His name might not be known in the Bay Area but his voice is known to all,” says Tara Chaliha, lead organizer for the Assam Foundation of North America (AFNA) and the Association for India’s Development’s (AID) upcoming concert by Papon and The East India Company at Chabot College. Papon, also known as Angaraag Mahanta, is an instrumentalist, composer, producer and singer in India. Although originally trained in classical Indian music, Papon is best known for his playback singing in films including Barfi! and Madras Café.
“He was already coming for the Fourth of July to New York, so we were excited to invite him out to the West Coast as well,” says Chaliha.“I saw one of his concerts in India and was amazed at how he drew in the audience, and by his high standard of singing,” describes Chaliha, explaining her excitement in bringing Papon to the Bay Area for the first time. Papon’s mother, Archana Mahanta, and late father, Khagen Mahanta, raised Papon in a rich musical atmosphere. From a foundation of devotional and classical Indian music, Papon has branched out to experiment with electronica, acoustic folk, and electro-ghazals. Discovered during the recording sessions of Coke Studio India, Papon has since collaborated with Midival Punditz, Karsh Kale, Sushmit Sen, Bickram Ghosh, Rabbi Shergill, and Rachel Sermanni. Papon is most famous, of course, for his playback singing. He is featured in “Kyon” from Barfi! and “Maula Sun Le Re” and “Khud Se” from Madras Café. His work is also featured in “Jiyein Kyun” for Dum Maaro Dum and “Zindagi Aisi Waisi” for I Am Kalam. Some of his original hits with Midival Punditz include “Har Ek Baat “and “Naina Laagey.” Papon won the GIMA award for Best Pop Album in 2012 for his album The Story So Far and received two awards in 2013 during the JD Rock Awards. Beyond playing the Jaipur Music Festival twice, Papon also has seven Assamese albums to his name.The East India Company is a six-person band that Papon founded in 2007 to explore folk-fusion music. Their group goal is “moving towards futuristic electronic dimensions while remaining earthed in rich tradition.” Wildly popular in India, The East India Company has performed at the SAARC Music Band Festival in New Delhi, the Eastwind Festival, the Kovalam Literary Festival, and the October Fest in Bangalore. Internationally, Papon and The East India Company have toured the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, the Oslo World Music Festival, and the 2013 World Music Festival in Dubai. The band inaugurated 2014 with three performances at the Celtic Music Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. During the Bay Area concert Papon will be joined by Deepu on bass, Jeenti on guitar, Tanmay on drums, Kirti with world percussion, and Birinchi on keys.“All the proceeds from this concert are going toward the work of AFNA, and AID,” explains Chaliha.
The nonprofit AFNA has worked for 30 years to strengthen understanding and relationships between the United States and Assam while providing a variety of humanitarian and educational assistance in Assam. One of AFNA’s major program areas is supporting children’s education in Assam through scholarships, stipends, and professional internships for students. But AFNA doesn’t stop there. They also support solar lighting, flood relief, microfinance, and education and employment for disabled children and adults in Assam.AID, a well-known Bay Area nonprofit, was founded in 1991 to promote sustainable, equitable, and just development through the support of grassroots organizations in India. The Bay Area branch of AID works simultaneously on projects supporting education, employment, environmental conservation, women’s empowerment, and social justice across India. Papon and The East India Company will provide concertgoers with the perfect opportunity to experience favorite Bollywood hits in person with the benefit of supporting good work in Assam.
July 13, 6:30 p.m., Chabot College Performing Arts Center, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. Tickets start at $25. (408) 475-044. www.uniiverse.com/papon. www.assamfoundation.net/. www.aidindia.org.