Reflections on April 2015

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This month I travelled to Amritsar to shoot the video for my track ‘Aukhee Gharhee’. Collaborator Jyotsna Srikanth, who plays violin on the track, also made the trip and appears in the film.

The video has been months in the planning with the team at Clockwork Studios, Mumbai. Myself and the Director, Mrinal, worked together to carve out the creative concept that would achieve two crucial goals; firstly to create a beautiful, evocative film that complements the music at hand. Secondly to present sensitively and accurately the important work Kirtan for Causes and The S.O.S Initiative are delivering in rural Punjab.

The first day of filming involved over 150 adults and children from the local area. Many of the young people involved are undertaking education sponsored by The S.O.S Initiative. The scene was shot in the resplendent rolling countryside, where village life bustles alongside stretching fields and farms. It was a demanding first day of filming. With so many people involved retakes to gather different camera angles and capture the moving sunlight were challenging but made possible by the hard work and boundless enthusiasm of everyone involved. My endless thanks to them all.

The second day of shooting required us to walk through village where so many of these children live in cement homes with very little light and no electricity. There were broken roads and piles of garbage everywhere: it was a humbling feeling to realise how much we have, how little we appreciate and how vital the provision of a good education is to the future of the children living in these locations.

The rest of the shoot took place in the grounds of Amritsar’s famous Golden Temple. The building needs no introduction: ornate, shimmering, peaceful – it was the perfect setting to complement my arrangement of Sikh kirtan. Jyotsna and I were filmed performing in a variety of locations, this time with a smaller number of children from The S.O.S Initiative.

Every day was a 3:30am start with long drives to reach locations for shooting. I personally meet my kids and their families once a year but shooting with them was a new experience. We all had a lot of fun – one of the kids now wants to be a director! The entire experience was a blessing – the daily forecast for rain made the sky gently cloudy and gave us some relief from the heat. As the shoot wrapped, the good weather we had been blessed with was replaced with drizzling skies and brooding clouds – we were so fortunate to have warm days and gentle daylight whilst working, it would have been quite a different story had we been battling with rain on set. Two members of the camera team were so moved by the work of The S.O.S Initiative they have now begun to sponsor children via the charity. Acts like this make everything we do worthwhile – these relationships will change lives, enabling underprivileged children to gain access to education. To learn more about how you can help, visit www.manikamusic.com

This month I’ll be working on the editing process for the music video. I will also be devoting time to preparations for my debut London show at the Union Chapel on 22 August 2015. My creativity is stirring and I’m working on three new exclusive tracks for this show. All ticket sales from the benefit concert will go directly to Kirtan for Causes and help adopt and educate impoverished children. I’ll be announcing details of how to purchase tickets for the show shortly…