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By Sudisha Limbu
In April this year, Munish Raizada Films debuted Transparency: Pardarshita, a Hindi-language political documentary that talks about the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement that was at its peak in 2011-2012. The documentary follows Doctor Munish Raizada as he interviews various political figures, analysts and journalists who followed the movement closely and saw the genesis of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by Arvind Kejriwal. The documentary is an effort towards analyzing the emergence of AAP and to provide a view of the politics that took place behind the curtains of hype, fanfare and glamorized good intentions.
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The documentary also features three original soundtracks that go well with the themes it explores over the course of its 6 episodes. For this article, I would like to talk about one soundtrack in particular.
Bol Re Dilli Bol is a well put together song composed by Pravesh Mallick with poignant lyrics by Annu Rizvi, and sung by Kailash Kher, a well-known name in India. The lyrics are directed not towards the listener or the viewer but towards the city of Delhi, the country’s capital that was also the hub of the IAC movement and AAP, as Kher beseeches that Dilli unravel the stories of corruption that it hides in its bosom. The music video for the song shows images of Delhi and the dilapidated state it is in while the lyrics tell the tale of a city that has been cheated and put to shame by its own. [Spoilers ahead] The music video also features snippets of the interviews conducted by Dr. Raizada with various people pointing out the failings of AAP and Kejriwal, while the video itself cuts to images of Kejriwal when the lyrics go Jhooth ka jisne peeta dhol, Khol de uski pol (Expose the one who beats the drum of lies).
Watch the video for Bol Re Dilli Bol here:
Many promises were made during the emergence of AAP concerning efforts to fight corruption and bring about better days for the city and its people, none of which saw the light of day. Eventually AAP, and Kejriwal by extension, did what almost all political parties do once they gain momentum- they exchanged the hopes of those who trusted them for the very things they said they would help fight. When viewed from this standpoint, one realizes that Transparency is an excellent name for the documentary as it provides a holistic analysis of how AAP lost just that (the party eventually removed the list of donors who were funding or providing chanda to the party, which is referenced frequently by the song and the music video) and thereby lost its supporters, and the song does not distract from this message but rather adds nuance to it.
Doctor Raizada is a neonatologist based in Chicago who was at the forefront of the IAC movement and a core member of AAP.
Pravesh Mallick is an Indian and Nepali composer, songwriter and playback singer who has worked in several movies and projects including ‘Transparency: Pardarshita‘, ‘Jai Gangaajal’, ‘Bareilly ki Barfi‘ and many more. He is currently residing in Mumbai and has been working as a composer-singer and music teacher for the last 12 years. Sarthak Kumar got an opportunity to chat with him and get to know him better. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Sarthak: I’ve heard your song ‘Bol Re Dilli Bol’ many times and I like the tune. I find it really catchy. Apart from this, you’ve worked with big banners and big movies like ‘Jai Gangaajal’ and ‘Bareilly ki Barfi‘. So, where did this journey of yours begin and what has it been like?
Pravesh Mallick: My family comes from a musical background and hence I’ve been exposed to it since childhood. Most of the people in my family are related to music. My paternal grandfather used to play tabla, my father is a singer, and my brothers are into singing and tabla too. But I’m the only one who’s into music professionally.
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Listen to the Song Bol Re Dilli Bol here-
Sarthak: Where are you living these days?
Pravesh Mallick: I’m currently living in Mumbai.
Sarthak: And how are you spending the lockdown?
Pravesh Mallick: Lockdown is the same for everyone and it hasn’t affected me much. Infact, I’m getting more creative ideas these days. Like, previously I wasn’t working on my YouTube channel because I was occupied with some big banner songs. Also, during the lockdown, I composed a song for News24 which got so viral that PM Modi tweeted that song. Then I received a call from the Government of India, asking me to compose another song on Coronavirus. So, I made that song which was launched on the official website of the Government of India. In all, I mean to say that I’ve worked a lot during the lockdown period. I even released 4-5 songs on my YouTube channel and all of them are written in my native language Maithili. I’ve been appreciated a lot for these songs as most of the people are losing contact from their mother tongue, so it makes them feel connected to their roots and I’ve also used Bollywood like technology in the making of these songs.
Sarthak: Can you tell us more about those songs?
Pravesh Mallick: Yes, the first song that I released during lockdown was ‘Pardesiya‘, then the second one was ‘Julum Kare Na’, the third one was launched on Mother’s Day and is called ‘Mother Song’, and the fourth one ‘Jhingoor’ was released recently. You know, I received a call from an acquaintance, all the way from the US. He told me that initially his kids never used to listen to Maithili songs or speak Maithili, but ever since they’ve heard my song, they’re continuously listening to it and trying to speak Maithili. And that is a huge compliment for me. I feel like I’ve made something from which people can connect to their roots. So, in all, this lockdown has been great for me.
Sarthak: Sir, where are you from and what is your birthplace?
Pravesh Mallick: My father is from Bihar and my mother is from Nepal. And yes, my birthplace is also Bihar.
Sarthak: Sir, would you like to share any of your school memories related to your passion for music?
Pravesh Mallick: The typical middle-class families expect their son to be a doctor or an engineer. Thankfully, in my family, I have people who understand me. I was fairly good at academics but my father wanted at least one of his sons to be a doctor. So, to pursue medical, I joined many coachings and all. I have attended coaching in Patna and Kathmandu, but till then 2 or 3 albums of mine were already out and I had become quite a popular name. Many people told my father that I can do better in music and that I already have many achievements. After that, I left medical and came to Delhi to study. I continued with studies and also pursued my post-graduation in music from Delhi University.
Sarthak: Which was the first song that you ever composed?
Pravesh Mallick: It was a Nepalese song from an album but I never sang that song. Next was a Maithili song. There were 12-13 versions of this song which were made because back then, there were no copyright issue awareness. Even T-Series had copied that song.
BBC used my tunes for advertisements at that time. And then came out another album called ‘Geet Ghar Ghar Ke’, which was also in Maithili.
So yeah, this was my journey. Initially, I was just a composer but I tried singing when I came to Delhi. However, I’m more into composing. I just love composing songs. I got interested in singing only after I moved to Delhi. We also formed a musical band called ‘Sanidhya’ while I was in the music faculty of Delhi University. I made many friends there.
After completing my masters, I worked as a music teacher in ‘Step By Step School’, and there I made many new and talented friends. One of them was into guitar, the other one was a great singer, the third one was a violinist and the fourth one played tabla. So I got them all together, and formed a band. Our first show was a super hit! So the positive response and appreciation that we received, gave us the courage and motivation to work further. The journey of the band continued and I lived in Delhi for 13 years.
Sarthak: When did you come to Mumbai then?
Pravesh Mallick: I came to Mumbai in 2013 and I’ve been living here since then.
Sarthak: So, when did you get your first big break?
Pravesh Mallick: I got my first big break with the movie ‘Jai Gangaajal’. Mr. Santosh Mandal worked as an editor with Mr. Prakash Jha at that time. Santosh Ji and I turned out to be friends and he loved my music. He believed that my grip on folk music was strong. So, Mr. Prakash Jha was making the movie ‘Jai Gangajal’ and he wanted to make some changes in the music. He wanted a Bihari folk touch in his songs. So they auditioned around 11-12 people, but they couldn’t find what they were looking for. They wanted original folk music. Later on, Mr. Jha asked Santosh Ji if he knew anyone from Bihar who was suitable for the job. Santosh Ji suggested my name and asked him to meet me once. The next morning I received a call saying that Mr. Prakash Jha wanted to meet me. Till then, I hadn’t met any celebrity because those were my struggling days. Also, I’ve always been a big fan of his movies. So finally, I went to meet him and he auditioned me. He loved my music! Then he gave me 6 different situations and asked me to make 3 songs on each one of them within the next 3 days. I worked hard to complete this task and thankfully, 12 out of those 18 songs got selected. Then I was also asked to sing 2 songs in the film. So yeah, that’s how I got my first big break.
Sarthak: Sir, you have been a part of the political documentary ‘Transparency: Pardarshita’, and you have worked with Mr. Munish Raizada for the same. So how did you meet Mr. Munish?
Pravesh Mallick: I have a friend in Delhi, Annu Rizvi, who is an amazing lyricist and has also written songs in the same documentary. I met him when he was on a visit to Mumbai and we instantly became friends. He has worked in the television industry for 24 years, and there is a lot that I learnt from him. We used to share our experiences and knowledge, and hence we came closer. So, Annu Ji knew Munish Ji through a common friend, I guess. Munish Ji approached Annu Ji for writing the songs in ‘Transparency’. Then he asked Annu Ji if he knew someone who could give music for the project, and that is when Annu Ji suggested my name. Then, later on, I received a call from Munish Ji about the same.
Sarthak: Sir, ‘Transparency: Pardarshita’ is a political Documentary which exposes Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. So, when you were roped in for the project, did you do it like other professional assignments, or did your political opinions aligned with the opinions of the documentary and hence you got interested in it?
Pravesh Mallick: As a musician, it is my task to compose songs and I always listen to the director or the writer whenever I’m working on a project. They give me the situation according to which the song has to be made, and mostly even the lyrics are not prepared beforehand. But in this case, the situation and context were very clear to me and the lyrics were prepared and approved already. So, I completed this task professionally, like all other songs and also I’m not much into politics. I’m an artist, and I completed the work assigned to me, trying my best to bring Munish Ji’s imagination alive. That’s how I worked on this project.
Sarthak: It is a universal fact that Bollywood or the Music Industry is very competitive and not everyone gets a chance to showcase their talent. You didn’t have any connections in the industry, and you too have struggled a lot. So, what inspired you and kept you motivated to work hard and achieve your goals?
Pravesh Mallick: Initially, you are not confident about yourself and your work. I have been exposed to music since childhood, and hence the confidence and courage in me were built over time. And you struggle even in the process of learning. It’s not just about the struggle in Mumbai. Life in itself is a struggle, you know. But the struggle takes a different turn when you are in Mumbai.
My family has always been supportive of my work and my wife is a big source of motivation for me. My Guru Madhup Mudgal has also been an inspiration for me.
The people who learn and know music can relate to this- that even if I try to go off the track, music won’t allow me to. There’s this will to do something different which will never let me go off the track. So, my family’s support and knowledge of music have kept me together during all the struggles that I have faced. And I believe that even if someone has no work in hand, they should still keep themselves engaged.
We are thankful to Mr. Pravesh Mallick for taking out his precious time and speaking to us. We look forward to knowing him more and present his achievements and thoughts to the viewers.