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Tue, 16 Oct 2018

Northeast Today

Axl Hazarika: An Avant-Garde Creator

Axl Hazarika: An Avant-Garde Creator
October 10
18:20 2018

September Edition, Music

‘Goru Bihu’, a music video which has made a tremendous impact in the global arena with the official selection at more than 50 international film festivals across countries like Russia, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Africa, and the United States. Axl Hazarika, the technical head of Jyoti Chitraban Digital Archive and the man behind ‘Goru Bihu’ shares his melodious journey and the creation, processing and response of the music video in a candid chat with Chirasmrita Devi

How did music happen?

Having grown up in Assam Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s evergreen music, Assamese folk songs, and the rock culture of the northeast played major roles in growing my interest in music from early childhood. I started learning the guitar while in school and began composing music ever since I learnt the first 3 chords.

I released my first EP during my school days, a time when the metal music scene was at its infant stage in Assam. But it received positive feedback from the entire Indian rock and metal community. I continued working on experimental music. From rock to metal, electronica to jazz, I’ve tried experimenting and blending various music genres. So the majority of my compositions fall under the Avant-Garde genre. However, my latest releases have been targeted more towards mainstream listeners like the Hindi rock track Hum Badal Gaye and the Assamese EDM track – Goru Bihu Song. These have somehow overshadowed all my previous experimental works.

How the idea of ‘Goru Bihu’ creep in?

Goru Bihu Song is an experimental music video that captures the essence of Assamese folk Bihu dance and celebration of the spirit of Goru Bihu with cow face paint. Goru Bihu is a festival celebrated on the eve of the first day of Assamese calendar month of Bohag (mid-April during the start of spring), a day before Bohag Bihu, the harvest festival of Assam. The video is based on the futuristic imagination of Goru Bihu celebrations, away from the homeland, and in the absence of cows amidst a generation of technology-based live music performance.

It has been screened on many international platforms. Did you expect this while making it?

Goru Bihu Song got an official selection at the prestigious International Film Festival – 47th Sehsuchte in Germany. It’s an honour for us to have the video screened at the Babelsberg Film Studio, Hollywood’s oldest large-scale film studio, where our iconic Jyoti Prasad Agarwala learnt filmmaking. I personally attended the screening event in Germany. This is the first time that a music video from Assam about Bihu has received such a massive global response. It has also amassed more than a whopping million views on YouTube since its release.

The entire video is made with a very small crew and minimal budget at Jyoti Chitraban Film Studio where I have done the direction, editing, post-production & music with aid of my family members and close friends.

Were you worried that ‘Goru Bihu’ might create a controversy?

We never thought that a music video of an EDM song will create any kind of controversy or buzz as EDM music is nowhere near mainstream music in Assam. However, the music video of this folk-EDM song gained a lot of publicity in popular media mainly because of the theme of Goru Bihu – a festival of Assam. The music video of Goru Bihu Song was our futuristic visualization of the celebration of the festival in the absence of cows, away from our homeland. Although it received much appreciation from the veterans of the music & film industry of Assam, it gained much heat in debates on local television talk shows. This showed the lack of acceptance of experimental and avant-garde stuff among the media and masses of the region.

Story 37b- Music
Future plans

I am currently working on several new projects including few movie soundtracks. However, after visiting Babelsberg Film Studio, I am more inclined towards filmmaking. Nowadays, I am mainly busy with my debut Assamese film. Currently, we are in the pre-production phase. Apart from music, I am mostly involved with the cultural startup that I have recently founded under CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad. We are the first from northeast India to be doing a startup under IIM Ahmedabad. And, we have the national release of our 3D Animation film – “A Blind Dog” later this year. It is the first 3D animation film from Assam officially certified and censored by Central Board of Film Certification, India.

Message to our readers

Dream and target the international competition. Give your best shot in whatever you do. There are people all around the world with different sets of interests. If your work is not appreciated here, don’t think it doesn’t have an audience. You just have to extend your reach and spread your work as much as you can. Eventually, it will reach out to the correct audience. And final words to my native fellows, Joi Aai Axom!

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