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“We will work towards keeping our traditional forms of music alive and present them on a global platform” – Mannan Shaah

There are some artists who spread their wings and explore unchartered territories with time. Mannan Shaah is one of them. After undergoing years of rigorous musical training, Mannan made his debut as a film composer with the Vidyut Jammwal starrer ‘Commando’ (2013). Two years before that, he made his debut as a playback singer with two songs from the film ‘Kucch Luv Jaisaa’ (2011). In 2023, he released ‘Roop Nagar Ke Cheetey’, his first film as a producer. Now, Mannan has embarked upon a journey as an entrepreneur by participating in several initiatives under his newly established organization, uniRISE Research Foundation (URF) for which he is one of the six co-founders.

Recently, uniRISE Research Foundation launched Purple Riyaz which has been designed as an inclusive music app for Persons with Disabilities. The app was launched by Dr. Pramod Sawant, the Honourable Chief Minister of Goa and several other dignitaries. Prior to that, Mannan had composed the theme song for the Purple Fest organized in Goa.

On Instagram, Purple Fest has been described as ‘India’s first of its kind inclusive festival that celebrates person with disabilities’. The government of Goa organizes this festival every year. This year, you composed the theme track for the festival, which was titled ‘Dhumal’. The song has been written by Javed Akhtar. Did you come up with the tune first?

Yes, I composed the tune first. ‘Dhumal’ is a Sanskrit word which means Purple. I was very conscious about creating a song that would sound like an anthem. Since it was Purple Fest, I tried to find a Hindi word for purple. One of the words I came across during my search was ‘baingani’. A lot of people think ‘baingani’ is purple but that’s not true. ‘Baingani’ can be roughly described as a shade of purple and it is closer to violet. ‘Dhumal’ is purple. It is a beautiful Sanskrit word which many had not heard of. So, I decided to create a song around it. 

One day, I was doing riyaaz in Raga Hansadhwani. Suddenly, this tune came in my mind. I often say that tunes conspire in your mind. They are like a blessing. Once the tune started floating around in my mind, it took me a minute to crack the mukhda. When I made Javed saab listen to it, he instantly liked it. We started working on it together. I completed the rest of the composition and Javed saab wrote the lyrics quickly. Once it was done, I shared it with Shri. Subhash Phal Dessai, Honourable Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Commissioner of State for Persons with Disabilities, Shri. Guruprasad Pawaskar and Secretary Shri. Taha Haaziq. All of them loved the melody.

Having an anthem of this kind was quite unique. Last year, a Goan reggae musician had created an interesting anthem for the festival. Since it is an international festival attended by delegates from different countries, we decided to create an anthem in both Hindi and English this time. I wanted a legendary poet to write the Hindi anthem. I requested Javed saab to write it and he instantly agreed. I am hugely grateful to him for collaborating with me on this initiative.

‘Dhumal’ has now been officially declared the National Purple Anthem. It would be performed live by Persons with Disabilities at Purple Fest Delhi to be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on 26th February in the presence of the Honourable President of India. For me and my entire team, it is a moment of immense pride and gratitude.

Javed Akhtar and you had last collaborated on the ‘Namaste England’ soundtrack. How was it working with him after a while?

I always have a blast working with him. Javed saab took just ten minutes to write the anthem. The moment he heard the melody, he said, “kya baat hai Mannan saab, aap ne itni achchi melody compose ki hai”.It is always gratifying when legends appreciate your work.

You have also sung the anthem.

Javed saab insisted on me singing the anthem. I dubbed purple singers from Goa. They were from the Lok Vishwas Pratisthan School in Ponda. The English verse of the Anthem has been sung by Shane Antonio Vaz who is a Meningitis survivor from Colva, Goa and a powerhouse of talent with a very gifted voice.

The Purple Fest is dedicated to specially-abled individuals. Why is it called the Purple Fest?

Purple is the international colour of disability. I attended the Purple Festival last year. It was a very unique experience. Words like ‘disability’, I feel, are very negative. Each of us have certain limitations and there are many things we cannot do. So, every human being is disabled in some or the other way. Hence we all are Purple. That is the whole idea and thought behind the festival.

How did you get associated with this festival?

UniRISE Research Foundation (URF) is an organization co-founded by me and a gentleman named Titus Sequeira along with four other co-founders. Mr. Sequeira lives in Goa and he has been associated with Research and Business Development into the tech industry for close to 40 years. He is retired from his services now. He came back from Canada to give something back to the country. We are working together on a project to set up a centre of excellence in Music in Goa for specially abled and the underprivileged. We will be introducing basic and some of the most necessary concepts of music in schools here and how it should be taught. Music is a universal language and is an integral part of our lives. We want to make people more aware of the intricacies in it and give them the opportunity to understand and practice it. We have plans to set up studios in some of the schools in Goa. Students will be able to practice, record, perform and experience music or music pieces and have music sessions in these studios. We want to educate people about music production and we’re going completely grassroots with it. We are developing it as a pilot project in Goa and eventually we will take it to all the states in India.

What is the objective of UniRISE Research Foundation?

It is for music, about music and by musicians. Elements like arts, handicraft and culinary will also be added to it. We want to reach the grassroots of India. We want to take this project to the interiors of India. Our organization operates on a self-sustainable model. We will work towards preserving and promoting folk music of different Indian states. Apart from folk music, we will also work towards promoting Hindustani Classical music, Carnatic music and all other kinds of music that originates from our country. Our focus would be on Indian music. In Goa itself, there are fourteen different folk music patterns. We will work towards keeping our traditional forms of music alive and present them on a global platform.

UniRISE Research Foundation launched the app Purple Riyaz recently. What is it all about?

Purple Riyaz is India’s first ever all inclusive app focussed on Music training for specially abled individuals. We have tied up with MusicMuni Labs Pvt. Ltd. who are the founders of Riyaz music app for this project. It is a strategic partnership to develop and run RIYAZ app and purpleRIYAZ both. While the app will benefit students, it will also be of great help to those who want to teach music. It will be a tool for teachers to teach and students to learn and eventually build a community at large where we all will practice, record, perform and experience Music.

We launched the Purple Riyaz app in the presence of Dr. Pramod Sawant, the Honourable Chief Minister of Goa and several other dignitaries including on 13th January at the closing ceremony of the International Purple Fest. Both the apps have a very user-friendly interface and shall cater to every music enthusiast. 

Do you have a team in place?

Yes, we have a continuously expanding team. We have Dilip Vaze who is a talented music composer from Goa. We have Divesh Gadekar who is a sound innovator himself. We introduced a totally new concept of a Music Instrument called ‘The Purple Bench’ created by him. It’s a classroom bench amplified into a Musical Instrument by Divesh and we exhibited a concept model of it at the Purple Fest and it was received with a terrific response. We’ll be developing it soon for schools and other institutions. Then we have an advisor in Dr. Pradip Sarmokadam who is the Hon. Member Secretary of the Goa State Biodiversity Board and he’s himself a senior Indian Classical Musician and an inspiration to all of us in the team. There are many more such stalwarts who are a part of us. So that is the kind of passionate people we have in our organization.

You recently collaborated with Sushant Divgikar aka Rani Ko-HE-Nur for a song. How was that experience?

It was simply a fantastic experience to record Sushant. They are a beautiful and an inspiring human being who sings in two distinctive voices. Sushant will be our face for Dhumal to be represented nationally and globally as well which would be followed by many other specially-abled artists nationwide who would be singing their own versions. We released the teaser recently. It’s a big campaign which we are launching nationwide and eventually we will be having collaborations with specially-abled musicians from across the world also. I am totally looking forward to it.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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