Papon on the banks of the Brahmaputra at Majuli in Assam
“My mother wasn't keeping well and she didn't want to sing. I had to persuade her. My father passed away three years ago and I couldn't work with him. My dream was to work with both my parents,” reveals Papon, who recently composed the anthem for the debut edition of Namami Brahmaputra — a five-day river festival (from March 31 to April 4) in Assam to showcase the state's art and culture. The 41-year-old is known for his playback exploits in the film industry, but his repertoire also encompasses Indian Classical music, Borgeet and the Folk music of Assam, which he learnt from his parents — eminent Folk singers Khagen Mahanta and Archana Mahanta. His mother sang in the Assamese version of Namami Brahmaputra. “I will treasure this all my life,” he adds.
The anthem is written byâÂÂÂ€ÂÂÂˆSwanand Kirkire and translated to Assamese by Manmath Baishya
How it happened
Around 30 musicians and celebrities, including the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, joined the venture. “Ever since I started touring for concerts, I fell more in love with the mighty river. The sound of the Brahmaputra is like a homecoming to me. I have sung several songs sitting by its banks,” shares Papon, who composed the track on a special request from the Assam government. He wanted a pan-India reach for the song. “There have been many Assamese songs on the river, but none in Hindi. Now, the rest of India will also understand the essence of the river.” His friends — Vishal Dadlani, Shaan and Sonu Nigam to name a few — didn't charge for the project, and “agreed out of love.” The shoot, in multiple cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Guwahati), was completed in 12 days. “It was smooth,” he says.
Papon with mother Archana Mahanta
Lessons from parents
Papon owes his versatility to his parents. “They would never impose exercises on me. They exposed me to good music, helped me work intelligently around it and pick up a melody. My mother taught me how to approach a song with its frills and trimmings, while my father told me to understand the foundation of a melody, take the essence of it as an inspiration before composing a song on the same genre. It won't sound similar but there will be familiarity,” shares Papon, who will release an Assamese album in May.