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A Pakistani band that has Amrita Pritam’s poetry along with dohas by Kabir on their song list.

A slew of bands from India and neighbouring countries will be part of the fourth edition of the South Asian Bands Festival

A Pakistani band that has Amrita Pritam’s poetry along with dohas by Kabir on their song list,a Nepali band that brings folk music from terrains of the country that can only be reached on foot,a Bangladeshi band with its repertoire of baul songs with a contemporary flavour,meant to showcase a softer face of Islam,and a series of popular Indian bands,will all be a part of the this year’s South Asian Bands Festival. With 15 bands from across nine nations of the sub-continent all set to perform at the Purana Qila,starting tomorrow,Delhi will be a melting pot of different musical traditions for the next three days. “The audience for a rock festival has changed. The age group now ranges from seven-year-olds to people on wheelchairs,and much of this is because of the wide range of bands who perform at the festival,” says Sanjeev Bhargava,festival director,and the man behind the NGO Seher,which promotes cultural acitivities in the city.

Each evening at the festival will have four to five performances,each of an hour’s duration. The festival opens with the performance of Delhi-based Mrigya,whose music will comprise a rich blend of blues,funk,folk,latino,Indian classical and jazz. “This is our first time at the festival and we are really excited to share the stage with some of the best bands from the neighbouring countries. It will be quite an experience to share different ideas with different people. As for our music we have tweaked some songs and made them more rhythm-centric to suit the setting,” says Sharat Chandra Srivastav,lead violinist of the band.

The six-member popular Pakistani band Mekaal Hasan,that could not make it to India in October because of visa problems,is also going to be a part of the festival. “I was so touched by what Amrita Pritam wrote on Partition that this message of peace and harmony seemed apt for a festival in Delhi. People love us in Ghalib’s own city. For us relegion does not matter and that is the message we are coming with,” says Mekaal Hassan,the lead guitarist of the band who will combine poetry by Baba Bulleshah and Amir Khusrau with dohas by Kabir. The band will perform on Sunday.

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If last year was all about Kabul Dreams from Afghanistan and their rock music in Dari,Pushto and English,this year it’s the turn of Mawj,an eight-year-old band,who perform pop rock. “We are not dealing with political issues here. We just want to enjoy what we are doing and break into the mainstream Indian music with our brand of entertainment,” says Ajmal Omid,lead guitarist and the vocalist of the band.

Another interesting act to look out for will be Nepathya,from Nepal,whose last performance in India was in 2006. Lead singer Amrit Gurung,a staunch follower of Gandhi,has travelled most of Nepal on foot to discover folk songs that exist in the interiors of the nation. “These songs are unknown to the Nepali people themselves. Ours is a socialist band,” says Arpan Sharma,the band’s manager. The band has been around for the past 20 years.

Other participants at the festival include Traffic Jam from Maldives,folk rock band Ankur and the Ghalat Family,26-year-old Mumbai-based Indus Creed,Bangalore-based Thermal and a Quarter,Shillong-based Fourth Element and popular sufi-rock band Kailasa. Entry to the festival is free.

First published on: 11-12-2010 at 03:16:20 am
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