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2021 | 70 minutes
A film by Surabhi Sharma
Produced by Tejaswini Niranjana, The Saath-Saath Project
In collaboration with Omkar Havaldar, Rutuja Lad, Bindhumalini, Zhe Lai, Zhang Yi, Kimho Ip, Chow Yiu-Fai and Tejaswini Niranjana
Cultural exchange and experimentation in music across the borders of east and south Asia date back to the time of the Tang Dynasty in seventh century China. Encounters in medieval port cities generated conversations in and of music. These relations in history however are hard to trace today. In the absence of a shared language can music explore and express ideas, emotions, histories? Music Across the Waters: The Saath-Saath Project brought together musicians and scholars from India and China over a period of four years. This film follows their conversations set in studios, galleries and rehearsal rooms away from the hubbub of bazaars and streets.
These black/white box settings stage the meetings that unfold through silences, through listening, through tones and notes. Using both transcribed text of actual conversations and re-inscribed text of things left unsaid Movement Traces re-assembles a collaborative process of crossing boundaries and making music.
Tejaswini Niranjana is the author of several books, including Mobilizing India: Women, Music and Migration between India and Trinidad (Duke UP, 2006), and Musicophilia in Mumbai: Performing Subjects and the Metropolitan Unconscious (Duke UP, 2020). She has also edited the anthology, Music, Modernity and the Public Sphere in India (OUP, 2020). Having worked closely with Surabhi Sharma on two earlier music-related films, she has curated and implemented the Saath-Saath music collaboration project since 2016.
Surabhi Sharma is a filmmaker based in Abu Dhabi and Mumbai. Her documentaries, fiction, and video installations engage with cities in transition using the lens of labor, music, and migration. Cinema verite and ethnography are the genres that inform her filmmaking. She is currently teaching in the Film and new Media Programme at New York University Abu Dhabi.
Sharma’s films have been screened and awarded at international film festivals and are included in teaching curricula in universities in North America and India. Her works have been screened at International Film Festivals like Dubai International Film Festival, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, MAMI Mumbai Film Festival amongst others. Her video installations have been exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery, London; nGbK, Berlin; Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture; and the 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016).
Omkarnath Havaldar, born into a family of musicians, was initiated into Hindustani classical music by his father Dr. Nagarajrao Havaldar, a well-known Hindustani classical vocalist. He was trained under masters like Pandit Madhava Gudi of Kirana Gharana and Pandit Panchakshari Swami Mattigatti of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana, and is now pursuing his training in Dhrupad and Khayal from Pandit Indudhar Nirody. Having done his MA in Music, he is also a recipient of the Kishora Pratibha Puraskar instituted by the Government of Karnataka (2000). He has performed all over the USA, at Yale University and the Chicago Center of Music, and at concerts in China and Hong Kong through Saath-Saath.
Rutuja Lad was initiated into music by her parents Tanuja Lad and Umesh Lad when she was 5 years old. Later, she started learning from Dhondutai Kulkarni of the Jaipur Atrauli Gharana and was under her tutelage until she passed away in 2014. Now she studies with Dr. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande. She also learns harmonium from Shri Sudhir Nayak. Rutuja has performed at prestigious events all over India. She stood first in her MA programme in Music from the S.N.D.T University, where she is presently a visiting faculty member. She has performed all over China and Hong Kong through Saath-Saath.
Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy is a singer, composer, and graphic designer. She has training in both Carnatic and Hindustani classical forms but has constantly strived to explore other forms and traditions outside of her strict classical roots. This has helped her develop an easy yet confident personal style as a performer. Suno Bhai is her first music album created in collaboration with Vedanth Bharadwaj. She has directed music for feature and documentary films such as Harikatha Prasanaga, Nathicharami, Sethumaan, Brahmi, Conversations at the Kumbh, surey number zero and Coral Woman. She and Vedanth co-directed music for Aruvi, a Tamil film. Bindhumalini is part of collaborations like The Threshold, Khusrau ke rang, Akath Kahani and Saath-Saath. She won the 66th National Award and Filmfare Award as Best Singer for the songs she created and sang in the film Nathicharami.
Zhe Lai is a vocalist coming from Hexi in Gansu Province.
She was trained as a traditional folk singer. Nourished by the traditional, national culture of China’s northwest, she gradually found her own original way to express herself by collaborating with a wide variety of creative artists. Then she decided to become a Sound Explorer exploring the multiplex possibilities of vocal music, succeeding in redefining everything she has learned with her voice. She is an indispensable member of the Saath-Saath ensemble.
Zhang Yi (Zen)
Zhang Yi (Zen) is a Pipa and Guzheng player, composer and Chinese instrumental music arranger. Graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, he holds a Master of Arts in Pipa performance and had Guzheng performance as his second major. Influenced by various music genres as well as his overseas experience, Yi Zhang’s music includes elements ranging from Jazz, Indian folk music, Chinese folk music, electronica, and Ragga.
After joining Universal Music in 2008, Yi has participated as a Pipa and Guzheng player in numerous productions, including Sa Ding Ding’s album “Harmony” (2010), produced by Marius de Veries and Karen Mok’s jazz album “Somewhere I Belong” (2014) produced by Ross Cullum. Yi worked with the Swiss jazz pianist Marc Mean and published “Long Tang” (Alleyway, 2014). His solo album “Light through the Clouds” was published in 2015. He has studied Hindustani music with Omkar Havaldar as part of the Saath-Saath project.
Kimho Ip studied in music and received his Doctor of Philosophy in 2004 at the University of Edinburgh, the United Kingdom. In 2011 and 2014 he has been invited to be Research Fellow at the International Research Centre, Interweaving Performance Culture at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Kimho is active in playing the Chinese dulcimer (Yang Ch’in), especially performing with the Dutch saxophonist Filip Davidse for silent films. Major performances include appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London. He has been invited to give guest lectures in the UK and Germany as well as at the Peking University in China.
Chow Yiu Fai
Chow Yiu Fai received his PhD degree at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam. Currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing of Hong Kong Baptist University, Chow’s research fields include gender and sexuality, creative practices and cultural studies at large. His co-authored book Sonic Multiplicities: Hong Kong Pop and the Global Circulation of Sound and Image (Intellect) is also available in Chinese. Next to his academic work, Chow is also an award-winning writer. He released his first lyrics in 1989. Since then he has penned some 1,000 lyrical works for a diversity of pop artists in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. In addition to many lyrics awards, Chow’s prose work A Long, Long Farewell won the Recommendation Prize of the biennale Hong Kong Literary Awards (Essays). Lately, Chow has been increasingly involved in multi-media and visual art projects.