‘Parcham’ comes with new album of protest songs

Last Updated: Oct 07, 2012, 13:19 PM IST

New Delhi: Progressive music squad `Parcham` has brought together iconic protest songs of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bob Dylan and Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti in their album `Soorat Badalni Chaahiye`, saying the prevailing circumstances in the country demand them.

"We have been singing songs of the people, their problems and their struggles. The current circumstances, the issues ranging from price rise, the land question and unemployment to the wars in various parts of the world demand such songs, such protest music and reflect the people`s struggles against them," said Parcham`s director Kajal Ghosh.

Born in the early 1980s, the group has released four cassettes of over 40 revolutionary songs - `Aman ke Hum Rakhwale`, `Halla Bol`, `Jal Rahi Hai Zindagi` and one in the memory of noted theatre artiste Safdar Hashmi. They were received well and continue to be in demand even today.

But soon the struggle of daily life caught up with them though they never abandoned the idea of bringing out another album of protest songs.

The latest album comes after a gap of 20 years but Ghosh says they plan to make it a regular event now on in their effort to carry forward the legacy of the Indian People`s Theatre Association (IPTA).

"We formed the group 33 years ago but after some time everyone got busy with their lives though the group never broke up. We kept meeting and performing but we felt that now was the time that we should bring this album and we plan to make it a regular affair," says Ghosh.

The new album contains eight songs, seven of which have been translated collectively by Parcham. The translations are of well-known songs from all over the world.

They include Bob Dylan`s `Blowin` in the Wind, Paul Robeson`s `Ol` Man River`, the Cuban song authored by renowned revolutionary and nationalist Jose Marti, `Guantanamera`, Salil Chowdhury`s `Bhor ke rahi` and Faiz Ahmed Faiz`s famous `Darbar-e-Watan`.

Ghosh, a noted music director of the theatre world, cites Salil Chowdhury`s song `O Alor Potho Jatri` from the latest album to describe why they felt it was right time to bring the album now.

"The song, written right after the Independence, says that `Don`t think you have reached your destination, it is still the night`. It is as true as it was in 1947. We translated that song in Hindi. We all come from different backgrounds but if you want to reach a maximum people in North India, it is better to translate it in Hindi," he adds.

The process of translating the songs and putting them to tune was a lengthy and collective one. The latest album is more international than their previous attempts.

"Over the years, the issues have not really gone away, they come back in different forms. These songs are internationally known and have been sung by people all over the world so we thought why not translate them in Hindi. We have tried to stay as close to the original as possible," says Parcham member Vijaya Venkataraman.

When asked how they plan to take the album to people, she said, "We wish to take it to universities and colleges. There are institutes which are interested and then our existing fan base is looking forward to the album."

Parcham would release the album on October 11 in collaboration with Sahmat and Act-One to commemorate the 45th death anniversary of Latin American revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara on October 9.

Noted Sufi singer Madan Gopal Singh and contemporary folk artist Jasbir Jassi will perform on the occasion.