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Papon: I have experienced racial discrimination in Delhi, but I would just laugh at it

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4 November,2014: Assamese singer, composer and producer Angaraag Mahanta, popularly known as Papon, talks about the melodious northeast, Bollywood music, and his days in Delhi.

I can’t represent the northeast

Recently, someone asked me to represent the northeast, but I refused because I can’t represent the northeast. It’s too culturally diverse for one person from one section to represent. It’s really important for people to understand that.

Music goes beyond political boundaries

I was born and brought up in Assam, so my first language is Assamese and my first songs were also in Assamese. But eventually, I realised that to grow in the industry, I have to learn to perform in other languages as well, otherwise my language would become a huge barrier for me. Now, I’ve sung in Punjabi, Marathi, Nepali, Urdu and even Tamil. Of course, sometimes I had no idea what I was singing, but it was fun. However, I also make it a point to sing Assamese songs no matter where I’m performing. Recently, when I was performing in Scotland, I sang a lot of Assamese songs and the crowd loved all of them, and even asked for an encore. This just shows that music goes beyond political boundaries. Look at Kumaon and Assam, they are so far geographically, yet I have performed in both languages and they sound so similar!

Why the northeast is so culturally rich

The northeast is culturally rich – the folklore is so rich, and in terms of music, we do more music than the rest of the country. The people from the northeast are very calm, relaxed, content and hence, musical. Today, music circles in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru etc are teaming up with musicians from the northeast. But we need a good platform in the northeast for all the talent to be shared.
My time in Delhi

I have stayed in Delhi for 15 years. I came here to study architecture, but that didn’t happen and I started pursuing English literature from Ramjas College, Delhi University, and later went to Motilal Nehru College. But even that didn’t work out, and then music happened and eventually Bollywood kept me busy. I’ve lived and hung out almost everywhere in Delhi. I first stayed in North campus, which is where every northeastern student who came to DU to study stayed at that point. After Ramjas, I moved to Safdarjung Enclave, Munirka, and Gautam Nagar as I had a lot of friends living there. Of course, I have experienced racial discrimination in the capital. But I would just laugh at it as that was the only way I thought I could deal with it. We look different, speak a different language, but we are from the same country! And we too should try to blend in wherever we go.

Indian music is more than Bollywood

Indian music is much, much beyond Bollywood. We have a huge thing for Bollywood, so much so that no other genre can come up in India. I do a lot of indie music, Sufi and rock. But there aren’t many platforms for these alternate genres in India. I have done a few Bollywood numbers, including Kyon? in Barfi! and I have many projects coming up, but I’m focusing on my own music more.
I want to add here that it didn’t matter where I came from, when I entered the industry. My Hindi is really good and I have a good voice for playback singing. So, Bollywood was nothing but encouraging to me.

Source:The Times of India

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