pay for music- not yet
Right from the early days of television in India in the 70s where ‘Doordarshan’ was the only channel and ‘Chitrahaar’ the only source of Bollywood music videos outside of films, we have come a long way.
India is the only country probably which has a popular tradition of ‘playback music’ since Bollywood music still contributes to more than 80% of the total music revenues. The rise of the independent music scene was phenomenal in the 90s thanks to the MTV culture that bloomed towards the end of the century. But what went up came down even faster in the beginning of the 21st century, shadowed by the big Bollywood brother gobbling up everything that came its way. While the artists faded, so did the cassette culture to the upsurgence of the CDs. Napster caught the industry napping and digital music slowly led to the demise of the music stores that were on the media planning ‘must have’ list of any serious brand launch in the country. The turmoil of the music licensing and distribution industry in the last decade has led to slow and steady burgeoning of the streaming audience, thanks to platforms like Saavn, Gaana, Wynk, Google and Apple.
Whileall of them have figured out a way to get their music libraryto multiply, they still haven’t arrived at a magic formula for getting the penny pinching Indian audience to pay for their ensemble. Uber and AirBnB have bred the culture of sharing rather than owning, and that has passed on to every sphere of life, including music. The consumer is happy listening to free steaming musiconline; downloads are far and few. Thanks to the increasing speeds and decreasing costs of the ubiquitousWi-Fi, the experience is uninterrupted. Music unavailable domestically is pirated or accessed through VPN.
Though the dishes laid out by each streaming platform are mouthwatering, some of the ingredients still seem to be missing in the Indian buffet.With USA, Europe and China dominating (81%) the $92 Bn global music industry, India is an infant at about $200 Mn, slated to double in the next five years (Source: The Ken). The situation is somewhat similar to that of the movie industry and hence some of the strategies adopted there will work in the music industry too.
Moreover, a consumer who is willing to pay almost $10 a month to Netflix, $20 for a dinner for two at a decent restaurant and hundreds of dollars in travel and leisure is unwilling to shell out even $2 a month for music in a country where the drum beats are second only to heart beats?
Keeping an ear close to the ground, this is what I gathered might help them rake the moolah:
1.Bollywood is just a big B!
For the music industry who hasn’t figured out why the consumer is not paying, Bollywood music is just an excuse for not having found the right strategy. Else how can one explain the fact that Bollywood’s share of 95% in the physical music market dwindles down to less than 60% in streaming revenues giving way to its lesser popular cousins – International, Indie and Regional music.Though still popular amongst the GenX and older generation, Bollywood music is fast getting relegated to the No.2 slot amongst the millennials who lap up everything that is available on the information highway of the internet. There is a strong latent gap for a platform who can occupy the ‘Non- Bollywood’ position and play a long game- a la Netflix in video.
Independent music has been growing in the Youtube generation, fostering a culture of music that transcends linguistic and geographical barriers.
A soon to be released movie by India’s highly profitable superstar, Aamir Khan, ‘The Secret Superstar,’ depicts the story of a muslim girl who rebelliously devises a way to become a singing sensation through Youtube, after her father restricts her from pursuing her melodious hobby. While every second millennial would dream of that, India lacks an organized system for fostering home bred talent. Investing in a ‘Catch them young and watch them grow’ culture would pave the way for a stronger indie revenue stream for the streaming companies.
3.Regional is the next National
Regional music, following the track record of its movies, is getting stronger day by day. While ‘Kolaveri di’ was an international sensation surpassed only by the Korean Gangnam style, the recent rage is of a hitherto unknown Malayalam song- Jimmiki Kammal.
Traditionally South India has had a culture of classical music and dance as a mandatory discipline for every kid. North East India has been popular for its borrowed culture from its Asian neighborsin addition to its indigenous music -and now its virgin landscapes and hills provide the perfect ambience for a mushrooming live music scene. Moreover, Indians have always had music as a staple diet in 22 official Indian dialects and all the 29 states boast of their own unique music heritage. With almost all the platforms focusing on Bollywood music, there is plenty of scope for differentiation by aggregating the regional and live music and increasing the revenue pie.
4.The Big ‘O’
A major success requires a major disruption.
Netflix and Amazon have invested more than $10 Bn in 2017 in original content worldwide, more than twice of the big six Hollywood studios combined. Netflix now has upturned the century old distribution system by premiering its movies on the platform, rather than screening them in theatres. The power has shifted from the century old studios to the decade old OTT platforms.
Moreover, Indians seem to be preferring ‘content driven independent movies’ to their poorly scripted Bollywood cousins and the trend seems to be replicating in the music industry as well. Besides, additional content like top 10 choices of indies from celebrities, biographies of music stars, documentaries, DIY content etc. can add much more value to the music content. We are seeing some of this already on FM radio channels in India.
For the streaming business to thrive, a leaf needs to be plucked from this success story. Only original content will be able to free them from the clutches of the music labels and spruce up their negotiation power. This will also enable them to further strengthen their ties with the artists by eliminating the middlemen.
5.‘T’ing the ball
While a diverse catalog is a ‘given’ for any music platform, the audience technology at the back end and the GUI at the front end is what gives it an edge. Log on to Google Play and it serves you music based on your mood and the time of the day. Spotify has its ‘Echonest software’ that lends it an edge to serve its ‘Discover Weekly’ dishes and ‘Rap Caviar’. Why would you want to wasteyour time on even deciding what music to hear, when the platform can almost read your mind like a magician and exactly tell you what you are thinking of and serve it to you immediately.
What is the future of the music industry? Can new technologies like AR make you sing and record music with your favorite singer? Can it allow you to have an ensemble with musicians performing live in different parts of the world? The possibilities are as endless as the limits of the human mind. The advancement of technology and the demands of the audience will push the boundaries of traditional models of monetization. When the teacher is ready the student will appear!
-Yogesh Karikurve is a global Media and Entertainment expert and has worked across MNCs, Indian Media Houses and Startups to build value oriented businesses in Films, TV and FMCG brands. He blogs on (www.indieyogi.in) on Entertainment and Travel, teaches at leading Business Schools and has been a speaker at various industry conferences internationally.
'Gangnam style' the pop single by the South Korean musician Psy, that took over the world by storm in 2012. Was it just a storm in the tea cup or the beginning for the world to notice K-Pop music is here and come to stay. At least Vh1 thinks so the time has come and they have launched the country’s first ever K-pop music block 'K-Popp’d' premiering September 16,8 PM.
For the non -initiated K-pop is a music genre originating in South Korea iand characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements. Although it includes all genres of "popular music" within South Korea, the term is often used in a narrower sense to describe a modern form of South Korean pop music drawing inspiration on a range of styles and genres incorporated from the West such as Western pop music, rock, experimental, jazz, gospel, Latin, hip hop, R&B, reggae, electronic dance, folk, country and classical on top of its uniquely traditional Korean music roots. The experimentation with different styles and genres of music and integration of foreign musical elements helped reshape and modernize South Korea's contemporary music scene.
Modern K-pop "idol" culture began with the boy band H.O.T. in 1996, as K-pop grew into a subculture that amassed enormous fandoms of teenagers and young adults. After a slump in early K-pop, TVXQ and BoA started a new generation of K-pop idols that broke the music genre into the neighboring Japanese market and continue to popularize K-pop internationally today. With the advent of online social networking services, the current global spread of K-pop and Korean entertainment known as the Korean Wave is seen not only in East and Southeast Asia, but also Latin America, India, North Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere in the Western world.
5 K-pop numbers to convert your Non K-pop friend into an ardent fan
Ask anyone with even the scantiest knowledge of Korean music, and they will say it out in one breathe - Not knowing K-Pop is a crime! Everything, right from the music, to visuals, and not to forget, the boys, are unique and absolutely un-miss-able. We understand your pain when you have to deal with people who do not have knowledge of the genre, and hence bring to you the ultimate savior-
Next time when you come across w/men who do not understand the K world, calm yourself down, and share this list of tracks to convert them into your kind.
1. Fantastic Baby by Big Bang https://youtu.be/AAbokV76tkU
"Fantastic Baby" is recognized as "one of the biggest K-pop hits ever. Its music video broke several records for K-pop groups on YouTube, including being the first to surpass 200 and 300 million views and being the most-watched video. The song was well received by music critics, with Rolling Stone naming it one of the greatest boy band songs of all-time.
2. Gee by Girls Generation https://youtu.be/U7mPqycQ0tQ
"Gee" is a fast-tempo song about a girl who has fallen in love for the first time. The title is supposed to be an exclamation of surprise, an expression similar to “Oh my gosh”, or more similarly, "Gee!" in English.
3. Growl by Exo https://youtu.be/I3dezFzsNss
"Growl" is a song recorded by South Korean boy band Exo for the edition of their first studio album XOXO. It was released in Korean and Chinese. The song is known as Exo's breakthrough single, having sold over two millions copies.
4. Bad Girls by Lee Hyori https://youtu.be/kLyfHxNDeVM
"Bad Girls" is a part of the album “Monochrome” is a dance tune only consisted of acoustic band sound. Lee's self-written lyrics depicts the reality, in which confident women are considered bad.
5. Blood Sweat and Tears by BTS https://youtu.be/hmE9f-TEutc
The video features Rap Monster reciting from a passage of Hermann Hesse’s Demian, which was an inspiration for the album. Tamar Herman described the music video as one that explores ideas of fate, reality, life and death, and falling from grace.
Believe me! Remember when you were twelve years old and your grandmother washed out your mouth with soap and water for using foul language and then threatened to wash your ears out too for listening to and singing songs like “Cocaine” or “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summers”? Yes, our grandparents are constantly reminiscing about the “good old, clean, romantic, wholesome music”, music of the 30’s 40’s and the 50’s”. And you too may have been a victim of having being “brainwashed” into feeling that, yes, the music of the 80’s, 90’s & 2000’s (heavy metal, punk, soul, rap and hip hop) are really full of violence, drugs and sex!
Talking of violence, sex and drugs, every generation thinks they had the right value system during their times and that with every new generation it was going to the dogs. Well, we’re here to break a few age old myths and to enlighten you about the real truth as to why those days were called the “Good Old Bad Days” and how your grandparents lied to you!
“Sometimes she gets unruly;
An she act like she just don't wanna do;
But I get my 22-20;
I cut that woman half in two;
Your .38 Special;
Buddy, it's most too light;
But my 22-20;
Will make ev'rything, alright;
No, this isn’t a song of 80’s or the 90’s. These are the violent lyrics of a song where Skip James sings about cutting a woman in half in this blues number called "22-20 Blues" and he sang it way back in …1931! Compared to this the lyrics of “Ma Baker” sung by Boney M in the 70’s seem positively “tame”.
Couldn’t possibly get more violent than that right? Wrong! Check out the lyrics of Blind Willie McTell singing the "A to Z Blues" – circa 1956
“I’m gonna cut your head four different ways;
That's long, short, deep and wide.
When I get a rhythm of this rusty black handle razor;
you're gonna be booked out for an ambulance ride;
Cause I'm gonna cut A, B, C, D on top of your head;
That's gonna be treating you nice, like mama you ain't gonna be dead.
I'm gonna cut E, F, G right across your face;
H, I, J, K, that's where runnin' bound to take place;
Cut L, M, N cross both your arms;
You'll sell an' peddle gal your whole life long;
Cut N, O, P, Q that's gonna be trouble too;
Cause I'm gonna grab you mama and turn you every way but loose;
Cut R, S, T to hear you cry;
That'll be the last time tears a run from over your eyes;
Cut U, V, W on the bottom of your feet;
That'll be the last time you walk up an' down 25th street;
Marking cross your bosom with X, Y, Z;
When I get through with this alphabet;
You'll quit your messing with me”.
Let’s all be thankful that Blind Willie wasn’t a KG teacher teaching little kids the A to Z of the alphabet!
And if the “bad blue” boys of the 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s thought they were going to get away with violence against women, they were absolutely wrong! Because Josie Miles and her sister “blues” singers proved that they too were equally blood thirsty (if not more) and didn’t even need a reason for getting violent! Compared to these “bad mamas, the so called “bad girls” of today come across as “pristine virgins”.
In the following song "Mad Mama Blues" Bad sister Josie Miles is out to wreck the city, and there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop her.
“Now I could see blood runnin'
Through the streets;
Could be everyone;
Layin' dead right right at my feet.
Give me gunpowder;
Give me dynamite;
Yes I'd wreck the city;
Wanna blow it up tonight.
I took my big Winchester;
Down off the shelf;
When I get through shootin';
There won't be nobody left.
Violent enough? “But hey”, I hear you say, “maybe they were violent, but at least they weren’t doing drugs!” At least they didn’t have songs like Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” or The Beatles “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” encouraging people to try LSD or snort coke! Wrong again sister! just check out the lyrics of this next song -
Dreamed about a reefer five feet long.
Mighty Mezz, but not too strong.
You'll be high but not for long.
If you're a viper.
I'm the king of everything.
I've got to be high before I can swing.
Light a tea and let it be
If you're a viper.
When your throat gets dry you know you're high.
Everything is dandy.
Truck on down to the candy store.
Bust your konk on peppermint candy.
Then you know that you’re body's spent.
You don't care if you don't pay rent.
Sky is high and so am I
If you're a viper.
Name of the song? ‘If You’re A Viper” sung by Stuff Smith in the year 1936 and I’m sure he was really flying super duper high if he smoked five foot reefers!!
Do I hear a few voices still protesting, “OK fine, they had violence and drugs in their lyrics, but at least they didn’t have any “F” words or explicit sex in their songs, like “Oh Me So Horny,” by “2 Live Crew” who Broward County Police had to haul into court, because their album “As Nasty As They Want To Be” had been banned for its obscene lyrical content.”
So Wrong again!
Lucille Bogan, a very motherly, plain looking woman was not called the queen of the "Dirty Blues" for nothing. Yes, this “plain Jane” was the writer and singer of such dirty classics as "Sloppy Drunk Blues," "Tricks Ain't Walkin’ No More" and the "Bull Dyke Women's Blues’s”.
And the lyrics of her most famous song, “Shave ‘Em Dry” which she sang live in pubs in 1935 are too explicit to even print here. But if you don’t believe me you can go to Goggle and type out “Lucille Bogan – Lyrics of “Shave “Em Dry” and check them out. But don’t blame me if you’re scandalized!
And yes, dear child, if you still don’t believe that your grandparents lied to you, then I’m sure you’ll also believe that “Madonna” is still a virgin, that “Michael Jackson” is still alive and “moon walking” and that “The Beatles” are practicing hard… for their next gig!
- Noel Keymer
April 30, is International Jazz Day. Jazz is the African-American’s gift to the World of Music. It has its roots in the Blues and Ragtime Music of the late 19th century which sprung from the work songs of the African slaves in the plantations of the American South. From its beginnings in the New Orleans region of Louisiana, it evolved into a distinct form of musical expression and subsequently giving shape to a form of independent traditional and popular music styles, encompassing several subgenres linked by the same roots, like the dance oriented Swing Music, Kansas Jazz, Bebop, Cool Jazz, Free Jazz and so on.
But whatever form that Jazz music took as it evolved, improvisation was central to the Music, besides the spontaneity of the Musicians performing the Music. It widened the scope for Musicians to explore and interpret the Music in their own individual styles and interact with each other as a group, whether they were playing within a formal musical structure or without.
Jazz, or Jas/Jass, as it was called by some in the early years, today has a huge global following and is hailed worldwide as, “one of America’s original Art forms”.
Jazz came to India in the 1920s, when African-American musicians like Leon Abbey, Crickett Smith, Teddy Weatherford (who recorded with the legendary Louis Armstrong), Rudy Jackson and many others came here and started performing in Calcutta and Bombay. Their audience comprised mainly the British colonialists, Europeans, members of the Indian elite and Anglo-Indians. They also became the inspiration for Musicians from the westernized Goan community and the Anglo-Indians, who started playing at the clubs and 5-star hotels of Bombay and Calcutta and later spreading to other places like Mussoorie, Delhi, Shimla and Madras, the railway towns and cantonment areas all over the country.
The era from the 1930s to the 1950s has been called the golden age of Jazz in India and it produced some legendary Indian Jazzmen (and women) like Micky Correa, Frank Fernand, Hal and Henry Green, Anthony Gonsalves, (the man behind Amitabh Bachchan’s name in Amar Akbar Anthony) Rudy Cotton (a Parsi), Chris Perry, Chic Chocolate, Lucilla Pacheco, Joe Santana, to name just a few.
In the years that followed jazz continued to survive, nurtured by later day jazzmen (and women) like Braz Gonsalves, Louis Banks, Pam Crain, Anibal Castro, Johnny Baptist, Carlton Kitto and many others, but times were difficult and a lot of them veered into the world of film music. Then Elvis happened and the Beatles and Rolling Stones happened and slowly the audience for jazz declined. But jazz has always had its diehard following and has been steadily attracting new and younger fans over the years.
Today there are numerous bands and musicians in India who play jazz, but they are a lot more experimental and fusion driven, than exponents of straight jazz. Then again that’s what jazz is all about, improvisation and exploring the boundaries of musical expression. Not surprisingly, many talented musicians like Ranjit Barot, Sanjay Divecha, Colin D’Cruz, Amit Heri, Gautam Ghosh, Trilok Gurtu, Adrian D’Souza, Dhruv Ghanekar, Merlin D’Souza, dissatisfied with the limitations of popular music, have transitioned to jazz, a platform that offers them the scope for their creative drive. They are the flag bearers of the next level of Jazz in India.
Finally no write up on Jazz music can be concluded without mentioning India’s Jazz impresario and founder of the annual Jazz Yatra festival, late Shri Niranjan Jhaveri, whose passion and dedication brought some of biggest names from the world of jazz to India, including Sonny Rollins, Don Ellis, Clark Terry, Joe Williams, Sadao Watanabe, Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Stephane Grappelli and many many more. The Jazz Yatra festival which began in 1978 had an uninterrupted run till 2004 and since then its legacy has continued as the Jazz Utsav. Mention also must be of Naresh Fernandes who has chronicled the history of jazz music in India in his award winning book, 'Taj Mahal Foxtrot'. Today the mantle has been passed on to the next generation as youngsters like Neil Banks take on the responsibility of organizing The World Jazz Day, Piano Day and programming many upcoming jazz shows.
Jazz will live on, because there will always be enough people who are frustrated with the music that comes out of the conveyor belt. Jazz will live on because there will always be enough fans and musicians who want that bit more. They may not be many but they will always be enough to keep alive the heritage of the legendary Indian jazzmen for many generations to come.
- Stanley Paul
The soldier on the beach tells the captain: 'The tide is turning'.
Captain: 'How can you tell?'
Soldier: ' Cos the dead bodies are floating back'
This dialogue sums up the chilling mood of the movie - 'Dunkirk'- A WW2 movie in May 1940 when about 400,000 British and French soldiers were stranded at the Dunkirk sea and were evacuated despite firing from the German planes. This movie becomes more relevant in recent times when mankind seems to have forgotten the world wars in the last century and several countries have started war-mongering games.
The actors really don't matter here. The characters do. There is a young British soldier who teams up with 2 more and tries to smartly maneuver and jump the queue for rescue. There is a fighter pilot flying the spitfires who along with his battalion is on a mission to bring down the enemy planes. A sailor, who along with his son and another friend, joins the civilian armada to rescue the stranded soldiers. And the naval admiral who is supervising the operations based on orders sent by Winston Churchill.
Christopher Nolan's (Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar, Memento) first non-fantasy movie is his best so far. Along with Hans Zimmer who supports him well with music, he weaves a tale of sorrow, heroism, hope, glory, friendship, fatherhood, survival- all within a span of 2 hours. Camerawork from Hoyte takes you up close to the soldiers and the civilians to give you a personal account on how everything unfolded on that fateful day.
For once, there is no romance behind the scenes; in fact there is not a single woman character!!! It is the hard core and blunt story telling that makes a mark and leaves you questioning life and war. You don't even need a VR to get immersed in the story.
Watch it in Imax and get transported back in time to one of the most controversial wars in history that affected the whole world. #dunkirk #WW2 #indieyogi
Another hidden gem is slowly picking up traction while all the big movies are being talked about.
Trust the Marathi film industry to come out with a horror movie set in a rural background- 'Lapachhapi' (Hide-n-seek). Moreover, this movie brings to light a social issue still prevalent in rural India- female foeticide. The director Vishal Furia smartly interweaves the social issues through the character of a pregnant woman (Pooja Sawant as Neha). Neha and her husband Tushar (Vikram Gaikwad) have to leave their town, when she is 8 months pregnant, and move to an isolated sugarcane farmer's house in the midst of a farm. Their caretaker Tulsibai (Usha Naik) and her husband are very kind to them, but they are disturbed by strange incidents happening to them that pose a threat to their unborn child. The mystery unravels itself in a progressive manner bringing to the fore incidents of the past.
Usha Naik's acting is spotless. Pooja is good but is too active for a 8 months pregnant lady. The music is haunting and so is the repeated game of 'Lapachhapi' played intermittently. Cinematography is excellent and full marks for creating such a big effect on a small budget!
While most horror movies in India thrive on giving you cheap thrills with special effects, this one relies on the story and the treatment to keep you on the tenterhooks! Definitely a must watch. #indieyogi #lapachhapi
While the buzz was about 'Mom', I thought it was a highly overrated movie. The plot was a predictable revenge saga, Sridevi was good in phases in her botoxed avtar while Nawaz is getting predictable with his cranky understated acting- however good it might be. Sajal Ali was the find of the movie with her brilliant portrayal of a rape victim.
"You look in to their eyes and you know exactly what is in their hearts"- exactly sums up the core of the movie, though these words are said by Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain) about the animals. She is the Zookeeper Jan's (Johan Heldenberg) wife and is extremely fond of and an expert with animals. The opening sequence of animals running around her and when she brings back an ailing elephant calf to life leaves you weak in your knees especially if you are an animal lover.
However it is 1939 and this scene is shortlived as the Nazis soon invade Poland leaving the zoo at the mercy of the newly appointed zoologist Lutz (Daniel Bruhl). Contrary to Hitler's reputation of being a vegetarian and an animal lover, most of the regular animals are killed while a few of them are taken away by the zoologist to a safe location.
Thus begins the real life story where the Zabinski's save more than 300 Polish Jews by hiding them in their basement meant for breeding pigs. The lead actors, especially Jessica, are excellent in their restrained yet powerful portrayal of the characters. She balances the fine line between her devotion to the hiding Jewish while subtly thwarting the romantic overtures made by Lutz.
The narrative is striking, more as a real life story than as a movie. Some of the ghetto scenes are predictable and so is the ending. If you have been to the Auschwitz ghetto that is still preserved in Poland, it will make you wonder about the cruelty of human race.
But a good watch this weekend for its cute animals and Jessica... Noor not even being a very distant alternative!
Orange Amplification is delighted to be sponsoring the 2017 Progressive Music Awards once again. These prestigious awards will be held at The Underglobe on the September 14th. This year, Orange Ambassadors Mastodon, Sólstafir and Rush are nominated for awards.
Mastodon, winners of this year’s Golden God Award for Best Live Band, have earned themselves a reputation as one of the most creative metal bands of a generation. The stunning artwork of their best-selling seventh studio album, Emperor of Sands, has been nominated for Prog Awards 2017 Album Cover Of The Year. In addition, ‘Show Yourself’ the second single from the album and the band's most commercially successful has been nominated for Video of The Year. Mastodon has just announced their Emperor of Sands tour will be extended with seven UK Shows from December 2nd in Cardiff to the 10th in London.
The music of Icelandic heavy metal band Sólstafir has been described as a unique blend of metal, beautiful melodies with psychedelic moments. They have been nominated for International Band / Artist of the Year at the Prog Awards. Their sixth album Berdreyminn, released in May 2017 is being supported by a UK and European tour throughout June.
Rush’s fortieth anniversary edition of their seminal ‘2112’ album has been nominated for Reissue Of The Year, sponsored by Orange Amplification. The re-mastering of this landmark 1976 album adds polish to an already superb example of musical agility. It has Orange Ambassador Geddy Lee’s vocals popping and his iconic bass lines sounding refreshed and rejuvenated. The album may be forty years old, yet 2112 remains as relevant as ever.
To find out more about the Prog Awards, the categories and vote for your favourite Orange Ambassador please go to www.progmagazine.com/awards. To find out more about Orange Amplification, its products and its artists please go to https://orangeamps.com/.
It was way back in 1998 that we established, RagatoRock, India's first all genre music magazine. After a spectacular run of almost three years,the print edition was discontinued in favour of an online version. The online version quickly established itself as the leading online music magazine for everything in music.
Through the years, we had our share of good times and down times but we have learnt and adapted and are still here unlike so many of our contemporaries and raring to go. The passion that started it all is still burning bright and today we are ready to once again reinvent ourselves with the same fire and undiminished passion.
Located in a former mill, the Mumbai outpost of the US chain of resto-bars has a mixed reputation among the city's musicians. In the first couple of years after opening, in 2006, indie rock acts were often asked to include a stipulated number of cover songs in their set lists. These days, Hard Rock Café, which hosts gigs every Tuesday and Thursday night, sticks mostly to cover bands, with a couple of dates a month spared for indie groups. Skip these gigs, and come here only for the ticketed events, when one of the seating areas is cleared to make room for a larger stage, for performances by Indian indie icons (folk-fusion veterans Indian Ocean, electro-rock superstars Pentagram), international chart toppers (Wyclef Jean, Jay Sean) or club-packing DJs (Bob Sinclair, Paul van Dyk). Be warned, though: the waiters break into a synchronised jig every time the Village People's "YMCA" comes on.
Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, + 91 22 2438 2888, Hardrockindiablog.com. Open daily noon-1.30am. Performance times and entrance fees vary
Zombies often herald the end of all things, but for Frank West, their reemergence marks a new beginning. Frank, former photojournalist extraordinaire, has been off the radar since the first Dead Rising a decade ago, and this third Christmas-themed sequel finds him eking out his days as a college professor teaching novices his craft. But when the dead come, he again finds life. Even in Frank's opening nightmare in which he knocks back zombies like a wrecking ball, there's a sense amid his snarky complaints that he wants this. And even though Capcom's approach here stumbles here in parts, I was surprised by how much I wanted this as well.
When Dead Rising 4 works, it's because it steadfastly refuses to take itself seriously. Frank is 16 years older now and looks and grumbles (thanks to a new voice actor) a little like Joel from the PS4's The Last Of Us, but even though he journeys back to fictional Willamette, Colorado with student Vick Chu, the lightweight but enjoyable tale is never weighed down with musings on surrogate fatherhood and hope. Neither is it entirely dismissible, even though it largely dumps the main conspiracy premise a handful of chapters in, as it handles its characterizations well. Frank drops lines about setting his balls on fire and other wisecracks, but there's enough gravity mixed in with the goofiness to make the relationships seem believable.
Still, this is a tale about blasting zombies with a gnome-capped staff called the "Gandelf" and gleefully plowing through literally hundreds of zombies in a city park with a lawnmower. It's about strapping on hulking (and rare) exosuits after zombies overrun the Willamette Memorial Megaplex after Black Friday and cutting down them with an electrified battleaxe or using blueprints to make quirky weapons like an "Ice Sword" from scattered items like liquid nitrogen and machetes. The melee controls are satisfying and intuitive, although the removal of throwable melee weapons stings bitterly and ranged weapons suffer from poor aiming. Never before has the series tossed the undead at you with such relentlessness. I'm inclined to believe there's no way a town like Willamette was home to that many people in the first place, but the crowds make the yuletide slaughter consistently enjoyable.
Frank's ability to handle those swarms comes with a price. Dead Rising 4 is never difficult, and even in a toque blanche and chef's whites I could shrug off piles of the undead about as well as Overwatch's Reinhardt might fend off a pack of yorkies. When I died and had a chance to check out the generous checkpoint and autosave system, it was only because I'd stepped away and forgotten to pause. There's not even a way to ramp up the difficulty besides sticking around for New Game+ or a separate multiplayer mode that's confined to a specific setting and steadily increases the difficulty. But even in the New Game, Frank can handle himself just fine. If you're specifically looking for a single-player combat challenge or any degree of tension, you won't find it here.
But you might find cause to stick around if your interests lie elsewhere. Capcom removed much of the series' previous urgency by ditching the timer, which frees up Frank's time to track down a sleigh's worth of blueprints and assorted collectibles, as well as stopping off from time to time to save survivors stranded in the undead sea. So heavy is the sandboxy exploration emphasis that Frank doesn't even have to head anywhere to craft his sometimes silly murder devices: he can cobble together firework-shooting crossbows or electricity-shooting go-karts right there in the field. The approach works well because the small-town setting is so well-realized, partially thanks to its Christmas theme that infects the core 10-hour story as thoroughly as the sickness infects the zombies. The holly jolliness adds a touch of flavor to exploring parts of town beyond the mall that might come off as boring during any other season.
There's so much to see, so many parts to use for an impressive variety of weapons, and so many combos to build that I usually had a cozy sense that I was in a zombie-themed take on Just Cause, taking similar pleasure in causing mindless mayhem with weapons and vehicles to the tune of "O Tannenbaum" and "Auld Lang Syne." Frank's camera even adds to the fun, not only by taking great shots to build a few extra experience points, but by stopping to take goofy selfies with the shambling corpses. It all makes for a nice change of pace, but I could never shake the feeling that Dead Rising had sacrificed much of its identity in the process.
Weirdly, there's no co-op option for the campaign, thus robbing the series of a big degree of its former fun. Gone, too, are the cutscenes that uses to boot up before what used to be called the "psychopath" minibosses. Capcom calls the psychopaths "maniacs" now, and they're sadly essentially irrelevant, being almost exclusively limited to sidequests and usually involving little more than regular zombies with big health pools tromping around in exosuits or Santa costumes. Sometimes I found welcome surprises in the form of fast, newly turned zombies, but most of the time the thousands I killed were as indistinguishable as bricks in a wall.
It's a strange game for the series, as it subtracts something for everything it adds, making it unlike anything we've seen for Dead Rising until now. It's the kind of design that might scare off veterans but bring in fresh zombie killers into the fold. But it's one that I generally enjoyed, even though it's marred with a first-launch crash bug that Capcom warned us about, but which it still hasn't fixed. For some players, though, I imagine that bit of bootup trouble won't prove as annoying as the fact that you can currently only download it for PC from the Windows Store. A Steam version is supposedly in the works, but by the time we see it, Dead Rising 4's cheeky Christmas theme will likely be long out of place. But now? 'Tis the season.
The Dwarves, a new realtime tactical RPG based on Markus Heitz’s German fantasy novel series of the same name, is an uneasy adaptation. As an RPG, Dwarves wants you to make choices to explore the world of its characters, but as a slavish recreation of a well-known book, it is constantly taking choices away from you. It’s a novel stuffed into an ill-fitting RPG suit, straining at seams held together by threadbare patches of tactical combat.
There are a few different problems going on here, but if I smelt it right down to the base ore, The Dwarves has two main failings: its RPG doesn’t give you any freedom to make choices or grow, and its combat is spammy, tiresome, and not very fun.
Only a few minutes into my adventure—playing as Tungdil Goldhand, the young dwarf on a quest—I came across the first of many times that the plot of Heitz’s novel stomps on my fun. I’m travelling across an overhead map in the style of a board game, with pieces moving along a gridwork of paths and roads. At each grid intersection, a chance encounter, town, or event pops up.
On this occasion, the encounter window tells me I’ve found an abandoned camp and fire ring. Do I want to start a fire and bed down, or should I be extra cautious and climb into a tree? Not seeing any reason why I should be paranoid enough to sleep in a damn tree, I sack out. The next window informs me that an orc stabbed me in my sleep, and I am now dead. No ceremony, no preamble. Dead dwarf, game over.
I had to load my most recent save because, according to a friend who has read the series, Tungdil sleeps in the tree in the book. It may be faithful to the source material, but if I played D&D with a DM who concluded a short introduction with “...and a piano drops on you and you die; let’s start again,” I would not hang around that game for very long.
After reloading and sleeping in the tree, Tungdil wakes up to see an orc warband (surprise!) set up camp below him. After they leave, an encounter window gives me my options: climb down, or wait up in the tree to make sure the coast is clear. Well, you don’t have to stab this dwarf in the gut more than once to teach him some caution, so I wait in the tree. Nothing happens, says the encounter window. Do I want to wait some more?
I chose the option to wait in the tree a dozen times, waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever does; the plot didn’t move on until I climbed down. These false choices are everywhere: maybe saying hello to a traveling caravan will give me an opportunity to buy some supplies; maybe meeting a character in that caravan is absolutely critical, and walking past it is game over. An RPG is a game about choices, yes, but Dwarves is a game in which some choices are meaningless and some choices are momentous, and there’s no telling which is which. I found myself quick-saving every few minutes.
For being so devoted to the plot of the book, sadly, this is a rendition of The Dwarves that did absolutely nothing for me as an introduction to this world. Names washed over me, signifying nothing, as though I was making introductions at a friend’s family reunion: Vraccas, Tion, Girdlegard, Bo?ndal, Älfar. A narrator delivers some pretty talented voice work, including what sound like direct dialog quotes from the book, but not being able to understand the references pulled me out of the game. The whole story wraps up in about 11 hours, reminding me again and again that I was playing a Wikipedia-level summary of a much more interesting story.
When Tungdil isn’t clicking around, exploring this and that and getting quests to here and there, The Dwarves spends a lot of time in combat. It’s a standard party-based tactical RPG set-up: overhead camera, pause at any time, give orders, deploy special skill attacks set to cool-down timers. This design is serviceable in a lot of other games, but it stumbles badly here.
The members of your party automatically attack the nearest enemy and pound them steadily with a basic attack until you give an order to use a special skill, which is actually pretty nice to see. Unfortunately, the basic attacks are useless, so the special skill attacks do all the heavy lifting. After some trial and error, I discovered that using basic strategy and smart party placement isn’t nearly as important as making sure that all of your fighters use as many of their special attacks as often as possible. The best way to make it through a tough fight is to pause often, switch characters constantly, and throw around those special attacks the instant their timers expire.
If any party characters die, that’s game over (because the characters have to participate in the plot, of course), so it’s a real pain in the leather that there are very few ways to heal during a fight. This made difficulty spikes a real issue for me. Even on the easiest difficulty, I came up against several seemingly impossible battles, randomly placed before or after another fight that I found effortless. My success or failure depended entirely on how many bad guys level designers decided to spawn for that battle. If they added too few, I had an easy time. If they added too many, I had a horrific grind.
It’s at this point that I would spend some character points beefing up that basic attack or spend some gold improving my gear, but Dwarves doesn’t have even those basic RPG elements. There are a few inventory items, like enchanted pendants and such, but no way to upgrade armor or loot new weapons. The only way to grow a character is by advancing along a very simple, one-path skill tree (skill stick? skill line?) with half a dozen special moves to unlock.
After all the whining I’ve just done about this poor, battered game, it hardly seems worth mentioning, but: I had a lot of technical issues with The Dwarves, too. I only crashed to desktop once, thankfully, but there were other problems. My frame rate plummeted in every battle when a lot of enemies showed up, and moving around the map interface brought on screen tears and texture-pops. In combat, the camera is a real nuisance; I paused to find a camera angle free of tree branches and terrain almost as often as I paused to give combat orders. On one occasion, a corrupted saved game loaded to show a permanently frozen, motionless dwarf in the foothills around Blacksaddle. I returned to a previous save and started again.
Between the rocky difficulty curves, the linear progression, the forced petty choices, and insta-death penalty for veering away from the dictated plot—everything in The Dwarves made me feel like I had no real control over my journey across Girdlegard. I lacked any real agency as a player, and even for a short RPG adventure, that sucks. I wanted to go on a journey, but I ended up just watching a pretty good book as read by someone else.
If the Walking Dead TV show can’t decide whether it wants to be a dark, maudlin drama or a schlocky, gory thrill-ride, Telltale’s interactive adaptation has established a more consistent voice that allows room for a bit of both without leaving you suffering from tonal whiplash. Its problem is that between the comic books, the TV series and the games, the cyclical nature of its narrative has become ever more apparent. Still, if a riff is catchy enough then it can bear a certain degree of repetition—and though some of its scenarios are familiar, Season Three opens with a double-header that shows The Walking Dead at its best, with characters you can care about, a couple of genuinely shocking surprises and a clutch of well-staged set-pieces.
It certainly helps that Telltale’s new engine finally feels fit for purpose. While Batman still had its share of performance issues, there’s little to grumble about in Ties That Bind: everything runs that much smoother, with snappier transitions that give the action sequences a greater sense of urgency. Press a button to jab a sharp object through a walker’s skull and the only delay between tap and squelch is in the swing. Better lighting and superior cinematography enhance the visual storytelling, too: episode one’s terrific opening offers a shivery reminder of the time the dead first started coming back to life, following a wonderful corridor shot with a jittery handheld camera to heighten the growing unease.
It’s here that we meet new protagonist Javier Garcia, a disgraced former baseball star who quickly moves from absentee son to surrogate father as his story picks up a few years later. He’s now on the road with sister-in-law Kate and her two stepkids, the sullen Gabe and the more immediately likeable, level-headed Mariana. Theirs is the kind of dysfunctional family unit we’ve seen before, but there’s some solid character work here—and a winning line in gallows humour—that establishes the bond between them. Even as they snipe at one another, there’s a clear affection behind the barbs.
Then, of course, there’s Clementine. A few years have passed since the end of Season Two, and she’s now significantly more hard-bitten and distrusting than ever—albeit still fundamentally decent enough to let Javier hang onto an item of emotional worth. It’s startling to see her like this, but we soon come to understand why, via a pair of playable flashback sequences across the two episodes. The first draws a firm line under last season’s events, and for at least two of the possible endings resulting from your pivotal choice in the finale, the outcome here is especially grim. It’s a reminder that your decisions can only really shape your journey rather than its destination, but in a world where surviving is an act of defiance, there’s something to be said for a choice that lets you spend a little longer with someone you care for.
These moments are slightly more problematic in light of the main narrative. As players, we want to know what happened to Clem between then and now, and so it makes sense for Telltale to fill in the gaps. But this isn’t an ensemble piece where each character’s perspective is explored; outside these flashbacks, the story is told exclusively from Javier’s viewpoint. Taking time out to explore the backstory of someone he’s only recently met feels strange, and it also leads to a certain disconnect in terms of your decision-making. We all know Clementine, but Javier doesn’t: though Telltale steadily establishes an uneasy alliance between them, there are key decisions we’re invited to make as Javier with knowledge he couldn’t possibly have. There’s a similar problem in a later scenario. After arriving at a new settlement, it’s not long before Javier indirectly causes a crisis, and yet characters are all too ready to trust him over companions they’ve presumably spent a good deal longer with. Still, that’s an issue from which the TV show also suffers, and at least Javier seems a less impetuous and unhinged leader than Rick Grimes.
Otherwise, there’s much to admire here, from a darkly amusing exchange between Javier and Clem about their different terms for the dead (“What do you call the ones that run?”) to a torchlit tunnel escape that concludes with a tense confrontation and a choice that threatens to have serious ramifications for the next episode at least. An optional DIY surgery scene is every bit as squirmingly grisly as Clem’s wound stitching in last season’s opener, while an appearance from a familiar face will delight fans of the comic and/or TV show. It’s clear that the 'graceful exit' imagined by one character isn’t going to happen any time soon for The Walking Dead, but Ties That Bind makes a surprisingly convincing argument for it to keep shuffling onward.
No, the title doesn’t contain a typo. No, the iPhone 8 hasn’t magically become official already. Still, the rumor mill has considered that it’s time to move on from discussing Apple’s tenth anniversary smartphone. So, just for today, let’s talk about the iPhone 9. The one that will come in 2018. Apparently this will be offered in two sizes, both sporting much bigger touchscreens than we’ve gotten used to. The small iPhone 9 will come with a 5.28″ display, while the larger model will accommodate a 6.46″ panel.
In both cases, the screen tech used will be OLED, and the supplier of the panels will be none other than Samsung. The Korean company expects to sell at least 180 million units to Apple for this purpose. That’s more than double the estimated 80 million OLED displays that it’s producing for the iPhone 8, which should launch this fall.
Of course this is but an unconfirmed rumor for now, so don’t take it too seriously. We’ll have to wait and see whether other reports will corroborate what it claims.
This year Apple is said to release three new iPhone models, two successors for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (with the same screen sizes and LCD panels), and a new size device that will feature the Samsung-made OLED screens. According to “some sources”, the Korean company is planning to build a new factory that will be dedicated to exclusively churning out OLED panels for Apple.
After teasing its R11 smartphone earlier this week, Oppo has now launched its A77 smartphone in Taiwan. Notably, the new smartphone from Oppo features an impressive 4GB of RAM and a 16-megapixel selfie-camera. Priced at TWD 10,990 (Rs. 23,400), it will go on pre-order in Taiwan on Friday, May 19 and will be made available starting May 26.
The hybrid dual-SIM Oppo A77 runs ColorOS 3.0 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and sports a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) In-Cell display and is powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6750T SoC clocked at 1.5GHz. As we mentioned earlier, the smartphone features an impressive 4GB of RAM.
In terms of optics, the Oppo A77 comes with a 13-megapixel primary camera with an f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, and dual LED flash. At the front, the smartphone has a 16-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture. The company claims that with its Background Blur feature, the phone is able to create a depth-of-field effect through its Portrait mode.
The Oppo A77 comes with 64GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB). The phone houses a 3200mAh battery and will be made available in Gold and Rose Gold colours. In terms of connectivity options, the phone offers 4G LTE connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, as per a report by Gadget Blaze. The phone comes with a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button at front.
Oppo launched its F3 smartphone with dual selfie camera in the Indian market last month. The smaller sibling of the Oppo F3 Plus, the smartphone has been priced at Rs. 19,990, and went on sale earlier this week. The dual selfie camera on the smartphone has one 16-megapixel 1.3-inch sensor with f/2.0 aperture, and double view wide-angle camera that has an 8-megapixel sensor. While the former sports a 76.4-degree wide-angle lens, the latter sports a 120-degree wide-angle lens that allows for 105-degree field-of-view group selfies.
Xiaomi may have spilled the beans for its ‘unannounced’ Redmi Pro 2 smartphone which was reportedly listed for a brief period on its China site. Based on the listing, the Redmi Pro 2 will be priced at CNY 1,199 (roughly Rs. 11,500) in China.The online listing at Mi.com, was soon pulled down, also included some innards like 5.5-inch OLED display, recently unveiled Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4100mAh battery, and a 16-megapixel rear camera. Considering the original Redmi Pro featured MediaTek Helio processors, it’s interesting to see the company opting for a Snapdragon processor for the successor. The Xiaomi Redmi Pro came with the deca-core MediaTek Helio X25 SoC coupled with Mali-T880 GPU and 4GB RAM + 128GB storage variant apart from the 3GB RAM + 64GB storage variant.
Unfortunately, there’s no official word on the launch of the Xiaomi Redmi Pro 2 as of now. The brief listing of the Redmi Pro 2, however, points to an imminent launch of the phone in China in the coming weeks or months. The China listing was first spotted by GizmoChina.
Much like the original Xiaomi Redmi Pro, the successor is also likely to sport a dual rear camera setup. To recall, the Redmi Pro featured dual rear camera setup with a 13-megapixel Sony IMX258 sensor with a 5-lens module, an f/2.0 aperture, and PDAF autofocus, coupled with a 5-megapixel Samsung (unspecified) sensor for the secondary depth-sensing camera.
The Chinese company is also said to have launched a new pair of USB Type-C earphones in China. The new USB Type-C earphones have been launched at CNY 299 (roughly Rs. 3,000), and will be going on sale in China soon.
Xiaomi is all set to launch its next Redmi smartphone in India on Tuesday, at an event in New Delhi scheduled to begin at 11:30am IST. The Xiaomi Redmi 4 is expected to be launched, and we already know that Amazon India will be the exclusive retail partner for the smartphone.
The Xiaomi Redmi 4’s launch event will be live streamed on the company site. Amazon India has also started accepting registrations for notifications about the smartphone. Xiaomi is also expected to launch the Redmi 4 Prime in India alongside the Redmi 4 at the event.
The Redmi 4 and Redmi 4 Prime were launched in China in November last year, alongside the Xiaomi Redmi 4A, which has been available in India since March. In China, the Redmi 4 is priced at CNY 699 (roughly Rs. 6,900), while the Redmi 4 Prime is priced at CNY 899 (roughly Rs. 8,900).
Both the Redmi 4 and Redmi 4 Prime bear identical metal unibody designs, 2.5D curved glass displays, hybrid dual-SIM slots, and a fingerprint sensor on the rear panel, but have some major differences in specifications such as display resolution, memory, processor, and inbuilt storage. Both smartphones run MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and were launched in in Gold, Grey, and Silver colour variants.
The Redmi 4 bears a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, and is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC clocked at 1.4GHz coupled with the Adreno 505 GPU and 2GB of RAM. It sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.2 aperture, 5-lens system, PDAF, and dual-LED flash. On the front, it bears a 5-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 aperture.
It comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB). Connectivity options on the Redmi 4 include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, and GPS/ A-GPS. It is powered by a 4100mAh battery with fast charging support. Sensors on board the Redmi 4 include accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, infrared, and proximity. Dimensions are 141.3×69.6×8.9mm, and it weighs in at 156 grams.
The Redmi 4 Prime on the other hand sports a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, and is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC coupled with Adreno 506 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It bears 32GB of inbuilt storage, which is also expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB). It also offers Bluetooth v4.2 connectivity, but apart from this, all other specifications match the Redmi 4.
Dekhun tujhe hi saki kilthe gulab mein
Hai baat hi kucch aisi yaaron sharab mein.
Karta hoon koshish par usse booltha nahin
Kya kub hai koshish tere shabab mein
Sare Shaher ki uspe nazrein tehr gaye
Chehra chuppa liya hai jisne nakab mein
Ji chahta hai bur loon bahon mein abb usse
Dekha hai maine usko jis din se rubab mein
Dil mein kisike lagta mera mukaam hai
Beijein hai phool jisne katke jawab mein
Kya sheriffayat sukh aur chand ki ajhil
Ruba niyanth jo usne di hai janab mein
- S Sajid P Udhas (13.12.97)
Aries (March 21-April 20): This week, Control your temper and keep patience, Wait for right time before taking any step. Even though you are doing well at work, you may feel dissatisfied with the results. You are perhaps becoming overly ambitious. There is no harm in starting a new carrier in film or music industry in this week provided you are certain that you will be able to enough resources to conclude the same. Happiness is love is assured this week.
Taurus (April 21-May 20): Socially, a very active period is ahead. A close associate may back out of some promised help, this might halt your carrier development in music industry . This will be quite upsetting for you. However, this will help you to realize that you should not depend on other. Rest assured that through hard work you will achieve success. Gains are indicated this week, relatively for singers . Those in love can look forward to many exciting evenings with their beloved in this week.
Gemini (May 21-June 20): A quick turn over in business leads to sudden monetary benefits. Avoid fresh investments until you come across a real good bargain. Do not reject any of the projects related to singing and directing. Speculative ventures should be avoided. Those associated with the singing will sign new prestigious contract. Love life is sparkling this week.
Cancer (June 21-July 21): Overseas influence is strong for those who are in field of lyricists. Some of you will make plans to travel on work or on a special assignment. Others are likely to have a visitor from overseas who may have an interesting proposal for a joint venture in multimedia. Those in creative media or related fields are bound to be in the limelight.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 21): Financials gains are indicated but you are advised to hold on your profit and not to invest the same in new ventures. Do not in any case invest your money on the advice of associates who may have some ulterior motives. The married are likely to face a few problems on the home front, As you could not spend much time with them. Those who are composers will be singing new prestigious contract.
Virgo (Aug 22-Sept 21): A busy work schedule could prove tiring. Those travelling on work related to music or film industry will face a few delays and hardships. It is quite likely you may have to travel again to conclude your task. You may hardly find any time for love and romance. A journey abroad will yield profits now and for the future. You may have to return a favor.
Libra (Sept 22-Oct 22): Organizers and playback singers will be given a special assignment to handle independently. The successful completion of this particular project will lead too a promotion. Home also comes under focus due to certain joyful celebration in the family. As you are a entertainer you will be entertaining a number of guests and friends visiting you from out of town.
Scorpio (Oct 23-Nov 21): Those living away from home and family are likely to return soon. Financially, a favorable period and you could make new investment in fresh projects like buying a music album. The singers who desire of changing job will receive suitable offers. Happiness pervades on the home front.
Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 20): Avoid speculative ventures for a financial setback is foreseen. You need to stick to routine work and not listed to the advice of those who are making proposal for some quick-money-making scheme. A change of residence or location is predicted for some of you. A deeper bond and can also help you to develop your carrier in music industry
Capricorn (Dec 21-Jan 19): Certain “Lucky” developments at work suddenly propel you to a position of eminence. You will get an opportunity to consolidate your position and also display your organizational abilities. Financially, your position is secured, But Co-operate with your seniors mood; it may bring good news if you are composer or singer. You will be organizing a large social get-together, Which will prove enjoyable.
Aquarius (Jan 20-Feb 18): Work wise a rewarding week. You will be able to consolidate your position at work and also make profitable investment in a deal proposed by a friend, as this can also help you to grab attention of your seniors if you are a producer or director. Love life is delightful and exciting. Some of you are likely to travel to your favourite holiday resort in the company of your sweetheart.
Pisces (Feb 19-March 20): You are greeted with a sudden surprise with the receipt of large sum of money. . The desire to journey is great, but don't take your eye off the professional ball, as there are chances of going out station for a shoot so you can do both things at same time, as things are moving quickly.
When I was much younger, I could talk about myself for hours on end. Let’s just call it self-indulgent verbal diarrhea. But at 42, if I had to do that, I wouldn’t know what exactly to say and where exactly to start. Perhaps the ‘Eternal Teenager’ would make a good start. The question is: why would you want to read about me when the only charts I have topped are indie, the only awards I have won are indie, and everything about me is so indie? May be because you want to read about someone who is just like you… someone who values the same values and battles the same battles.
Have you ever spat out song lyrics to counter condescending questions flung at you in a boardroom full of corporate white collars? Have you ever forced yourself on academia only to bribe your parents to let you dream your own dreams? Have you ever experienced deafening applause only to open your eyes and find yourself still in bed? Excellent! Read on then!
I was named Tirthankar Poddar within 6 days of my first scream. It was dad’s choice. He was an Oncologist, the finest the state of Tripura had ever seen. Thankfully (or otherwise) mom thought of something simpler: Tublu. These names were never an issue in Agartala where I grew up. But during pre-college in Chennai, class fellows from around the world had trouble pronouncing them. Soon ‘Tublu’ became ‘2Blue’ and things began to brighten up. Whether Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ or 2Pac Shakur is to blame, I’ll never know. It was 1991 and Guns N’ Roses had just released ‘Use Your Illusion I and II’. Those albums changed my life forever. I knew instinctively that I had to be the lead singer of a rock band someday. Here’s what happened.
1993 came by and I met Sajid Waikhom and Raju Marak. These were the deceptive looking rock musicians who brought the career graphs of two of the north east’s best bands to a trough by choosing to invest four long years in acquiring engineering degrees. They were my seniors at NIT, Agartala and my ‘gurus’ in more ways than one. They were the gentlemen whose Sunday afternoon naps were forever denied because I would beg for vocal tips and guitar lessons. They were also my first band mates. We played at the Town Hall in Agartala at the Miss Tripura Pageant. It was the biggest media circus the town had experienced back then. I still have the live recording from that night and it never fails to make me smile.
1997 brought with it a first class degree in Mechanical Engineering and travel tickets to Mumbai. My life was mapped out before me by my doting parents. 1. Move to the city. 2. Get an MBA. 3. Get employed. 4. Get married. 5. Start a family. 6. Live a ‘safe’ life devoid of adventure. I wonder how they missed ‘music’ in their meticulously laid out plan. But it is believed that if you want something bad enough, the universe rearranges itself to make it happen for you. So one hot summer night in 2000, I played my first gig in Mumbai at the erstwhile Three Flights Up in Colaba. Earlier that day, I attended my convocation at Mumbai University. MBA (Marketing & Systems) – that certificate sure meant something to my parents. But all I could think about during the pretentious ceremony was that I was getting late for sound check.
A couple of years and a few short-lived bands later, guitar player Ravi Iyer invited me to sing for Vayu. With Vayu, we headlined practically every major music festival in India between 2004 and 2008. I even got to share stage-space with Paul DiAnno (ex-Iron Maiden), Matthias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen), Jonas Hellborg (ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra), and George Lynch (ex-Dokken) before we released an album titled ‘Wings Of A Dream.’ All vocal tracks for that album were recorded after long hours in the corporate sun. The fans loved it but I am not incredibly sure if I did. In any case, I found comfort knowing that I had just embarked on a new journey called Zedde (pronounced z??).
It was late 2008. One phone call was all it took. Claver Menezes, who I had been a fan of for many years, was on the other end of the line. His willingness to take on guitar duties in Zedde meant everything. We were hungry to play, and tore every stage that came our way. College festivals, clubs, radio stations, TV studios, award functions – we did it all. And in less than a year, the music video of our first single ‘Mumbai’ was beamed into households across different time zones via multiple TV channels including VH1, Sony, and UTV. ‘Mumbai’ then went on to becoming the Asian Anthem of the Year at the world’s largest indie music awards – AVIMA 2010. We enjoyed every bit of the momentum we had gathered. Shortly thereafter, ArtistAloud.com released our singles ‘Dust On My Window’ and ‘Thank You’, and even honored us with the ‘Best Band’ title. This translated to a lot of early mornings at the airports, a lot of accented people at the gigs, and a livid boss back in the office. I was Assistant Vice President – Operations in a firm specializing in Academic Editing, and that’s as much I want to talk about that job. As Robert Plant would say, “Ten minutes in the music scene is the equal of one hundred years outside of it.” I was happy.
Let us now skip past a year of self-imposed unemployment and fast-forward to 2013. I was Vice President – Content Acquisition in a firm specializing in educational eBooks. Music still meant way more to me than that fancy designation. In December, guitar player Chandresh Kudwa invited me to guest-appear at a concert in Rajkot. The repertoire comprised several hard rock renditions of Bollywood hits. I had never sung in Hindi before, and therefore had to work extra hard on my diction. But when I climbed on stage that night, the people of Rajkot flashed their teeth and made me their own. Everyone visibly had made the right choice… the band, the organizers, the audience, the engineers, and most of all me. It was a little after 1 am when I returned to my hotel room. The number sequence ‘1:11’ flashed on my cellphone as I switched it on. Always intrigued by things that science is too young to explain, I googled to see what it meant. Here’s what I found.
“Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into your reality.”
I lost no time to return to office the next morning to submit my resignation letter. Since then, I have toured extensively with a stellar lineup of new musicians. I have hosted shows on PlanetRadioCity.com, and have played Judas Iscariot in Alyque Padamsee’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s simple. I just want to be completely spent by the time I go. There is no point in dying with my gifts still inside me. If you’ve reached this far into the article, you must have figured that the ‘Eternal Teenager’ can still ramble for hours on end. I thank you for the patient read as I sign off saying: have the courage to follow your heart. It may not bring you superstardom, but it sure will bring you happiness. And that is what truly matters. I am still the same old indie artist battling the same old battles. But that is now a featured story in this magazine. I guess I have done something right after all.
2Blue (AKA Tirthankar Poddar) is a singer, writer, and actor. He can be reached via his Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or YouTube accounts (see URLs below).
www.facebook.com/2BlueHimself , www.twitter.com/2BlueHimself
www.instagram.com/2BlueHimself , www.youtube.com/2BlueHimself