Tag: Urban Punjabi

Can Bollywood Keep Up With Ms. Kardashian?

10Oct

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If there’s a Bollywood Director out there, email us for Kim Kardashian’s agents number, she has recently expressed interest in taking on Bollywood. We’re sure you wouldn’t have any trouble finding a leading man for this Armenian bombshell.

“I would love to be in a Bollywood movie. Every time I see a Bollywood film it seems so glamorous. My brother actually went to India once and came back with all this amazing jewellery and so many stories. I would love to go there.”

India has got the best of Kim, since she’s been spending time in Dubai (We are sure she knows Dubai ISN’T in India) there’s no immediate plans for the Kardashian sisters to open up a Kash store, however, she’s excited to open up”Millions of Milkshakes” in Dubai.

Remember the string of sweet and funny tweets Jay Sean left for Kim? Perhaps the next time he tours India, he should take Kim along!

PS. Bollywood Directors, if Kim has trouble crying on cue? Just hide her earrings! You will get more tears than Kareena Kapoor!

Hargo Boparai Soon to Release Bhangra Album”Bhangrafornia” Putting California on the Map!

2Aug

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Do you feel like the Bhangra scene has been lacking good traditional music producers? Don’t worry. There’s finally a breathe of fresh air.

A new Pujabi music producer hailing from the San Francisco- Bay Area, Hargo Boparai is set to release a  his Bh261639_250043068345788_200742806609148_1208328_5130037_nangra album  – Bhangrafornia. What a wonderful mix of words, we’re hoping the album sounds just as nice :)

Hargo has  had an interest in music, particularly Bhangra music from a young age. With influences from traditional folk Punjabi music and local influences from Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti, this interest had led to the creation of his own album featuring some of the great well known vocalists in Punjabi music today, and others who are newer to the scene but have talented singing voices.

He says ” Alcohol, Panjabi MC, Sukshinder Shinda and other great UK and Indian producers along with folk punjabi music singers such as Chamkila and Yamla Jatt” are his inspiration.

The new album “Bhangrafornia” features all original songs from Master Saleem (India), Surinder Shinda (India), and other talented vocalists in  Punjabi music.

 In anticipation of his new album, we caught up with Hargo himself to see what the deal was…

 

UDR: Hargo Boparai…… claim to fame?

HB: Ha! No claim to fame as of yet, just trying to put together some fun, exciting, energetic bhangra music. Eventually I hope this will get the Bay Area, California some recognition in the Bhangra scene. We have a lot of talent, some of which I have on the album; my good friends Teji Padda and Kulwant Dhanjal both living in Calfornia are featured on the album.

I was born and raised in the Bay Area. Like almost every other producer out there, I started of by deejaying and eventually followed that into experimenting in creating my own music. It took many years to get something that was presentable, so here if my first shot! I am hoping everyone enjoys the music. I have a lot of different flavors, from pure desi folk style, to more modern, to hip hop. Like California, I tried to make this album in ways a melting pot of sounds and styles.

 
UDR:You used to DJ in the 2000s, your finally back on the scene, what happened?

HB: To be honest, I was focusing on my professional career and completing all my educational goals, which I now am fairly comfortable with. Music definitely is not paying the bills :)

The past few years have been rather crazy personally (in a good way), and last year I decided to dust of the recording and production equipment and get back to work in the studio with a fresh approach.

I was funny in ways; after not touching music in a few years, I felt totally rejuvenated and actually felt like it was a fresh start. You know how it is, if you do something day in day out for a extended length of time, your creativity and originality really takes a hit.

I started spending time with Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti and continuing to get input and learn things from him. All of this in turn lead to a layoff that is now officially over!

 

UDR: What’s your inspiration for “Bhangrafornia”?

HB: The album name itself has taken a life of it’s own. What I wanted to do was to come up with a album name that really reflects who I am. Bhangrafornia; a mix of Bhangra and California. It was funny because I literally took a poll with friends on what name the album should have, and Bhangrafornia came out on top. I also took that approach in the thinking for the album and all graphics; I wanted to make it un252568_230896546927107_200742806609148_1127473_1909959_nique and reflect who I am.

 

UDR: What can we expect with your new album?

HB: You can expect some fun, energetic music that you can jam to with your parents, kids, or grandparents around. The tracks are high energy, desi, with a twist of west coast flavors to some. I am hoping that people enjoy the music as much as I enjoyed recording the music and putting it together. The album is out August 5th worldwide on I-Tunes and all other major digital retail stores!

 
UDR: What’s next for you?
HB: First I want to see the response to this album. I have gotten some nice feedback so far with emails, twitter messages, facebook messages from around the world. I also had my track featured on Bhangra Breakdown on the BBC Asia Network with Dipps Bhamrah, which was big! I will let this album take its own path, but have some unique ideas for some music I want to do in the future. I will keep that all a surprise but can give you one hint, it will be something for the Punjabi American guys and girls!
For more information about Hargo Boparai or “Bhangrafornia”:

http://www.facebook.com/hargoboparaimusic 
http://www.hargoboparai.com 
http://www.twitter.com/hargoboparai

From Jay Sean’s Stolen to Raxstar’s Jaaneman: My love just grows.

19Mar

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raxstar

When I first heard Jay Sean’s “Stolen” in 2004, I became completely mesmerized. I don’t know if it was Jay Sean’s hotness or Bipasha’s sex appeal. Or maybe it was just the female hook “Churaliya hai” (since I’m just a big sucker for creative hooks). I was also absolutely CERTAIN that no song would ever be sexier than this one (in a break-up, make-up) sort of way.

That was until I stumbled across Raxstar’s “Jaaneman”. This song replaced “Stolen” for me within seconds. Raxstar is probably the first Desi rapper to be able to RAP so magnificently to the smooth RnB rhythms of such a song. It is truly “the ultimate rap ballad” as stated by DREAMWARRIORS. The female vocals in the hook/background are also locked with originality and freshness…

I also love the simplicity of the music video. Raxstar looks handsome, the female looks gorgeous. In fact, this video is so artistically captivating that at the end— it makes you wanna beg Raxstar for a part 2.

In essence, this song is NUMBER 1 on my personal list of “Sexiest songs of the Decade”. It’s one of those songs that make you want to get in a relationship to have a sad break-up just so you can have a hot steamy make-up.

 

 BY: Tina Arneja
Source: OTinaOTina

Accent on the Music

17Mar

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By: Reena Mumbai reenadotme@gmail.com

This is going to be the dumbest thing I’ve said in a while, but who cares. It’s like this… You know how when you’re listening to a new song and you’re totally digging it and all, and then you start torrenting the hell out of the band, and within three days you’ve committed their entire discography to memory? Right, and you’re all, “Man, this band is the greatest!” and then you find out they’re a French band, and then you’re all, “Wait, but they sing in ‘American’!”

I told you this would be dumb.

I guess, if I think about it, a lot of famous artists are not American and yet, when they sing, they can suppress their accents and sing in an American voice. Take Phoenix, for example. When I first discovered them, I had no clue they were from France. The same goes for the Radio Dept. They sing with American accents but they’re from Sweden. This doesn’t seem as strange to me, and maybe it’s because they’re Caucasian, because I’ll tell you, if I hear an Indian band sing, and they sound “American”, I’m floored down to hell.

Then I wonder, do singers from other countries practice singing in American accents? Or is it the natural inclination of the musically gifted? It’s the nature versus nurture quandry in the singer’s world. Do vocal cords know nothing of nationality? Or do people believe there is more cacophony in singing English language songs in American accents? If so, why? If you grow up in India, for example, surrounded by Indian accents, and you converse in that accent, and argue in it, and whisper disgusting nothings in each others’ ears in it, why then don’t you sing in that accent? And how come people from around the world are so capable of feigning American accents but Americans, on the other hand, swear they can do “the best British accent”, but come off sounding like a more egregious version of Renee Zellweger, a la Bridget Jones’ Diary?

It’s a puzzler, and I have no answers, but I do have some music from around the world, that I thought was good/interesting/not-good-nor-interesting-but-still-worthy-of-sharing. Is anyone else as curious as I am about what music means in other countries? The last three groups are actually pretty solid. The first two, definitely not my cup of tea.

India- This is a group called IAFWAY, which stands for “I Am Fake, What Are You”, and they are based out of New Delhi, (which, incidentally, is where my family is from.) This isn’t my genre of music. I’s very heavy on the metal and I would never be able to sit through an entire song of theirs, but I am just AMAZED that they can sound so NOT “Outsourced”. Unsaturated

China- This band calls itself Re-TROS. Again, I don’t like this music; it’s too rock-influenced, but still interesting to see what is coming out of other countries. Up Next: Bella Lugosi’s Back

Iceland- The band is called Rokkurro and the lead vocalist is Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir’s. I can’t even begin to imagine how to pronounce the first and last name. Her voice reminds of springtime, whatever that means. I really love this song. I Googled this group and stumbled upon their Tumblr and they use the same template for their page that I do! That pretty much solidified that they were a band worth following. Sólin Mun Skína

Singapore- I kind of love the sound of this group. They’re called Elektone and the synth and vocals remind me of the peg leg jeans I wore in 6th grade. Falling Into You

Ireland- Reverie is actually 21 year old Louise Connell whose album “Melodies” is a big, happy bowl of acoustic pop and ukelele strumming. Get to Know Me

So, there you are. Around the world in five international groups. Maybe you like some of them, maybe not. What do I care, really.

Check our Reena’s Blog, would you like to blog for UDR? email us urbandesiradio[@]gmail.com

RIP Nate Dog: 21 Questions and Anthems in Death

16Mar

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By: Reena Mumbai reenadotme@gmail.com

It’s kind of crazy that a lot of breaking news that I learn of is via Twitter. Tonight, for example, I learned that Nate Dogg died. Here’s the crazy in that- I thought it was a hoax because as soon as I saw the tweet I, of course, Googled it, and there were NO hits to corroborate. As it turns out, Twitter beat Google to the punch. Sadly, the world has lost another rapper from my formative intro-to-rap years. Twitter, in the meantime, is blowing up with “R.I.P” shouts and lyrics from famous Nate Dogg songs. When I hear Nate Dogg I immediately think of two songs, probably not unlike many others who grew up on his music. Obviously, one is “Regulate” by Warren G, but the other is probably one that is a less common conduit to Nate because it came later in his career, and that is “21 Questions” by 50 Cent. It has one of the cheesiest, smile-inducing lines in hip hop. The line that then became nauseatingly overused- “I love you like a fat kid love cake.” Granted, that wasn’t actually his line.

Do people ever say to you, “This song always reminds me of you”? I get that from friends and it’s usually either a 90’s song or some random hip-hop song. I was thinking, I wonder what song Nate Dogg would want people playing in his memory. Like, would he scoff if he knew I played “21 Questions” because it was actually a 50 Cent song that he was featured on? Actually, most of the popular songs Nate Dogg is remembered for were collabos with other artists. Then I thought, well, when I die, what song do I want my death to immediately trigger in the minds of my friends?

Hold, please. Time for a 3:40 am cookie…

As I was saying, what song would I want people playing? Yes, I realize this is a big assumption that, somehow, my death will spark a global “kumbaya”, but you never know, so it’s best to have a plan in place. The problem is there are so many great songs that put me in an out-of-body experience. I’m being totally serious- music does that to me, often. Some people use qualudes, some use videogames, I use music. Parenthetically speaking, did you know that quaaludes were first invented in India? It is one of those obscure, but important, facts to spew out to someone you want to impress, like, I dunno, a drugged-out hippie child of the Woodstock era, who maybe manages a famous band.

The problem with picking one song to be your anthem in death is that you want to make sure it’s a “timeless” song. This means most current popular music is out. Ke$ha’s ( I can’t believe I actually dollar-signed her) “Blow” may sound great now, but 30 years from now it’s just going to be eyebrow-raising when this song is trending on Twitter as #RIP Reena.Blow on girl. So, I’m trying very hard to scour my top 50 songs list and come up with the perfect anthem in death for myself. I have none as of yet. But I’d better find one fast. It’s best to be prepared.

Post script: I find Ke$ha distasteful and a big ear soar. However, I will go on the record and say I am totally feeling her new song “Blow” which, when listened to at cochlea-cracking decibels, really just makes you want to dance. Also, this video has unicorns (dammit, are unicorns trendy now??) and Dawson of “Dawson’s Creek” fame. What the?

And for the record, the cookie(s) I ate at 3:40 am were sugarless and homemade, though obviously not by me.

Check our Reena’s Blog, would you like to blog for UDR? email us urbandesiradio[@]gmail.com

Our people are saved, Our music is saved. BBC Asian Network, Zindabad!

16Mar

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No need to fear all you UK music lovers – The BBC corporation has decided they will not shut down the BBC Asian Network after a year of deliberation.

As soon as the news hit last year, South Asians all over the world began to protest against the debunking of the network. More than 100 British South Asians signed a letter to a popular media outlet as well as the BBC corporation,  pleading for the network to be saved.

Also, the South Asian musichead community has been coming together to have their voices heard and to keep this network alive. I love the track streaming below (by Shizzio and Tigerstyle) because it’s a prime demonstration of this hardfelt work. Which in fact…has yielded desirable results. Well done!

This decision will have to be approved by the BBC  Trust in the  next few months.  Let’s hope they make a good decison.

Keep supporting the BBC Asian Network and spread the word. The South Asian community does not have much of a mainstream platform and let’s do our best to keep it alive.

Yours truly, Tina xoxo @ http://www.otinaotina.us/

(Scroll down below for extended blog entry by Deeps)

Save The Music – Tigerstyle feat. Shizzio by TigerstyleOnline

Check Out “Blow” from Ajaxxx *NEW VIDEO*

16Mar

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Ajaxxx and myself had some friendly banter at the beginning of the year when he said some “sites” (hinting to UDR?) doesn’t give Desi artists in the US enough props. This space is not just for UK Desi artists, but for all artists from all over, Ajaxxx like many others Urban Desi artists here in the States, is a contender to show the US is just as talented as the UK. The UDR platform is all yours Ajaxxx bring it on!! Check out his new video “Blow” (which was featured on one of our sister sites SimplyBhangra.com) Ajaxxx is making waves and doing his thing!

Navin Kundra charms Nayna in an EXCLUSIVE interview!

16Mar

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Sweet, romantic and totally addictive and I’m not just talking about his music. I caught up with the ever so charming and down to Earth Navin Kundra to discuss his new song ‘Aaja’, his love for his fans, all his favourite things and so much more.

By: @NaynaED

Nayna: It’s good to see you again, what have you been up to lately?

Navin: Just a lot of promotion around the new single, it’s been doing really well so a lot of touring and being back in the studio, creating new music.

N: Your twitter bio, it says ‘you think you know, but you have no idea’, so what do we have no idea about?

NK: (laughs) Well you know with Twitter, you don’t have much space so I couldn’t put my 3,4 pages of achievements down… no I’m joking. I guess people get an image of you from the music that you put out and my music is so varied so people really don’t quite get to know the real me until they sit down and have a chat with me which is what we’re doing now.

N: Listening to the new single ‘Aaja’, it starts off like a qawali and it just kicks in and the vocals are amazing. What was the inspiration behind it?

NK: The idea to be honest was just to create something new, something very different. It’s a bit of an ambitious song to take on and I don’t think a lot of people would have expected a young British Asian artist to come out with a song like that. Like you say, it’s got mixed elements of qawali with soul and then Indian classical music, it was quite a big task. A lot of people have heard that song and they think there’s about 3 different singers on it, but I’m doing all the vocals myself. And that’s sort of what I mean by ‘you think you know…’ because if you didn’t know my face or me as a person you’d hear that and think Gosh, there’s no way that’s a 26 year old guy from the UK.

N: So we last met at the GMex exhibition in Manchester recently, how did you prepare yourself for that performance? Do you still get nervous before you’re about to go on stage?

NK: Always! I’m actually a nervous wreck before I go onstage, It’s terrible. Normally backstage, there’s loads of other people around, at the event there were artists, dancers, models and they’re all so cool and chilled out like they’re comfortable with everything. I’ve been doing this for a while now but it always still feels like it’s my first and last performance which is why I kind of get really nervous and I give it my all on stage and I guess that helps because it prepares you mentally.

N: Speaking of dancing, I noticed you strutting some dance moves on stage, is that something you take lessons for or..?

NK: (laughs) No no, as you can tell, if anyone has seen me dancing they’ll know I take no lessons for that but it’s just a bit of fun, it’s something I enjoy doing. When I’m performing and I see the crowd dancing and singing along, it’s just great.

N: I want to know a bit about the man behind the music. What do you like to do when you get home at the end of a hard day, what’s your way of winding down?

NK: It depends, there’s times I just love going out for a run, other times I like to listen to music, watch TV, watch movies, I’m a big fan of comedy and perhaps my favourite winding down past time is just spending time with my fans, logging on to ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ and replying to messages and having conversations on my wall.

N: Do you think that’s a strange concept as an artist, to be able to connect with the fans so personally, almost one to one.

NK: It is strange, going back over more than 5 years ago, it was totally unheard of. With the invention of all these social networking sites, it’s been a way of connecting very personally with fans and it’s worked so great for me because I’m an unsigned artist, still independent but I’m putting music out and I’ve got a fan base because of that. We have a good time, we have a great relationship, I talk to them, they talk to me. It’s good to know you’ve got that support there because they’re the ones that make the songs number 1.

N: Is it a bit embarrassing when you see twitter accounts that are named after you? You do have a few now.

NK: No it’s not embarrassing at all, I love that. All the more the better, it’s a really beautiful thing actually.

N: What do you miss most about being away from home?

NK: I miss my own bed because I have this theory, you can be in the most luxurious hotel or the best penthouse suite but when you get into the bed, there’s nothing quite like your own, it’s like you’re conditioned to it. I miss being with my family as well and mum’s cooking definitely!

N: Speaking of cooking, did you do anything on pancake day?

NK: Not really, I was busy working away so I missed out on all the pancakes but I hope everyone else had a good time.

N: If I had known I would have brought you one.

NK: You should have done, I’m really gutted now.

N: Maybe next year?

NK: Yeh definitely.

N: What was your first reaction when you found out ‘Aaja’ got to no.1? Were you jumping up and down screaming or were you playing it cool like ‘it’s aaiite, I’m happy’?

NK: (laughs) I was jumping up and down screaming when I first heard it played on radio, that’s how crazy it is because it’s always really exciting. I think a lot of people take for granted that it’s something you’ve spent time creating, it’s your baby, and just to know everyone else is hearing it is a massive deal. So when it went to no.1 I was just completely blown away. I knew it was a different song with a very different sound so I never knew how it would do, I just believed in the song and I’m so glad the audience believed in it as well.

N: What I’m going to do now is like a quick fire round. I want to ask you quick short questions and need a quick response. Are you ready?

NK: (laughs) They might not be so quick because I’m terrible at these things.

N: (laughs) Hopefully there’s not a lot of thinking required, just say what comes into your head. Ready?

NK: I’m ready (looking nervous).

N: Favourite film?

NK: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

N: Aw mine too. Favourite all time song?

NK: So many but at the moment I have to say ‘Tuj Mein Rab Diktha Hai’.

N: An artist that inspires you.

NK: Stevie Wonder.

N: Favourite book?

NK: Roots by Alex Haley.

N: Favourite car?

NK: Aston Martin

N: (whispers) Old man’s car.

NK: Er excuse me that’s not an old man’s car, that’s a very slick, sophisticated, sleek car.

N: Don’t get me started on this. One place you’d like to visit.

NK: By the way, what’s your favourite car?

N: Lamborghini Gallardo?

NK: (short silence then mimicks me)

N: (laughs) Moving on! Right so one place you’d like to visit.

NK: You’re such a show off yaar. (laughs) Sorry are you asking me another question? One place I’d like to visit… I would like to go to Mauritius.

N: What song do you wish you had written and released?

NK: Gosh there’s loads, but I wish I had written and released ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson.

N: An artist you would like to collaborate with.

NK: A R Rahman.

N: Lastly your favourite quote, maybe something inspirational.

NK: I have a quote that was passed on to me by my mentor Pandit Dinesh ji and that is ‘look after your art and your art will look after you.

N: That’s beautiful. Ok I’m going to say one word now and you’re going to say the first thing that comes into your head, (Navin looks over at my notes) …stop reading my questions!

NK: (laughs)

N: Ring

NK: Finger

N: Black

NK: White

N: Fast

NK: Slow (laughs)

N: Scary

NK: You

N: (laughs) Success!

NK: Happiness.

N: It was an absolute pleasure to chat to you today Navin, thank you so much.

NK: Thank YOU very much and thank you to all the fans who are supporting my music.

N: Any last messages for your fans?

NK: Just like I said, massive massive thank you! I hope to see you all very soon, come down to one of my shows because this music is to experience and we’ll have a good time.

Already at number 1, make sure you download the single Aaja by Navin Kundra and listen to it, it has such a catchy beat and beautiful lyrics.

You can find Navin on Twitter and on Facebook

Nayna   Editor | Elektrodrop
nayna@elektrodrop.com | www.elektrodrop.com
www.twitter.com/NaynaED

UK ARTISTS: If you would like to be interviewed on @UrbanDesiRadio please drop our official UK Blogger @NaynaED a line! If you would like to blog on UDR, hit us up UrbanDesiRadio[@]gmail.com

Swapna-Sucheta Suicide Case

15Mar

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Sappho one of the great Greek lyricist and poets

From Sappho (Support Group for Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women) this was reported in the Telegraph (Eastern Indian English newspaper) the two women were in a lesbian relationship, sadly they both committed, because they felt this was the only way they could be together. Sappho went to their town to learn more about the two young women and their families.

Swapna-Sucheta Suicide Case
Nandigram, Sonachura, 20th February.2011
A Report by the Fact Finding Team of Sappho for Equality

The incident was reported in the Telegraph, a leading English daily of
eastern India on 22nd February 2011, along with smaller insertions on
the same day in Times of India, Kolkata, Ganashakti (Bengali daily
from Kolkata), Mumbai Mirror and Ahmedabad Mirror.

Two young girls from a village named Sonachura, under Nandigram police
station, in East Midnapur District, had committed suicide together by
consuming pesticide. They were neighbours, distant cousins; the elder
used to give tuition to the younger and were in a lesbian
relationship. The younger was married off some months ago after the
villagers became suspicious about their relationship.

Apart from the above mentioned basic facts media reports were
contradictory about the names of the girls, their ages, and other
details related to this incident. One of the news papers with
expressed political allegiance went to the extent of calling it a
murder (it should be remembered that Nandigram and Sonachura have been
in the news for State Government’s land acquisition policy and counter
movement, and is still in a situation of political unrest with state
elections knocking at the door).

We at Sappho for Equality decided that given the contradictory nature
of the media reports, and the political positioning of Nandigram with
a general pre-poll unrest prevailing in the state, we should carry out
a fact finding process on our own. It also is considered as a step
towards our advocacy and lobbying campaign with the state machinery,
the police to be precise.

As step one we formed an internal fact finding team of experienced
members. The team first met Ms. Damayanti Sen IPS, Joint Commissioner
of Police, Crime Branch, Kolkata, for back up police support for the
fact finding mission and also for involving her in the advocacy and
lobbying campaign. We got extremely positive response from her for the
immediate venture and the long term project. She gave us contacts of
very senior police personnel of the West Bengal Police, the Additional
director of Police, Law and Order, who in turn connected us with the
East Midnapore Police Superintendent, OC of Nandigram Police Station
and Sub Inspector of Tekhali, Sonachura Police Outpost. The last
referred person had actually handled this case and we got maximum
information from him through our fact finding process on 26th
February.

On 26th February our five-member team, ready with audio-visual
documenting    equipments, went to Sonachura for finding out real
facts and scopes for further intervention regarding the couple suicide
case of Swapna-Sucheta. We met and interviewed Swapna’s parents, one
of her coaching class students who used to study with Sucheta also,
Sucheta’s mother, one of their male neighbours, few neighbourhood
women, Sucheta’s husband Bikash Mondal, Panchayet Pradhan Kalikrishna
Pradhan (chief functionary of the rural local governance system) and
Sub Inspector Animesh Chakraborty of Tekhali Police Outpost and also
had a talk with Second Officer Sambhunath Das of Nandigram Police
Station. Copy of a note book with Swapna’s description of their
relationship and the final act along with the copy of case diary were
collected as testimony.

The incident and its background as found by the fact finding committee
is – Swapna, 21/22 has always been a quite and integrated person. She
is one of the rare girls who had passed Madhyamik (school leaving
examination) and instead of marriage opted for a career as a teacher.
Her parents already burdened with the debts accumulated after her two
elder sisters’ marriage decided not to press too hard. She had opened
a coaching centre at her home and was giving tuition to the
neighbourhood students and earning a modest amount of money. Sucheta,
17/18, a neighbourhood girl, a second/third cousin used to come to her
coaching centre and they had developed very deep and intimate
relationship. The villagers started suspecting about the nature of
their relationship to be homosexual and about year ago a huge ruckus
was created by some of the village elders and both the families were
threatened. Sucheta’s parents decided to marry their daughter off and
they
got hold of a young neighbourhood boy, Bikash, 20/21, who works as a
masonry help in Orissa, was once in a relationship with Sucheta before
she got involved with Swapna. Sucheta refused to marry but was forced
into it, a very common practice everywhere in India, and was married
off about six months ago. But the relationship continued and Bikash,
tried to commit suicide, unsuccessfully, after two months of his
marriage to Sucheta. On 20th February 2011, Sucheta had come to visit
her natal family and went missing along with Swapna. The families and
villagers looked for them the whole night and in the morning they were
found dead at a spot about 2 km from their home tied together by a
gamchha (handloom towel) embracing each other. Police report says that
they had committed suicide by consuming pesticide. A note book was
found at Swapna’s home where she has clearly described the nature of
their relationship and her decision of committing suicide as they
thought that to be the only way of staying together because the
society would not let be with each other. Her last request was to be
cremated together, which was not observed because none of the families
including Sucheta’s marital family were willing to accept the dead
bodies back from police morgue to give them an honourable funeral.

From interactions with both of the families, Sucheta’s husband, and
neighbourhood persons, the single striking fact, clear to all of us,
was that no one is actually sad for those two deceased human beings.
Swapna’s parents are bewildered because she was a major bread winner
for her family, Sucheta’s mother (we could not meet her father) was
too cautious to talk. Bikash was busy clearing his name, trying to
prove that all was well between them as a married couple. Never did he
gave any information regarding his failed suicide attempt.

The neighbourhood guy agreed that it is bad that the girls have
committed suicide, it is not right to marry someone off forcibly. When
asked that what would be his/their plan of action if something like
this happens again, he said they would involve women next time
something like this happens and try to make the girls understand the
immorality and impossibility of such a situation rather than forcing
them into marriage. The Panchayet Pradhan also was unhappy about the
deaths and subsequent turn of events when the families refused to
cremate the deadbodies. He said that he was willing to organize funds
needed for their last rites but the families were not ready to do so,
though they cited poverty as their reason, he felt that immorality of
the act had actually forced the families to disown the girls. He also
said that he believes homosexuality is wrong because some group
involved in HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in that area had declared so.
Police
personnel in the area, the sub-inspector of Tekhali police outpost,
in particular, seemed to be quite sensitive about the issue. Police
was willing to help the families in obtaining the bodies from morgue
but as the Pradhan, the S I also commented upon the families’
reluctance in arranging funeral rites due to the dead as non
acceptance of their lesbian relationship.

At this juncture, Sappho for Equality has already designed a targeted
intervention programme for eradicating violence against LBT persons
with long and short term work plans keeping this incident and other
similar incidents in focus.

Short term work plans

awareness camp in the Nandigram/Sonachura area after Assembly election
leafleting and campaigning with university and college students
keeping this incident at the centre
collaborating with Maitree (a forum of women’s rights groups and
individual activists in West Bengal) to present this case in the 8th
march programme (It had already been taken place)
Creating a violence dossier with similar reported incidents as ready reckoner.
Raising the issue of violence against LBT persons in every possible
fora and sharing this report with all interested organizations and
individuals working on similar or allied issues.

Long term work plan

advocacy and lobbying with the State Administrative System
police sensitization programme

Sappho for Equality is an Activist Platform Working for the Rights of
Sexually Marginalized (Les/Bi/Trans) Women in Kolkata

Bohemia launches India Tour 2011

14Mar

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Picture 46

After a successful tour to raise funds for Pakistan flood victims in 2011, Bohemia will be touring India in 2011! If you are interested to book Bohemia or want more info about his tours in Punjab, Delhi or Mumbai call +91 9911581590 or email info@ysevents.in. Bohemia was ranked number 3 on Urban Desi Radio top 10 artists of the decade.