Vikram Gogoi – The soulful singer from Assam – interesting that he has learnt to speak in his mother tongue of late only – cares little for the stereotypes of Bollywood, but could bowl them out like in a game of Nine Pins!
When the melancholic bitter-sweet nostalgia of an Indie-Rock song “Ehsaas” by Vikram Gogoi, also featuring Pratiksha Gogoi, fills your mind and heart,you begin to wonder the source of grief, pain, and vulnerability after the loss of a loved one.
It’s the lyricist, composer, bassist and voice Vikram Gogoi who stands out with a unique blend of artistic sensibilities that may not be a national name yet, but its heartfelt pathos rendered in a voice that underlines originality stays with you.
In a country with diverse cultures – not to mention attitudes – it is almost criminal not to explore what many parts of India represent.
Or offer, in terms of a wide variety of food, rituals, cinema, habits, dress codes and music.
Ah! The strains of dulcet melodies are often heard but seldom accorded their legitimate ownership as Bollywood ditties tend to blatantly steal, or in many cases, cut, paste and copy from its original source.
It’s a case of sheer negligence where bigger sharks tend to consume the smaller fish to establish their hegemony.
In Sanskrit they call it matsyannyay.
I am referring to our country’s soul that has inherited musical lineage over centuries. It is, of course, largely undocumented, and thus, remains underappreciated.
When one is categorically informed that there’s a wealth of melodic harmony in umpteen compositions available in the northeast with its multiplicity of cultures and ethnic repertoire, the large chunk of majoritarian music aficionados cannot think beyond the airwaves emanating from Bollywood.
And do a double take when updated about numerous brilliant talents who may not be known in many parts of the country, but are global figures with a fan base in Europe and other nations.
A rare voice like Vikram Gogoi’s from Guwahati, whose Facebook profile indicates he is a “Musician/Actor/Anchor, who was formerly a Strategy Consultant,” and also founded tSAM – the School of Art & Music, to support deserving local talent, is one such rare talent waiting in the wings to be accepted nationwide
Shillong being the Rock Capital of India, with multiple rock bands and the most sought-after Hornbill National Rock Contest of Nagaland, attracts myriad talents from across the world.
A rare voice like Vikram Gogoi’s from Guwahati, whose Facebook profile indicates he is a “Musician/Actor/Anchor, who was formerly a Strategy Consultant,” and also founded tSAM – the School of Art & Music, to support deserving local talent, is one such rare talent waiting in the wings to be accepted nationwide.
Not that he needs any of patronising from Bollywood’s who’s who; he is clear in his mind: “I make my kind of music. I am a singer who attempts to express different emotions through my music.”
In the same breath, he is quick to add, “I never chase stage shows, or fame, or even money. That is not my criterion or essence of my music.”
The GenNext hooked onto Youtube and other music streaming platforms couldn’t have missed the soulful renditions of Na jaane…’ ‘Tere naion mein…’ ‘Sailor…’ Chhoti chhoti baton mein…’ Chand palon ki zindagi…’ and ‘Ma…’, in which his moving voice warbling pathos-ridden lyrics overrides the techno musicians’ state-of-the-art sound effects, urging listeners to press the repeat button for an encore.
Vikram has been on a marathon soundtrack spell recording as many as 25-songs editing, filming and releasing them one by one.
“Out of these, 10 are in Hindi, nine Western and the rest in Assamese. All the tracks in Hindi talk about different aspects of life with strong undercurrents of emotive strength while the western songs convey happy mood.
“The ones in Assamese will take you back to the music of the 80s with a consistent focus on retro. But all the tracks talk about life in general.”
A self-taught professional whose influences include Arun Das, Rahul DevBurman, Kishore Kumar and his singer father at home, Vikram attended many music workshops and seminars, “to educate myself about the subtleties and finer nuances of music.
“But what my primary nucleus from where my kind of music emerges are the deep-seated emotions that must accompany meaningful and earnest lyrics,” he adds.
That does say a lot about his supreme self confidence in an era of several ambitious but self-proclaimed musicians who are happy belting out inspired music in their ‘me-too’ acts.
“The influence of Michel Jackson, RD Burman, Kishore Kumar and ghazals cannot be ruled out in my music.”
Vikram is also an actor, having acted in a stellar role in the Assamese film, III Smoking Barrels – an anthology of three stories; each exploring a different stage in life – a child involved in armed conflicts, a boy in drug peddling and a man entangled in elephant poaching.
“Acting happened by accident when the film’s director, Sanjib Dey, spotted me while I was performing on stage and insisted that I play one of the significant parts in the film,” he laughs while emphasizing that acting is not really his true calling.
“I am, and will always be, a musician.”
He also clarifies that before becoming a singer, “I was happy being a bassist and singing just followed.”
”I did understand the language but couldn’t speak it well until very lately, and therefore, did not listen to much music from my part of the country.”
Doesn’t Bollywood with its multifarious influences motivate or inspire him?
“It does. But I am more inspired by western artists, and so, I am all for world music. I want to travel and learn from across the various regions.”
His choice also explains why northeast India is a paradise where the large cauldron comprising multiplicity of various philosophies, values and ethnicities merge into one despite the firmly rooted indigenous culture thriving incessantly.
Though not new to music lovers in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Goa and New Delhi, where he has lived and performed on stage for his fans, he has a definite unambiguous agenda.
“I am not really looking at Bollywood alone. Being single I want to explore music as much as I can. But not necessarily looking for opportunities to grab the mike and sing for a large audience.
“I’d be happy performing for just 2-3 people for a more intimate interaction with those who appreciate the depths of music.”
That must be serving as a catalyst for individual musicians such as Vikram Gogoi to dream, and accomplish their goals!
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Arnab has been a journalist and a keen film enthusiast, and has worked with some of the leading national dailies like Times of India, Hindustan Times and Mail Today. He has been a business journalist and later focussed on features specialising in stories on music, films, music & film personalities; art, culture, books, and social issues.