Zubeen Garg, who has acquired cult status in the state, got undivided attention of theatre and music lovers at the Rongali — Destination, Culture, Harmony — a festival of Assam, when he hit the stage as an actor and later as a singer. The three-day fest, which also showcased exhibitions of horticulture and handicraft products, and northeast cuisine, started on January 29.
With an aim to promote Assam as an adventure sports destination, Rongali took the first step towards it by starting the day one of the fest with aero sports like parasailing, paragliding and paramotoring. In fact, Zubeen launched the first flight. He flew over the mighty river Brahmaptura for half an hour. “It was a lot of fun. I love doing adventurous things. If you promote such activities nicely, I am sure Assam can be an adventure sports destination. Assam has the potential,” Zubeen said.
After catching an aerial view of the city, his Abhinaya team presented distinguished playwright-songwriter Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s immortal drama ‘Karengor Ligiri’. He sang and portrayed a role in the play. “I did a cameo. It’s a very old play. It’s a simple love story. It’s a periodic one with kings and queens. I tried to give Opera music to it,” he said.
Soon after the play, musicians Mayukh Hazarika and Anaya Brahma entertained the attendees with their songs that were mostly in Assamese. Zubeen concluded the first day of the fest with his peppy numbers, and paying a tribute to the legendary composer S.D. Burman by singing “Sun mere bandhu re..” from the 1959 movie ‘Sujata’. The audience enjoyed each and every number played by Zubeen, who turned up in a pair of white pants, shirt and a jacket with a bandana. But it was Bihu songs that were on the lips of the crowd. He finally gave in to their demand and performed on his Bihu song “Morilong morilong lagi jai..”. While some did the Bihu dance on their spot, others got close to the stage and matched steps with the strong beats.
The third day of the fest, which is being organised by the socio-cultural trust of Assam Trend MMS in association with Hotel & Restaurants Association of Assam, Assam Tourism, department of cultural affairs, government of Assam, and Ministry of Youth Affairs, government of India, started on a powerful note with Nishant Hagjer passionately playing the drums. After his energetic performance, Amjad Ali Khan took the stage with his two tabla players – Shubh Maharaj and Satyajit Talwalkar.
Before starting with a recital, the sarod expert, who is married to Subhalakshmi Barua Khan, said: “It’s an honour to be here.” He also hoped that more tourists visit the northeastern state. Paying respect to the 13th century Sufi poet Amir Khusro, Amjad Ali Khan vocalised and played a tarana. But what drew loud applause from the audience, which mostly consisted of localites, was when he said: “After my marriage in Assam, I learnt folk music. I will play a Bihu song and folk music from Bengal.”
The attendees, mostly youngsters who had come over to dance to the beats of DJ Nucleya, were left enchanted. The last classical piece was with his two accomplished sons Amaan and Ayaan, who first touched his feet and then sat down next to him to create magic with their sarod. Amidst performance, Amjad Ali Khan also stressed on the importance to stay connected to music. “Keep listening to music as it connects the whole world. It’s a precious gift of god.” The Padam Vibhushan awardee, who was conferred an honorary doctorate last year by Kaziranga University in Assam for his contribution towards Indian culture and music, was also felicitated at the fest along with his family and the tabla players. The star family then thanked the audience in Assamese.
This was followed by a presentation on Assam film industry, which began its voyage in 1935. George Baker and Binita Borgohain Mitra – the stars of 1975 Assamese drama film ‘Chameli Memsaab’ took the stage and praised the film industry, which completed 80 years last year. George, a member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), said that lately the censor board has been in news for various controversies, but he is glad that “not a single Assamese film had made a controversy. We have to keep going ahead”.
The second edition of the fest then focused on fashion with Assamese designers like Dhiraj Deka and Garima Saikia Garg showcasing their colourful creations. Going back to music, popular singer Papon was happy to perform in his home state again. Apart from some of his Assamese numbers, he made the crowd sway to his Bollywood hit songs like “Tu jo mila” and “Moh moh ke dhaage”, which he sang along with a female singer named Sharmishtha. He ended his performance with a Bihu song. The city’s Sonaram field was filled with people enjoying his music and doing the Bihu dance.
Papon then gave way to DJ Nucleya, who performed in Assam for the first time on such a large scale. He was set to play in the afternoon, but the city’s music lovers’ eagerness to catch him live made the organisers push his performance to the end. That was certainly a wise call as the youngsters were more than eager to dance to EDM tracks. “We don’t have EDM festivals as such. Assam is mostly about rock and folk music, so having DJ Nucleya here is a thrilling experience. Having him as the last act instead of Papon or Zubeen Garg was a good change,” said a 22-year-old, who reached the venue in the afternoon itself.
The DJ did not leave the crowd disappointed. With hands up in the air and feet moving to the fast-paced songs, the attendees surely had a good time. Some of them even got on stage to dance to songs like “Laung gawacha” and “Akkad bakkad”.The visuals on the screen behind him encouraged the crowd to dance even more. There were visuals of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan doing the signature “Hudd hudd dabangg” moves, and also of comedy star Rowan Atkinson, famously known as “Mr. Bean”, shaking a leg. His show went beyond midnight, still the crowd shouted: “Once more.”With such a diverse line-up of artistes, the fest concluded on a musical note on January 31.