Author: Tonmoy Gogoi, Lyricist & Rhythm Guitarist, Awrr
When people talk about a band, they are often interested in the origin story of it, meaning how all of it started. And probably that’s why that is what we also get asked a lot (along with the inevitable ‘What is the meaning of Awrr?’). To be honest, the origin story of our band is fairly simple as well as unexpected. The fact that we all are from the same place, a small place called Dhakuakhana(see map here) in the Lakhimpur district of Assam and knew each other from our childhood helped in the formation of the band. It was during the summer holidays of 2015. At that time I have just finished my B.Sc. from Cotton College, Prankrishna was doing his B.Sc. from North Lakhimpur College and Avijeet has just finished his Class 12th from Salt Brook. One afternoon I was in Prankrishna’s home, we just decided to jam with our guitars and we called Avijeet whose home is just 10 mins away. When the three of us sat down with our guitars and started playing popular songs, mostly Assamese, we suddenly thought why don’t we try to create a song of our own. We started to look for different ideas and themes on which we can base our song. But we didn’t give up and finally came up with the first two lines of what later became “Xopunor Baat”. We also had some ideas of how it will go further and at that point, we ourselves were pretty fascinated by the whole idea of actually completing the song that we started. So the next day, we met again and Prankrishna invited Kaushik as well because he also played guitar and all three of us knew him. We progressed a little bit with the tune and lyrics over a few days after that but we had to halt the project because the vacation was coming to an end and all of us went to our respective institutes. Bear in mind, till this point there was no discussion of actually forming an official band. It was just a fun project and that was all.
It was the December of that year that all of us met again and we got back to finishing what we started. It was at this point that we first thought of ourselves as a band. While we were halfway to finishing the song, for the first time we started to discuss that if we complete the song, we would need someone to sing it. As none of us were quality singers (and some of us are really bad at it), Avijeet suggested that we bring in his friend Diptanshu, who was his schoolmate. As we also knew him, he was asked by Avijeet, “Do you want to join our band?”. Of course, Diptanshu was more than excited to join our journey, completing the pentagon that became the band named ‘Awrr’. After Diptanshu came, together we finished writing and composing the whole song. Unfortunately, the winter break was over and we left Dhakuakhana.
Although the other guys used to meet during Bohag bihu, me and Kaushik couldn’t come because I was in IIT Madras for my Masters and he was in Bharath University, Chennai doing engineering. Therefore, it was during the summer break of 2016 that we decided to record and release the song. Prankrishna suggested a studio in Gugamukh run by Mahendra Dutta where we did our recording of “Xopunor Baat”. At this point, Kaushik had to leave because his semester started. At first we thought of making only the audio recording, but as we wanted it to be bigger than ‘just another song’, we decided upon making a video along with it. Well, to do a video, we needed a videographer and we didn’t have any contacts with anyone. Then I remembered about Asutosh Kashyap, whom I had met in an art exhibition in Cotton College, when we both were studying there. I contacted him and we talked about the kind of storyline, camera work as well as the costs. He agreed to come to our place with three of his friends, Hadwt, Pritam and Debabrat. For the lead role of our story in the video, Diptanshu suggested Swapnil, a kid of 8th standard who is also Diptanshu’s neighbour. We decided to base our story on Jibon Mohan, a visually impaired tablist from Dhakuakhana whom we had seen from a young age and it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the struggles of his life as we see it. And thus we started the video shoot in our native place of Dhakuakhana without any prior experience of doing anything of this sort. Ideas came running from both sides, us and the camera crew guys and Swapnil amazed us with his acting prowess despite of his young age. During the shooting we faced problems related to shooting that we never knew existed. Prankrishna was getting admission in Tezpur University for Masters and he had to leave the shoot after the first day. So, it was me, Avijeet and Diptanshu handling the whole project along with the four guys from the video team. It was extremely tough, because it was an unknown territory for us. But we endured, we didn’t let the dream of completing the project go away. The shoot took 4 days, on the last day of the shoot we went to Gerukamukh for the outdoor shoot near hills and a small river. Believe me, when we packed up the whole project on that day and I was driving the car returning home, we felt the kind of happiness that is beyond any expression. The project tested our strength and we didn’t give up and kept going until we finished it. After the shoot, Diptanshu and Avijeet went back to resume their studies, in Cotton College and Arya Vidyapeeth respectively and I left for IIT Madras to resume my 3rd semester.
We released our music video via YouTube on 1st of September, 2016 and we still remember that day. Just the joy of people watching something that you created is something that can’t be explained. And when they not only watch it, but love it and say that they felt a connection with the story, it makes you more than happy. “Xopunor Baat” was like a baby to all of us and every time people ask about it we become excessively excited. As of now, it has gained 35,000 views on the YouTube channel of Awrr Official and this is beyond all of our imagination. If anyone told me we will get even 10,000 views, I wouldn’t have believed him.
So, this was the first single with which we debuted as a band. Now to talk about the goals and ideas of the band, I think the origin story tells the reader that we are doing this for us. We love music, we love our guitars, we love creating new things, be it the stories, songs and articles that Prankrishna and I write, or the compositions that Avijeet and Diptanshu creates or the creative marketing decisions that Kaushik provides. Hence the purpose of Awrr is to create some new, unique and beautiful music that other people love and that we are proud of. We want our music to represent not only us individually, but the brotherhood and love that we share among us, and most importantly we want to project our native place Dhakuakhana through our works. Maybe that is why we did our shoot in our place, choosing to portray an artist from our place by a child actor from the same place. Although it might not be as prominent as “Xopunor Baat” in our future works, but the shadow of Dhakuakhana will be there.
Coming on to the challenges of it, there are many. First of all, being apart in five different places, it is hard to coordinate our timings and to do a project. Therefore, we had to wait for one and a half year to finally do the second project “Herua Xubaax” which is set to release in February, 2018. One of the challenges is that we didn’t know anyone from the music industry or the film industry beforehand. We are just five guys dreaming of making some beautiful work and we somehow manage to do it. For that we have to dig out any contact we can find, either from social media or other friends. The other challenge, probably the biggest is that unlike professional artists, we don’t have any production house behind us, and no giant team working on our projects. It is just the five people you see on the photos that do everything, literally everything. The financial constraint also kicks in, as we all are student.
But I don’t want to talk about the challenges much. Because more than challenging, we find the whole process fun and way more exciting. To do this kind of work with four other guys that you love is certainly a bliss. And bigger tha obstacle, more rewarding is touching the finishing line. No matter the challenges, we have always come on top of it, be it “Xopunor Baat” or “Herua Xubaax”. The reason for this may be the indominable willpower, the love for our dreams and also the tight brotherhood that we share among us. We have recently finished recording and shooting the single “Herua Xubaax” and it was even more fun and tougher than the first one. Yet we didn’t bow down and achieved it in the little window of time that we had earlier decided. We sincerely hope that people like this project as much as they did the last one.
And last but not the least, we, the band Awrr thanks Miss Chimi Doley as well as the association for asking about our journey so far and providing a platform to tell the story.
(This article is published by MISAD, Delhi University)
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