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Chutney music: A story of women empowerment

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the symbol of the genre suggests celebration of female body

BY MEGHA SHARMA

This video is an analysis of the Trinidadian Chutney music by Dr. Kumar Mahabir. He has a YouTube channel with his name, where he focuses on the Indo-Caribbean relations. He is an eminent anthropologist and a professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. It was uploaded on 6th of July in 2012. It is interesting to note how this music with its origins in a Hindu wedding ceremony of cooking night. The dance was triggered by the labour class women of the place. Chutney is an Indian delicacy, used-as a side dish in most of the Indian households. it is a mixture of various spices, also known as a pickle. The Music is native to Trinidad and is a hypnotic, explosive, fast-tempo one with simple refrain verse (repeating the signature line) with Hindi lyrics.

It was performed by women mainly, though now it is a male dominant space. The women, who used to perform it, gave it a private space and involved in erotic dances. While the ceremony was going on, no man was allowed to enter the space. Today, the genre has been reinvented and one has different variations in it with Chutney soca (a Trinidadian style music), Chutney parang (Trinidadian folk music performed at Christmas), Chutney gospel (ethics), etc.

a still from the Chutney soca dance
a still from the Chutney soca dance

The researcher has done a study of some chutney songs which here I would discuss. Down the ages, one has seen how women have been looked as a property by women. They are possessions and an entity of the private sphere. Thus a release from the longish submission is always impossible. However, this genre of Music, a dominant working of Trinidadian females, comes across as a crucial step towards self- development.

The Dance and Music performed in it, as Dr Kumar observes, gives them liberty to perform. This liberty is inclusive of a celebration of their body, which is unthinkable within the public space they are devoid of. Today, the performances have increased and found a great excursion of women in the public domain. In 1960’s, when the feminist movement was at its peak, this traditional genre broke out and opened up ways for these women artists. These artists were disdained in the initial years (Alice Jan and Champa Devi being the first of them), and were regarded as immoral.

In the later years, the dancing and singing was made much available to the women of Trinidad. The performances brought profitable amount for them. The lines between the private and the public sphere are now blurred and it is seen how the exposure is given to the women who stand aside with men. They perform, dance, sing and even register their own subjection before the audience. The songs are their verbal accounting of denial of submission and being restricted to a private space.

The research further moves giving details of the outreach of this genre. Not only literature, but media, social media and even renowned music accounts include celebrate their existence. Therefore, one sees how a minor feminine genre has achieved greater names in and about the world.

(Megha is a student at the University of Delhi. She is pursuing her masters and has done her studies in german language.) GMAIL- loveme2010.ms@gmail.com

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Music Composer A.R. Rahman Feels That Indie and English Music Need To Be Nurtured

NEXA Music will kick off with the launch of four original tracks sung by acclaimed celebrity artists Rahman, Anushka Manchanda, Nikhil D'souza and Uday Benegal

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A.R Rahman. Wikimedia

Veteran music composer A.R. Rahman has said that Indie and English music have always been like an underdog in India but it needs to be helped and nurtured in coming years.

Rahman was interacting with the media at a press conference of Nexa Music launch along with artists Uday Benegal, Clinton Cerejo, Anushka Manchanda, Nikhil D’souza and R S Kalsi, senior executive director-marketing and sales Maruti Suzuki India on Wednesday in Mumbai.

The initiative by NEXA is curated to provide aspiring Indian musicians a platform to compose original lyrics. NEXA Music invites entries from budding musicians across the country to participate in it.

The participants will be mentored by famous music composers and global music icon A R Rahman, supported by singer Clinton Cerejo.

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When asked if he feels that English and Indie music in India is going to capture the market, he said, “It needs to be helped and it needs to be nurtured. I think nothing is wrong with film music. It’s beautiful but it has been commissioned like, there you have to write for a situation and those are limited but I think here whole universe is your imagination.”

“Sometimes Indie music actually inspires movies and I want that to happen. I want a song from Indie music to go in film music. It is not a compulsion but I feel people’s mind should never be closed.”

When asked what benefit singers and musicians are going to get through Nexa Music, he said, “They are mainly going to get exposure from this venture. We are not telling many things because we don’t want to promise too much and not deliver. This is just the first step and second step is something on which we are working on.”

NEXA Music will kick off with the launch of four original tracks sung by acclaimed celebrity artists Rahman, Anushka Manchanda, Nikhil D’souza and Uday Benegal. (IANS)