Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Origin of Kohal

Kohal is an adda of amateur musicians. Kohal transcends all conventional boundaries of music and aims at entertaining people with any and evey genre of music known to and enjoyed by the members.

The origin of Kohal dates back to mid-nineties when a few of us, Anandaroop aka Goopi, Manu Verghese, Subhashish Satapathy aka Satu, Ashwin Kamath aka Bachcha, Debashish Sarkar, myself and few others, all staying in RK Hall in IIT KGP had come together to win back the Inter Hall Eastern Music Competition from Nehru Hall!! That was, most probably in '94, in my 3rd year. Not to mention that we'd won the inter Hall event, reviving the lost glory of RK Hall in excellence in music. This gave us the opportunity to perform in the innauguration of 1995 Spring Fest. The enthusiasm was further increased when, in a short while, we all became part of the Eastern TMS (Technology Music Society), the official Music Band of IIT KGP. Subsequently for the next many years RK Hall remained the seat for Eastern TMS. We're joined by Kanishka aka Molu, Dilip aka Fish, Ranjita aka Bhags and few more people in July 95. We brought drastic changes in the format of the TMS shows. He proved to the people that good music doesn't have any genre or age or class. We performed our signature numbers ranging from semi-classical, fusion, folk, old and new songs and even Bengali songs to packed Netaji Auditorium. I graduated in 96, Goopi in 97, Molu & Bhags in 98, Fish in 99, but the tradition of good genre-less music continued in RK Hall and Eastern TMS for quite some time.

I settled in Bangalore, Goopi went to Boulder in Colorado and Molu & Bhags to University of California at San Diego, California for their higher studies. We're always in touch. But we never got a chance to perform together again till 2007. Goopi moved to Bangalore in 2004 and Molu & Bhags, by then already married to themselves, in 2007. In all these years we'd always aspired to perform together and revive our TMS. Very soon after Molu & Bhags had moved to Bangalore we started discussions about our plan to put up a performance. The opportunity came very soon. We're given a prime slot to perform in the Durga Puja organized by Sarathi in Koramangala in 2007. Few of us had already performed in the same place in 2005 with very limited resource. In 2007 we wanted to put up a very professional show. We're joined by Kamalesh Ghosh, Kanishka's batch-mate and very good guitarist and singer. He was part of the Western TMS during his KGP days. Between myself, Goopi, Molu, Bhags & Kamalesh we'd a lead guitarist (Kamalesh), base (Molu), two male singers (Goopi & Kamalesh), one female singer (Bhags) and one violin (myself). But that was not sufficient to put up a compact show. We needed one more female singer, drums and a key-boardist. That's when we're joined by Bhag's colleagues Amrita (female singer) along with her husband Parag (key-boardist) & Ashwin (drummer, who also had his own drum-kit), Kamalesh's colleagues Arindam (another lead guitarist) & Arijit (one more drummer) and Dipanjan (another male singer), a friend of Ritu, Kamalesh's wife!! So finally we'd a complete team. We're missing a percussionist, which we finally hired. We started reherasing as early as August for the show in October. As the drum-kit was not possible to be moved from place to place, Molu & Bhags volunteered to make their house the permanent practice point. The first few practice sessions were spent mainly in debates on song selection. We stuck to our USP, i.e. an exotic platter with a tremendous mix of everything. So finally we had retro songs like Geeta Dut's "Meri Jaan, Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho" & the evergreen "Kajra Mohabbatwala", Rehman's "Dil Hai Chhota Sa" in instrumental, which we'd done innumerable times in IIT, Hemanta's signature song "Gayer Bodhu", new popular numbers like "Aaj Ki Raat" from Don & "Kaisi Pehli" from Parineeta presented in a jazz style and a few popular numbers from contemporary Bengali rock and folk bands. To compere the show we had Jhuma, then a DJ with the Worldspace Radio.

Just before the performance, when the posters for the programs were being printed, we figured out that there has to be a name for our band. That's when I came up with the name Kohal, which is the name of a very uncommon Raaga in Hindustaani Classical Music. The name is attractive, sounds good, is very unique and also related to music. The uncommon name did arouse some curiosity among the audience, something very good for the marketing of the name!!

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