REKESH CHAUHAN ON HIS MEANINGFUL NEW SONG
by ASJAD NAZIR
ACCLAIMED pianist and composer Rekesh Chauhan has always kept things interesting by mixing up his musical projects and has been busy during lockdown releasing meaningful songs.
Recently, he marked World Mental Health Day by releasing emotion-filled song Neelam’s Story, which is beautifully sung by classical vocalist Saylee Talwakar and has dance talent Shree Savani in the video. It is the latest chapter for an award-winning artist, with a growing body of impressive work.
Eastern Eye caught up with Rekesh Chauhan to discuss his new message driven song and importance of mental health.
Where do you draw your inspirations from today?
I draw my inspirations from wanting to make a positive difference to connect with people from all walks of life. Each individual has a special gift, and we must take the time to observe and learn from each other to broaden our minds. It is often when you pay attention to the smallest of details that you can draw the most creativity from.
What led you towards creating your new song and video?
Arts enable us to have difficult conversations and that is what I wanted to achieve through this video. Music has always been a profound force; I know it can make a difference to how people feel. I wanted to use my music in a positive way to make a difference during the pandemic, which is affecting the mental health of so many.
Tell us about the song?
The song narrates a true story through music and dance, featuring the very talented dancer Shree Savani, who won the BBC Young Dancer Of The Year, and vocalist Saylee Talwalkar. It tells the real life story of mental health beneficiary, Neelam (name anonymised), who was, as a result of her cousin’s suicide, deeply affected and was then able to get the help she really needed. Her story is narrated delicately through music and dance.
Who are you hoping connects with the song?
It is mainly targeted at the South Asian community who are disproportionally affected as a result of Covid-19. Though art has no barriers and it resonates with everyone, the underlying message is to help those who are vulnerable open up and seek professional help. There is a clear call to action where people can receive help at the end of the video.
How does this compare to other music projects you have done?
I’ve had three other releases during the pandemic, with tremendously talented artists – (gifted violinist) Nandini Shankar, (famed singer) Gayatri Asokan and another project spearheaded by Sangeeta Datta, with lyrics by Javed Akhtar. With this track, I’ve pushed the boundaries to a much more electronic soundscape.
What inspired the music video?
I was inspired by reading a case study of a charity, which carries out excellent work impacting millions of people in the region of South Asia. Upon chancing on the story, it felt like reading a script for a movie. I was very moved and there was a vivid vision of what Neelam would have been going through, which felt necessary to bring to life through arts.
How critical is mental health issue now?
I’m concerned it’s going to be a huge issue, especially with those who don’t necessarily have awareness and access to vital support and services. One in four people are affected, and it is more pronounced in South Asian communities, so it is critical that we act now.
How much would you say music has helped you during lockdown?
Music is my meditation. I don’t necessarily find the time that I used to play in a recreational fashion, though due to the number of projects I am committed to these days.
What can we expect next from you?
I’ve had offers to turn Neelam’s Story into a theatre production, however, I remain focused on releasing music that have been lingering projects over the years. It’s important to be relevant as an artist, but I won’t dilute the earnestness of the subject.
Neelam’s Story can be found on YouTube: @Rekesh-Chauhan & also visit Instagram: @rekeshchauhan) and www.rekeshchauhan.com