Sunday, 11 January 2015

My latest short story: The bridge over Disang Noi

I begin 2015 with this short story published by Writers Asylum.


"I was on the other side of the grey bridge made of cement, the sand and dust and pebbles adding a grainy quality to it. And from my side of the bridge, I saw how the road sloped downwards with a line of areca nut trees: Crops of green leaves rendered golden here and there, by a touch of the sunrays, sitting atop lanky columns. Up ahead, young banana plants sprouted out of the brown-green land, looking like dwarves against the areca nut trees. And a few paces beyond was just the brown-green land that dropped and fell into the river, Disang Noi. The water reflected the green of the trees, the grey of the bridge, the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds that formed the swirls of a brush on a canvas. On the other side of the river, the land rose again, grey in tone, slanting in posture, before turning into an expanse of greenery that stretched and disappeared into a wall of trees. All I could see from where I stood was the green of trees and the land; and the green rising up to the white clouds in a blue sky that was beginning to splash red and purple.

At the other end of the bridge, quite into the distance, a red dot blinked. It revealed the contours of a WagonR as it shot out of the greenery. I knew it was a WagonR because somebody from our village who long ago shifted to Sibsagar town had recently purchased one and when he made his annual trip to check on his property in the village, he had to give all of his time to the villagers who wanted to check out his car from inside and out. The red car almost flew on to the bridge and came to a screeching halt in the middle. There it stood, just like that, in the middle of the bridge, for what seemed like eternity. And then, a very attractive man got down. He bore the confidence of a city man."

on Manjeet Ral (Deccan Herald, 11 Jan 2015)

Arrived in Bollywood

Juanita Kakoty, Jan 11, 2015
Bhangra beats
Here to stay Singer Manjeet Ral

He has no formal training in music, but for over a decade now, Manjeet Ral has created quite a stir in the global music scenario. 

He is known to his million fans as Manj Musik — the lead singer of RDB (Rhythm Dhol Bass) — the band of three brothers that brought different styles and genres together. That chapter closed with band member and brother Kuljeet’s death. After the spilt with the other brother, Surjeet Ral, in 2015, Manj has decided to go solo and carry on Kuljeet’s legacy under the same label.

Manj says Kuljeet (Kulypaji) has been the biggest influence in his life and recalls their musical beginning. “I sat and watched him mess with different music softwares. We created music samples, placed them on the keyboard of our Amiga 500 computer and triggered them off. Then I sang to the beats. It sounded horrible, but it was our first attempt at making music,” he reminisces.

Manj admits that Kuljeet’s death is a great loss, and that every time he goes on stage, “I thank him for composing the smashing RDB hits with me. I will keep at bringing out new music under Manj Musik as an ode to him, and use the knowledge he shared with me as my commitment towards his vision.” Today, Manj and his wife, Nindy Kaur, are a formidable team that has radically pioneered the style of British Bhangra. The duo’s music composition for Bollywood includes films Heropanti, Dr. Cabbie, Namastey London, Singh Is Kinng, Kambakkht Ishq, Aloo Chaat, Speedy Singhs (Breakaway), Tanu Weds Manu, Yamla Pagla Deewana and Bullett Raja.

The singer’s entry into Bollywood did begin with an interesting dialogue with actor Akshay Kumar. “I was in Detroit when my friend in Toronto put me through to the star who had already heard our music and considered it good. Akshay said, ‘Hi, this is Akshay from Bollywood,’ and I teasingly replied, ‘Yeah, yeah, Shah Rukh Khan called me yesterday.’ What followed was the deal with Namastey London. Akshaypaji was then our lucky charm!” Manj recalls.

Manj holds a list of musical projects to work through, “I am composing music for a couple of Hollywood films. In Bollywood, I have a single each to score with Salim Sulaiman, Vishal-Shekhar and Sunidhi Chauhan. There are collaborations with Badshah and Raftaar. I’m still working with Punjabi artistes Jazzy B and Zeus. I also have global deals with T-Pain, LMFAO and 50 Cent. And, touch wood, my recent Bollywood compositions have done so well with the masses that I’ve chances to work with Farhan Akhtar, Akshay Kumar, A R Rahman and Saif Ali Khan in the near future.”

His latest is a song called Desi Hip Hop, featuring desi hip-hop artistes like Badshah, Raftaar, Humble the Poet, Raxstar, Roach Killa and Sarb Smooth. It’s a tribute to the Punjabi music industry, which he aims to release shortly.

My short story 'Where is Arsalan Miyan?' in Himal Southasian on 27 April 2018

My short  story 'Where is Arsalan Miyan?' in Himal Southasian on 27 April 2018 Right in the middle of the sprawling Nakhasa Bazaa...