It’s not just the music of Guwahati-based artiste Axl Hazarika that is futuristic (he does “EDM folk”). Based on his viral music video, Goru Bihu Song, it’s evident that he’s a man who likes to think ahead. “Imagine a future where we forget the concept of Goru Bihu,” he says. The first day of the Assamese harvest festival Rongali Bihu, is called Goru Bihu and is usually dedicated to the care and reverence of livestock. Hazarika’s music video, which has garnered over a million views on Youtube, is a curious ode to the day, complete with Bihu dancers masked in cow face paint (apparently, a thing in Ireland) and EDM.
On April 13, Hazarika received a letter from the 47th Sehsüchte Festival, one of the biggest film festivals in Europe, stating that his video has made it to an official screening there. “I am happy that the Bihu dance form will get represented on a global platform through the video,” he says, “If Bhangra has proliferated so much, so can a dance form like Bihu.”
The video, however, apart from its international accolades and viral appreciation, has also got a fair share of flak. Traditionalists of the Assamese society criticised the video for misrepresenting the festival. But Hazarika claims that he has been careful about the same. “I haven’t used any traditional Assamese instrument, neither a dhul (drum) nor a baahi (flute)—it’s proper EDM, just that it has Bihu dancers,” he says.
The musician’s psytrance mix Trippy Experience has remained on top of SoundCloud’s Trance Global charts ever since it released in October 2015 — a first for any Indian artist. He is also involved in a project with the Jyoti Chitraban Studio — Northeast India’s only film studio — to digitise and preserve the forgotten music, videos, films, documentaries and photographs of Assam.
The video, which will screen at the festival on April 28 in Germany, fuses Bihu dance moves with EDM and lyrics which invoke the season of spring. It is a little bizarre but that’s hardly Hazarika’s concern. “This kind of an imaginative scene denotes that anybody in any part of the world under any circumstances can celebrate Goru Bihu — what matters most is the spirit, not the show,” he says.