Guns & Guitars…January 1, 2011
— Bidyut Kotoky, Film-maker
On 8th of November this year I received a mail from the Editor-in-Chief of Fried Eye, Pramathesh, requesting for an article for their annual issue. I was in the Northeast for a shoot – hence, had a readymade excuse for not being in a position to write.
But it was not so easy to lose the trail! On 3rd of December, I got another mail from him informing me that the special issue is delayed till January, so if I could contribute… I realised I don’t have much excuses left. Now if you get bored with me for one more time, you know whom to blame.
Guns and Guitars. That’s the name of the next documentary we are working in. The idea was born on a monsoon morning while I was travelling to a shop selling musical instruments in Mumbai, along with the rock legend of Northeast – Lou Majaw. That shop owner claimed to have the maximum customer from the music loving Northeast and hence have a soft corner for the musicians of that region. I did wonder aloud to Lou about the paradox of having to depend on a Mumbai shop for something as basic as guitar strings when the best of alcoholic beverages are available in the neighborhood wine shop all over Northeast – but that’s another story…
For the last 38 years, Lou has been celebrating the birthday of music legend Bob Dylan with a concert. Once I had enquired with him the reason. He said that one day way back in the 1970s he felt like thanking Mr. Dylan for the way he touched Lou’s life through his songs- and rather than writing him a postcard, thought of thanking him with a birthday concert. The trend continues till date… Lou happened to mention that this time, on 24/5/2011; he is planning to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday in a little different way. He has the consent to use 500 acres of land belonging to a friend of his, near Umiam Lake (Meghalaya) for the concert. What he is planning is a Sunset to Sunrise Concert’, where all you have to do is to move in with your tent by paying a nominal entry fee. The local food and brew will be available at a reasonable rate there and some of the best bands of Northeast will be playing music for you all night long. I won’t blame you if you are reminded of Woodstock – I was … Instantly I knew that this is a film I got to make!
To the rest of the country, more often than not northeast is mentioned for all the wrong reasons -when there is bomb blast, ambush, economic blockade, drug haul so on and so forth. As if we are there only as a reminder of the negative forces! Nobody wants to focus on our positive energies… The aim of this film is to track the journeys of 8 rock groups from eight different states– one each from the seven sisters and one brother, Sikkim – till it calumniates in the grand finale on the night of 24th of May with Bob Dylan’s birthday concert. The film will try to bring to light to how these youngsters try to fight the negative energies that surrounded their environment with the guitars in their hand and songs of life and dreams on their lips…
And it would be difficult – if not impossible – for them to find a better role model than Lou. Here is a 63 years ‘young’ man, who never says ‘never’… The legend has it that the arrival of winter in Shillong is signified by Lou changing to full pants from his pair of shorts… A man who refuses to leave his hometown for greener pastures because he believed that the youngsters of the region need him around… Who still can’t afford a place to call his own ‘home’, but when I asked him whether he had ever missed the possible ‘limelight’ a bigger city could have provided, he answered with a laugh ‘every morning when I see the sun, I know that is the light!’, before adding on a serious tone – ‘if I can make a difference to one person’s life through my song, that means more to me…’
So friends, this 24th of May let’s meet up in the ‘Sunset to Sunrise Concert’ and join hands to declare the victory of Guitar over the Gun. I’m sure you all will agree, it is a great idea!
Know about Lou Majaw Celebration Shillong
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