By: Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee
Great artists ceaselessly work even after the composition of their masterpiece. Mayuri Rajbonshi Rajbaruah created ripples with her ‘Parinda’ but she is unstoppable and now engages her in the cross country projects going beyond ‘Parinda’. For being a live portrait artist at Guwahati Heritage Centre every weekend she is called “Artist under the mango tree” by the GMDA. The author of Impact Assessment of Om creations Trust based on Intellectual Disability, published in Research Gate, America, is now winning everyone’s heart with her own musical innovation ‘Parinda’. The song is a very well received song globally. Right from Bollywood actor Adil Hussain to listeners across the globe, it grabbed attention from many international producers to collaborate with her. The song ‘Parinda’ was an initiative to raise awareness among women and any individual to remind them how strong they are to rise above any adversity with their inner strength and self-belief. Assam gave her all her motivation. Its rich cultural heritage and musical wealth are explored by her assiduously and she modernised many of the musical notes with a special focus on social content.
In 2018 Mayuri had her musical debut with Aguai Jua (Move Forward) and set her music milestone later in 2019 with Parinda that created waves in the mind of the music lovers. But she came up with more eight fabulous song projects which kept her damn busy in Mumbai. Her ongoing projects after spectacular success of ‘Parinda’ in March 2022 which was a musical milestone for her career are also music used as a medium for female empowerment. It is marked by innovation and passionate commitment to music and cultural heritage of Assam. As a social activist she works for children, physically challenged and old people besides her concern for women. In her songs she adds a modern flair to the Assamese musical world. Her ongoing cross country projects which she started during the pandemic years show promise.
‘Ahem Prema’ and ‘Xire xire bhaahe’ are cross country musical projects based in USA. The songs although had their birth and nourishment abroad, they were deeply rooted in Assamese culture and heritage as it happened in the projects called ‘Dure Due Thakiu Aji’, ‘Xubaxi Xewali’, ‘We are the Champions’, and ‘Tujhme khoya Rahe’.
UK based projects include, ‘Tumi Tumi’ and ‘Another life’ and the European ones are untitled, based on Spain, such as Fusion.
It was difficult to go beyond the craze of Parinda in the mind of the audience to conquer their heart. So she had to devise new techniques and undertake new experiments. She likes to explore different styles and genres. But her foundation is always Hindustani classical. She believes that a singer who is classically trained can sing any style of songs. She does not agree that she changes her style in the post Parinda period. It is rather broadening her horizon. In today’s world of technology, no one needs actually help to reach out to anyone. The international musicians got connected through social media after they heard and liked her songs.
Mayuri in spite of her Mumbai background, is very much rooted to her mother tongue and hence wishes to take the language across countries. That is the reason she has intentionally kept the language for the songs as Assamese. Then it creates curiosity among them what this language is about and to which state it belongs.
“Though I live far away from Assam for my professional advantage and exposure,” she confessed with a glimpse of pride, “yet each moment, Brahmaputra and its riparian culture moulds my thought. The idyllic ambience of Assam, Kaziranga or the divine Kamakhya has left ripples in my heart and soul. How can I think otherwise even when I am outside the state and even India I am abroad only Assamese diaspora?”
After talking to Mayuri, I felt if music did not exist, Assam cannot survive. Singers like Mayuri are enriching the roots of Assamese culture and heritage through their sincere commitment to music. “Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.”- said Elton John .This is exactly what admirers of Mayuri Rajbonshi found when in her musical journey in a true sense began with her first own Assamese composition “Aguai Jua” (Go Forward) in 2018. Being in the social work field and being a woman with “never giving up” attitude Mayuri wished to portray the challenges that are faced by women in regular basis. Many women are being discouraged and they are forced to stop dreaming and get “their heads out of clouds,” play safe, and not to take chances. Reasons like gender inequality, lack of support, resources, and self-confidence have been hindering women to pursue what truly women love. As a result, the challenges of achieving dreams appear so difficult and unrealistic that women start to become less ambitious. She took special care in writing lyrics/ producing own music/ editing video and make some independent music. “Women should never give up on their dreams, desires, and goals; due to unlimited duties and expectations from their environment or society” – said Mayuri Rajbongshi whoever approaches her as a musician.
“This girl is always busy with her studies and hobbies,” this is what people around her used to say about her. Once it happened she picked up a torn/soiled newspaper piece from a footpath seeing a beautiful artwork in it. Her father did not know why she had to pick it up and got a bad scold for doing so. This little girl of Namrup is today’s eminent Assamese singer of Mumbai – Mayuri Rajbonshi Rajbaruah. She gathered expertise in Music Production and Programming at Berklee College Boston USA and got introduced to Art Concepts and Techniques in the Pennsylvania State University USA. She did her Msc. in Human Development and Family Studies from Assam Agricultural University. She channelised her passions for music by completing Bachelor of Music (Hindustani classical – Vocal) from Bhatkhande Sangeet Vidyapeeth (Lucknow), Prayag Sangeet Samitee (Allahabad) And Sarva Bharatiyo (Kolkatta). She got her Gayaki training and voice culture from Sri Suresh Wadkarji (Mumbai) and Pandit Vidyut Misraji (Guwahati). She had her first debut as a young singer was in radio when she was 11/12 years old from Dibrugarh. From then onwards she ceaselessly performed in TV and Bihu shows, youth programmes in AIR and College/University festivals in various places of India. Even after shifting to Mumbai in 2015 and she devoted herself to rigorous classical training under the wings of Veteran Bollywood Singer Padmashri Sri Suresh Wadkarji, Mumbai (in Jiyalal Vasantji’s Gharana). She also did Kalabid in Painting which is equivalent to M.Fine Arts from Nikhil Bharat Sangeet Samity Calcutta. Besides her two books Children in Adult Garb and Impact Assessment of Om Creations Trust, she created her niche as a researcher and her Paper ‘Prevention of alcohol addiction within a rural context’ (as a part of an alcohol prevention project in a tribal village) was presented at Centros De Integracion Juvenil A.C.
Mexico. Matt Haig in How to Stop Time once wrote: “Music doesn’t get in. Music is already in. Music simply uncovers what is there, makes you feel emotions that you didn’t necessarily know you had inside you” This motivation we get in the musical performance and creation of Mumbai based singer Mayuri Rajbonshi of Assam. (The author is a senior trilingual columnist may be reached at email@example.com)