Saturday, 7 January 2017

Souvid Datta | India's Fading Musical Tribes


Photo © Souvid Datta - All Rights Reserved
One easily falls head over heels for India. No question about it. It happened to me in 1998, and I've traveled to its four corners (with some exceptions) over 20 times, imbibing its people, sights, smells, cultures, music and everything in between.

It's well known for its diversity, various physiognomies, languages, religions, traditions and cultures. Across the country’s 29 states, over 500 dialects are spoken, over 800 million reside in booming metropolises, and its rural enclaves are home to over 2000 tribes.

However modernity and globalization exact a price on all nations; especially those with traditions and cultures as deep as those of India. And may well cause the disappearance of its tribes, cultural practices and musicians. For example, the dancing Veerghase troops of Karnataka, the formidable hunting tribes of Nagaland, the revered Kawaili singers of Rajasthan: these groups, once essential and symbolic of their regions, may no longer exist in 15-20 years.

I, for one, delved head first in the hypnotic music of Qawwali, Baul singing, Kathak and Odissi dancing, Kathakali theater and Kalbelya tribal dances....certainly not enough to give me a deep understanding of the musical heritage of this vast country

However, I came across the wonderful Fading Musical Tribes project that documents many of the musical and dancing tribes and artists in India by Souvid Datta, a young Indian photographer, musicologist and videographer.

Souvid Datta was raised between the two metropolises of Mumbai and London, within an artistic and politically active family. He developed an interest in the fields of multimedia journalism, social justice and conflict studies, and although specializing in international law, he developed a passion for photography. He completed commissioned and personal projects across the UK, Italy, Spain, Egypt, India and China, working for clients including The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Independent and Monocle.

Here is a trailer for Souvid's ongoing film series Tuning 2 You: The Lost Musicians of India exploring 12 states across the sub-continent and documenting their spectacular but fading music, dance and art traditions.