Multiple award winning singer and composer Sonam Kalra is trained in both Indian and Western traditions of music and is equally adept at both. She talks to The Daily Guardian about the Sufi Gospel Project, her initiative which brings together artists of different faiths, her musical journey, and how things have turned for worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for artistes. Excerpts:
Q. Your music for the Sufi Gospel Project brings a mix of languages and religions to your audience. How important is it to support a culture of “fusion” at a time like the present one?
A. I think it is extremely important at all times, to support a culture of fusion, because that is what it essentially means to be Indian. We have a history of being multi-faith and multicultural, and therein lies our strength. The music I create within The Sufi Gospel Project is a fusion of ideologies — poetry and prayer and music from seemingly disparate cultures, traditions and regions. And I say seemingly because the more I look at our differences the more I find through them our similarities. To say that each of us has our own truth and you can find that truth in a temple, a shrine, a church or a mosque but the most important thing to remember, is that each truth is just as valid. My music is about equality, the inclusion of all beings and of acceptance and to say that many different calls to God can and must exist in harmony. I often say this: That religion is not God and that God has no religion.
Q. While a lot of artists distance themselves from overt political gestures, you haven’t shied away from speaking out about things. Do you think it is essential for artists to have a social and political conscience and express it in their work?
A. I think if you have a voice, it is your duty to use it — wisely and judiciously — to speak out, to make a difference, for change and for the greater good of society. As an artist, I believe it is our moral responsibility to speak out in solidarity when there is suffering or pain, or when society needs to be reminded of something. For instance, when I did my version of Faiz’s “Hum Dekhenge”, it was not meant to be a political reaction. I created that piece in the hope of peace and out of the desire to speak for what I believe in when there was so much negativity around us. I blended Faiz’s words with Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Where the mind is without fear’ as a quiet appeal to the people of our country to remind them of our freedom.
Q. Your new song “Log Down” addresses the state of artists in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown. Tell us a bit more about that.
A. Artists have had absolutely no means of generating any income with very limited platforms for creative expression during the pandemic. The saddest part is that the arts have been listed not only as non-essential but also low on the list of non-essential items. I find that quite appalling to be honest, and would like to ask the people who made this list to try and live without art for even one day — to not listen to music or chants in the morning, to not watch anything on TV, to not read a book, and to not wear the fabrics woven by our craftspeople. India has such a wealth of incredible art and craft and it is very disheartening to see that artists have got no support.
So, I wrote the “Log Down” song because so many artists are struggling to make ends meet. And also because I was bemused by the number of people who would call artists including myself, to perform for free, completely ignoring the fact that we as artists also have families to feed and need a means of an income to survive.
Q. Is it true that you produced “Log Down” without leaving your home?
A. Yes, I recorded the audio at home, shot it at home, edited it, produced it, did the costumes, everything! In fact, it was shot in one take so there are no cuts and it didn’t need editing. I shot it on my phone with no one behind the camera — I just put it on a tripod and recorded it. For the music, I reached out to a couple of musicians who sent me their parts over email and another musician friend, Saptak Chatterjee, produced it for me. My dholak player, Tarit Pal, came to my house only for the shoot and was wearing a mask the whole time. Even the dogs in the video are mine and played their supporting roles very well.
Q. How do you see concerts and live musical performances happening post-Covid?
A. While a lot of concerts are happening online, the joy of engaging with a live audience is unparalleled. The relationship of love and the energy that fills an arena or even a small room is something artists and audiences are craving for at this point. So I do believe they will happen and when they do, they will be really special. I think for a while, event organisers will need to be creative in the way they present an artist or event, making sure they follow the norms of social distancing and safety, but they will figure out a way to make it happen. In some parts of the world, there are already drive-in concerts where the audience sit in their cars while watching a band perform on stage so I do see it happening, and hopefully soon!
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ARJUN TAKES TIME OFF FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
MUMBAI: Arjun Kapoor has decided to opt for a digital detox for some time. On Monday, Arjun took to Instagram Story and posted a note that read, “Time to disappear.” His post hinted at a break from social media.
Also, as per a trade source, Arjun wants to give his full attention to ‘Ek Villain Returns’ shoot. “He is currently shooting some very important scenes for Ek Villain 2 and he wants to completely surrender to the process. He will be vanishing from social media for the next 4-5 days till he doesn’t finish this important shooting sequence,” the source added.
Directed by Mohit Suri, ‘Ek Villain Returns’ is the sequel of ‘Ek Villain’, which featured Sidharth Malhotra, Shraddha Kapoor, and Riteish Deshmukh in the lead roles. The upcoming project also stars John Abraham, Disha Patani and Tara Sutaria.
PRIYANKA SHARES GLIMPSE OF HER SCUBA DIVING SESSION
MUMBAI: Priyanka Chopra Jonas had a great weekend amidst the marine life as she went scuba diving into the azure blue waters of Spain. She posted a string of images and videos from her scuba diving session on Instagram. “There are days when the stress just needs to be silenced! What better way to do that than to explore the glorious underwater creations of God. I was very honoured that the camera crew from Citadel let me crash their party! Big shoutout to the @alisubbuceo team. Penelope, Victor, Alejandro and everyone else, thank you for such a magical experience. I really needed it!! Thank you @tsigel for taking us out! So fun hanging with Sam, Paul, Josh ,Tobias, Andy, Christina and Victor.Sunday well done! PS: @franklinjonas so happy you’re here,” Priyanka captioned the post.
She also posted a few more pictures and videos on her Instagram stories. In one of the images, Priyanka can be seen laughing wholeheartedly. “A much needed day in the ocean,” she wrote.
KARTIK’S ‘DHAMAKA’ TO BE OUT ON NETFLIX ON 19 NOV
MUMBAI: Kartik Aaryan is all set to create dhamaka with his upcoming film ‘Dhamaka’, which is scheduled to release on 19 November this year.
Directed by Ram Madhvani, ‘Dhamaka’ will stream on Netflix. Also, the first official trailer of the film will be out on Tuesday. As per a statement, ‘Dhamaka’ follows the story of an ambitious ex-news anchor Arjun Pathak, played by Kartik, who is given another chance to go live on prime-time television when a terrorist calls him with a bomb threat. Little does he know that this call will change his life and throw him into a fast-paced game of betrayal.
Amruta Subhash, Vikas Kumar, and Vishwajeet Pradhan are also a part of the upcoming movie. Mrunal Thakur has a special appearance in the film.
‘BADHAAI HO’ TRIGGERED IMPORTANT CONVERSATION IN INDIA ABOUT LATE PREGNANCY: AYUSHMANN
MUMBAI: Ayushmann Khurrana feels happy to be a part of films that deliver important messages. His film ‘Badhaai Ho’, which completed three years on Monday, is one among them.
“Most of my films are meant for families to come in and engage, take back an important message and most importantly, be thoroughly entertained. I have been blessed to find scripts that are new, unique and have a family audience skew as well. ‘Badhaai Ho, for me, ticked all these boxes and I’m thankful that the film triggered an important conversation in India about how society should react to late pregnancy. Society conditions us to react in a certain way when such things happen,” said Ayushmann. Helmed by Amit Sharma, the film revolves around a woman in her 50s who gets pregnant and has to face the wrath of society. Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, late Surekha Sikri and Sanya Malhotra also featured in it.
VIDYUT’S ‘KHUDA HAAFIZ’ SEQUEL TO BE SHOT IN EGYPT
MUMBAI: After shooting ‘Khuda Haafiz Chapter II: Agni Pariksha’ in Uttar Pradesh, filmmaker Faruk Kabir has now headed to Egypt to shoot a few crucial scenes of the film.
“We want to take the second part of Khuda Haafiz to whole another level. And, I think Egypt is the best location to shoot some of the most exciting and crucial sequences of the film. I am looking forward to this trip,” said Faruk. ‘Khuda Haafiz Chapter II: Agni Pariksha’ features Vidyut Jammwal and Shivaleeka Oberoi in the lead roles. The upcoming project is a sequel to ‘Khuda Haafiz’, which was released digitally last year. The first part revolved around Sameer Choudhary (Vidyut) and his mission to save his wife Nargis (Shivaleeka), who gets trapped in the flesh trade upon her arrival in the Middle East.
KRITI WRAPS UP ‘ADIPURUSH’, KICKSTARTS SHOOTING FOR ‘SHEHZADA’
NEW DELHI: Indeed a busy bee! Minutes after announcing her wrap-up from the movie ‘Adipurush’, Kriti Sanon informed her fans that she has kick-started shooting for her upcoming film ‘Shehzada’ also starring Kartik Aryan in the lead role.
Taking to her Instagram Story, Kriti shared a short video in which she could be seen getting her makeup done for the first shot of ‘Shehzada’. Sharing the video, Kriti wrote, “And #Shehzada ki Shehzadi ka Day 1.” Kriti tagged Kartik in the video, which led to a series of cute exchanges between the two stars on social media.
Kartik re-shared the video on his Instagram handle too and wrote, “shuru kijiye, mai bhi aaya,” and added a heart emoticon to it. Reposting his video reply, Kriti wrote, “The place awaits you,” with a wink emoticon.
Helmed by Rohit Dhawan, ‘Shehzada’ will mark the second collaboration between Kriti and Kartik after their hit 2019 romantic film ‘Luka Chuppi’.
The upcoming project is an action-packed, musical, family film, which will be shot over various schedules in Mumbai and Delhi in the next several months and is expected to release on November 4 next year.
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