When fans around the country anticipated the release of a new song by Anurag Saikia, no one quite knew what it was going to sound like or what theme or form it would take. But one thing was sure, it would be good music. Saikia didn’t disappoint; Kukuha went beyond expectation and is already a hit just a few hours later.
Saikia, a film score composer, instrumentalist and talented music director from Assam, is popularly known for his project Borgeet, wherein 600-hundred-year old Borgeets, a genre of Assamese devotional songs created by 15th-century poet-saint Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciple Madhabdeva, were recorded by the Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra; one of the first ever initiatives of its kind and scale. His work, over the years, has crossed several borders, gaining him popularity abroad as well as locally.
Saikia is certainly not a new name in the film music industry, and this new release has once again proven that he is a force to reckon with in the music scene. He is one of the youngest song composers to be honoured with the Rajat Kamal for his outstanding role as a Non-feature Film Music Director in the movie Yugadrashta. His collaborations are far from being ordinary, as he has worked with top artists like Arijit Singh, Sonu Nigam, and many others.
With so much passion for music, Saikia doesn’t seem to be slowing down soon. His recent project is the music composition for the movie Thappad. Some of the movies that contain his best works include; Article 15, Tup Tup, Shinyor, Majrati Keteki, Dixou Banat Palash, and many more.
Music hits are not new to this versatile composer, as he releases yet another. Kukuha, translated to – a small mass of burning grass or other light substance carried up by wind – in English, is a progressive number. It talks about exhaustion and numbness, brought in by the perplexed emotions of a submissive life. In the line ‘Xubo de xubo de ebaar xubo de, bhagoror Himalaya‘ [ Let me sleep, oh please let me sleep, I’m tired like the Himalayas] , here the fatigue has been compared to the great Himalayas; metaphor of immensity. The exhaustion is to such an extent that it feels like the masses of the burning heart flying up in the wind like burnt ashes, and only sleep could bring some solace. The writer has used several metaphors; comparing the pain to Pitamah Bhisma’s, of Mahabharata, who awaited his death on a bed of arrows.
When asked about his new project – Anurag Saikia Collective – Saikia says, “I’m involved in a lot of work in movies, TVCs, albums and others. But occasionally, when I want to do work that is self satisfying and low pressure with little need for approval from people, it becomes more of following my passion and listening to what the heart wants. That is how I started this project.”
For the success of his recent project, Saikia reveals that he collaborated with Pan-Indian musicians to produce music specific to the different regions. The first release is an Assamese song, i.e. Kukuha, next will be a Tamil song set to be released in October, followed by songs in Haryanvi, Telugu, Bangla and more. “For the second season, I will be working with musicians outside India; musicians from across the world. The main idea of this project is to spread the Northeast Indian and Assamese culture to every nook and cranny, through music,” he added.
He further elucidates on the details of his latest song. Kukuha, is composed by him and sung by vocalist Shankuraj Konwar, who Saikia says has always impressed him with his music. According to Saikia, Kukuha is not an easy song, and that is why it needed to be sung by someone with an idea of how to compose music too.
“One of my favourite writers, Rahul Gautam Sharma, wrote this song; I’ve always looked forward to working with him. I knew when we finally worked together, our work had to be special,” Saikia noted with a chuckle.
The talented composer discloses the actual scheduled date for the release of Kukuha was last month, but disasters like flood and the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to wait a bit longer. Saikia adds that he and his team put in a lot of work to produce quality results, from start to finish. “The video was handled by Esha Agarwal, who has a very creative mind. She is an animation artist who also ventures into directing. When I was looking for animation professionals for this project, I stumbled upon her work in Tajdar Junaid’s Ekta Golpo, and that was how I found her. I instantly loved the work and looked for a way to contact her,” he says.
Inspiration for great projects often comes in various ways for many great musicians. For this award-winning music director, the inspiration for Kukuha came about while he was still working on the Borgeet project. Guitarist Ishan Das was working on a song called Miseries for Silver Tears, which is the name of his band, right there in his studio. “I fell in love with the song and I asked him if he would like to collaborate with me for something like that. He answered that he would love to but people may not like it.
“That only sparked the daring part of me, the part that likes to try new things and do the unconventional. Because if we say we do independent music, shouldn’t it be completely independent?” he asks with a wry smile. Kukuha sees the involvement of some of the finest musicians from the industry: Ishan Das on guitar, Vivian D’Souza on bass, Nawaz Hussain on drums, Anubhav Gogoi on synth, Saikia on khol, and backing vocals by Kavya-Kriti, Pritom Gohain Boruah, and Arabinda Neog.
For the success of the project, a team of experienced creative minds contributed their expertise to ensure nothing was lacking. Most of these people connected with Saikia online. Kowsick Borgohain and Rituparna Bora were excellent; they produced graphical animations and brilliant artworks. The overall creative aspect was left to Bitopan Kashyap, who is more than capable. The mixing and mastering of the song was done by the brilliant Bhaskar Sarma.
Although the current pandemic and resultant lockdown has dictated the pace to which Saikia creates music. The star musician is not worried as everything will soon return to normal, and he will soon continue releasing sweet meaningful melodies once again.