With his new single, singer-songwriter Rahul Rajkhowa spreads the message of hygiene and harmony
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in India, Guwahati-based singer-songwriter Rahul Rajkhowa has written a song titled Haath Dhona Mat Bhoolna. It is about the importance of washing hands properly plus the fact that we have to live together in harmony more than ever since the virus doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race or religion. The song is his take on recent racial discrimination against the people from Northeast India living in other cities. In a detailed chat with Indulge, the singer speaks about the making of the song, choosing to stay put in Mumbai since he didn’t want to risk taking the virus to Guwahati, indulging in his hobbies and the learning from the quarantine period. Excerpts:
Q: Why did you come up with this song?
Several shows, a big-budget music video shoot and a mega album launch tour got postponed because of the lockdown, and I didn’t want that to deter me from creating music. I’ve always loved addressing issues through my music so when Additional Director General of Police in Assam, Hardi Singh, who was also my college senior, asked me to make a song that encourages hygiene and social distancing, I jumped at the idea.
Q: This song has a very happy positive vibe to it...
Yes, I feel we need a lot of positivity at this point in time. Everybody is homebound and quite a few of us are frustrated (not without cause) because of the circumstances, economic stalemate and other issues. So, everyone naturally looks towards someone to blame or hold accountable. Also, with the rising racial discrimination against the Northeastern folk because of the coronavirus, I thought it’s important to remind people through positive happy music that we are all in this together. The virus doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion. Humey saaf rehna hai, Humey saath rehna hai (We have to stay clean, we have to stay together).
Q: How did you shoot this video and who edited it?
I shot it on my balcony on my iPhone XR. My Hindi lyricist and very close friend, Azmat Ali Campwala, whom I met on the sets of Bewakoofiyan where I was playing a supporting role, edited it. He also co-wrote this song with me.
Q: Where are you? Are you back home or are you stuck in some other city?
I’m in Mumbai at the moment. I teach history to class 11 at Hill Spring International. I chose to stay put because Mumbai has been hit very hard by the virus and I didn’t want to risk taking it back to Assam.
Q: How has quarantine affected you?
At first, I was a little upset because this year was supposed to be big for me. I just finished an international tour, did a show in Thailand on invitation by the Consulate of Chiang Mai and was supposed to tour several countries and release an album that has been in the making for almost a year. However, I soon realised that everyone has been impacted because of this and the best thing I can do right now is to stay motivated and positive for the sake of my team and all the people who believe in me. So, I’ve been working out, dancing, playing guitar and writing more songs every day. I am also reading Frank Sinatra’s autobiography and binging on Money Heist. I plan to come out two times better than I was once this phase gets over.
Q: There must be some things that you would have put under 'when I will have time, I will do this' wishlist. Were you able to do any of it?
I had put dancing on hold for the longest time. I love dancing. So I’m really really glad to get back to it. Will be uploading a lot of dance videos on Instagram in the coming weeks.
Q: Has this phase brought any change in you?
I’ve learned three things. First, it’s very important to invest in yourself, we get busy with work and forget what our body needs to stay healthy. Second, the earth is definitely teaching us a lesson by pausing all the hate and working towards figuring a solution in unity. I feel sad to see the communal discourse post the Nizamuddin incident or the global hatred towards the Chinese. But all the hate posts on social media will not turn back time and take the virus away. And third, we need to spend more quality time with our loved ones, plant more trees and stop taking nature for granted. We definitely need this planet more than it needs us. All the money, all the debates we win on religion and politics cannot save us from a pandemic.
Q: What next?
There is a music video shoot for my first commercial single, and then there is an album launch tour. However, if this pandemic takes longer then I’ve been working on some interesting quarantine music from my bedroom.