Prashidh Rai brings music and activism to Gangtok

Gangtok, 28 May:

Singing of alternative societies, of speaking up and of love-in-the-times-of-hardship, 27-year-old Prashidh Rai was at the event “Background with Music”, at Artem, Gangtok. With seven songs, accompanied by brief discussions on each, Rai sang his original compositions, all in Nepali – blending folk and freestyle music, informs a press release.

From Sonada, Darjeeling, the singer-songwriter-activist believes in “art for people’s sake and not art for art’s sake”. Speaking of his own experiences of the struggle, Prashid Rai told the audience that “when all forms of communication were cut off, during the Gorkhaland Movement, a cultural group was formed”. Rai is also a part of Lali Guraas, an artist plus activist group, in Darjeeling.

Influenced by the songs of “Narayan Gopal, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley,” Rai addresses wage, gender equality, labour, and religious fundamentalism, through his music. With frank anecdotes, Rai told the audience of how “a documentary has been made, to paint glossy pictures of medical facilities, private facilities etc,” to hide the true story of the tea estate labourers.

When asked about his own background in music, he said, “My father sang the same songs of freedom, for the working class.” His mother too had equal influence upon his music as she herself was part of a cultural group. His two siblings took up formal music lessons while Prashidh Rai himself studied psychology and is currently pursuing ITI in electrical engineering. Rai’s songs come with insight from “his own experiences of the struggle in his younger years”.

Moderated by Manila Tamang and Upendra Gurung, the event was organised by Artem, a space that “celebrates work-of-art and artists from the northeastern states of India”, the release mentions.