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A khaki band from Himachal’s hills strikes the right notes

The band recently took part in a reality competition on an entertainment channel and stood third among several professional musicians. Harmony of the Pines now plans to take this forward, not just to showcase its talent but to bridge a gap of trust between the public and police.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar | Shimla |
Updated: July 16, 2022 10:50:00 pm
Harmony of the Pines performing in Solan. (Photo: Facebook/Himachal Pradesh Police Orchestra)

Last week, a minute-long reality show clip of a troupe covering a popular Bollywood song began doing the rounds on social media.

Amid the praise for the professional performance, a key element of the 17-member group stood out. The band members all wore khaki uniforms — representing the police of Himachal Pradesh.

Now, with widespread recognition and requests to perform across the country, Harmony of the Pines, the Himachal Pradesh Police band, has become something of a phenomenon.

The band charges nearly Rs 1 lakh for performances within the state and Rs 1.5 lakh outside. (Express photo)

The band recently took part in a reality competition on an entertainment channel and stood third among several professional musicians. Harmony of the Pines now plans to take this forward, not just to showcase its talent but to bridge a gap of trust between the public and police.

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The police band was formed in 1996 and initially had small performances with limited band members. Over the years, new recruits became part of the group for small periods, offering several skills from singing to percussion.

“The most important part of our performance is our synchronisation. Like a jigsaw puzzle, every member plays a crucial part to make up the complete picture. At the moment, we share a good understanding which is helping our music. Because of the support we have got from our department, we have been able to cultivate talent. It has been a long journey and we are still in the process of perfecting our craft,” said sub-inspector Vijay Kumar.

The band practices for eight hours everyday in a studio situated within the Police Lines in Barari. The officers also have police duties based on events and deployment schedules which are managed along with the band commitments. Many band members come from remote hamlets of the state and are adjusting to the newfound recognition.

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“I come from a small area and did not have access to many resources. It was hard work because of which I was able to join the police. I always liked singing from a young age. There was a lot of enthusiasm for music. It still feels surreal that I am able to sing while wearing the khaki,” said constable Deepika Thakur, one of the band’s singers.

The troupe has vocalists, a rhythm guitarist, a saxophonist, a bassist, keyboards players, and percussion artists along with a sound engineer. It specialises in fusion music, blending harmonies of western and classical instruments. During a three-month stint in Mumbai for the show, the band earned praise from popular artistes, film directors and other celebrities.

This month, it performed at the Wagah Border to a crowd of nearly a lakh. The members recall this performance as one of their most special ones — they even received messages of support from across the border. The band also played live music for the recently concluded Shimla Summer Festival. Besides live performances, it has composed songs to spread awareness about Covid, drug abuse and other social issues. On Instagram, the band has amassed more than 1.3 lakh followers.

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The band charges nearly Rs 1 lakh for performances within the state and Rs 1.5 lakh outside. For performances abroad, the band will charge nearly Rs 2 lakh. This money goes directly into the purchase of instruments, maintenance and other management expenses.

“The band can be seen as a humane side of the police and also a display of pure talent. There are many creative people in the state. The department has been consistently supporting them and will continue to do so in its future endeavours. They are thorough professionals as police officers and musicians. The band is in a lot of demand as there are many requests. They will prove to be a crucial element in national building,” said Sanjay Kundu, Himachal Pradesh DGP.

Any new police recruit can write to the police chief expressing their willingness to join the band. A committee including the band’s head and other department members looks into the induction depending on the requirement, officials said.

The department is now looking to develop a Coke Studio-like setup for the band in order to display a range of music with live performance elements, said officials. The band will also be expanded in the coming times in terms of capacity and variety of music to help it transform into a full-fledged philharmonic.

“We have been approached to perform abroad. The process to apply for a Guinness World Record has also begun since we are the first khaki band to perform on TV over a period of time and secure a position. It is truly a wonderful feeling since the public can also create a feeling of trust in the police. From small villages to big stages, the band will be looking to scale new heights,” said Vijay.

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First published on: 16-07-2022 at 10:00:59 pm

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