Storytelling | Music

The Aahvaan Project has their ektara comment on society

The Aahvaan Project, with Vedi (second from left)

The Aahvaan Project, with Vedi (second from left)   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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In a time of unrest, The Aahvaan Project, a folk music and storytelling collective born in 2015, is coming into its own with performances that comment on society

Vedi Sinha, 27, was drifting along for a while trying to find her niche. The singer-storyteller, who grew up in Delhi, finishing school at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, and later graduating from a film and video course at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, felt uncertain and out of place for a gruelling few months. It was a chance volunteering stint at the week-long travelling folk music festival in Rajasthan, called the Kabir Yatra, that was a point of pivot in her life.

“I went there sometime in 2015 I think. And I went as a volunteer because I had no money at the time,” she recalls. The first few days were busy and a blur. When she finally had the time to attend a performance in full, she was moved. “It was when a singer, Prahlad ji was singing. I felt everything around me fade. For the next two hours, I was so affected,” she says, adding that she “realised how in the garb of spirituality, the idea of humanity gets shoved in the background, and religion takes over.”

She started writing again, weaving her observations and thoughts about the world into stories. “It is a meditative release of emotions of things I’m seeing and feeling around me. I always wanted to understand and tell stories,” Vedi, who has also been conducting storytelling workshops in government schools, through not-for-profit initiatives like Anjuman, Miracle Foundation, Greenpeace, and Balwadi pre-schools, says. She then bought an ektara,a single stringed instrument that produces a distinct twang, and is often heard accompanying travelling folk singers.

“My sister and I learned classical music for a little while as kids, but I never felt like I was fully able to sing. Folk however, allows you to really let your lungs go,” says Vedi.

It felt like a calling — and so, finding collaborators to put the pieces together, she called her effort The Aahvaan Project. The core members today include her twin Pakhi, and long-time collaborators guitarist Ujjwal Raj Sen and percussionist Makrand Sanon.

The group has been performing in intimate gatherings. Their first gig was just a couple months ago at the Indian Women Press Corps, and later at smaller sabha-styled spaces. Kintsugi Studios, a Delhi-based recording space for indie artists has already had a Kintsugi Singles video recorded and produced The Aahvaan Project’s Chakka (up on YouTube).

Tonight, they will perform an hour-long set, called Kahani Lashon Ke Pul Ki. The piece is told through the eyes of Vedi’s ektara, which observes the stories of people and the state of things as it travels through the country along with the artist.

In addition to Vedi’s words, the set includes snippets of poetry by Ali Sardar Zafri and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

7 p.m. onwards on January 11, 2019; for details on the location and venue, email theaahvaanproject@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 2:42:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/the-aahvaan-project-storytelling-with-folk-music-in-times-of-unrest/article30543304.ece

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