Songs of the River Ganga: Shantanu Moitra’s lyrical journey to self-discovery

The six-episode sequence traces the emotional and non secular calling of the 55-year-old Bollywood music composer, explores his inventive dimension and places his bodily mettle to the check

The six-episode sequence traces the emotional and non secular calling of the 55-year-old Bollywood music composer, explores his inventive dimension and places his bodily mettle to the check

When award-winning Bollywood music composer Shantanu Moitra started his journey from Gomukh to Gangasagar on a bicycle — documented within the new journey web-series Songs of the River on Disney+Hotstar — he was nursing grief. Two years earlier than Covid’s lethal Delta wave took his father’s life, Shantanu had deliberate a visit to Varanasi with him. “I wanted closure. In Varanasi, my mom and I carried out his final rites, through the 60-day highway journey. The our bodies of Covid sufferers weren’t handed over to their close to and expensive ones, so I by no means noticed my father’s physique,” he says.

Shantanu Moitra with his mother.

Shantanu Moitra along with his mom.

Instantly after the ceremony Shantanu was struck by the thought of ‘Ananth Yatra’, an ode to the collective pathos of people that had misplaced their family members through the pandemic. Whereas biking alongside the banks of river Ganges, he carried alongside images of some 800 individuals who succumbed to the virus.

“These images, shared with me by individuals who misplaced their family members throughout Covid, had been printed on discarded cotton wool and had Tulsi seeds in them. I needed to carry out a ceremony for them,” he tells. In Gangasagar, there’s a memorial now of Covid sufferers at a college, Swami Kapilanand Vidyabhavan. “The memorial is testimony to what these two years (of the pandemic) had been. I dug these images within the soil. The metamorphosis of photographs to vegetation signifies that that life goes on,” he says.

The six-episode sequence, shot between October and December final 12 months, traces the emotional and non secular calling of the 55-year-old composer, explores his inventive dimension and places his bodily mettle to the check. Shantanu’s collaborated with seven artists for the sequence and the songs have been mounted on the eponymous music album which was launched on Spotify, Apple Music, Gaana and JioSaavn on Monday. The artists featured on the album are Mohit Chauhan, Maati Bani, Taba Chake, Bombay Jayshree, Sid Shriram, Kaushiki Chakravarti and Ambi Subramaniam.

Shantanu says he didn’t attain out to the artists due to their music, however for the sort of work they had been doing for society usually. “Mohit Chauhan and his spouse fed canines through the lockdowns. They now run an organisation referred to as Animals Are People Too and feed canines. Jayshree Bombay runs a college that teaches music to kids with autism,” he shares. Shantanu says he recorded most of those songs within the outdoor, with one sound engineer. “These songs had been recorded subsequent to the river the place there have been sounds of goats, cows, crows and tractors passing by. In studios we change into so obsessive about ‘no different sound ought to enter our microphone’, whereas, on daily basis we hear tons of sounds. So why are we limiting ourselves on the subject of making music,” he asks.

For Shantanu, music was an escape from the strenuous cycle tour. He says, “Whereas I used to be biking, I used to be additionally fascinated by the music I used to be going to make, devices I needed to carry into the songs. So, it helped me with the ups and downs my physique was going by way of through the journey.”

He selected to cycle by way of the expedition as a result of, he says, it’s the solely mode of transport that makes you fitter each time you pedal. “The rudimentary mechanics appear to go down very nicely with individuals,” he says. “Surprisingly, the small-town India — comprising villages and locations which don’t even exist on Google Maps — is fascinated with cycles. I’ve seen tractors and vans stopping to assist me, individuals inviting me for a cup of tea and passersby giving me updates on the highway forward. The larger the cities, the extra illiberal its visitors is in the direction of cyclists,” he opines.

Out of the three,000 km (approx.) he lined, about 2,200 km ran alongside the Ganges, traversing small hamlets. “A lot of India makes use of that route for biking, most of them being kids who go to varsities,” he says.

In the course of the shoot of the sequence produced by JSW Group, Shantanu braved many challenges, together with cloud-burst in Uttarkashi, the flooding of the river, an asthmatic assault and an accident simply 40 km earlier than the ultimate vacation spot. The journey additionally had its excessive factors like assembly the Busker group, rediscovering the melodious oral legacy of the town of Murshidabad, crossing the excessive safety zone of Farakka Barrage.

“To organize for this journey, I didn’t simply do energy coaching, however physique evaluation too. I cycled eight to 10 hours on daily basis, 5 days every week. What’s journey with out a sense of ache, anyway? I feel I did get my closure in any case, not simply due to my father however for these 800 individuals whose images I used to be carrying.” he indicators off.

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