BHUJ: Kutch may be Gujarat’s most barren region, but it has given birth to people with the most fertile imagination. Films, music, literature... Kutchis have left their imprint on everything creative. Not surprising then that this land of ideas resurrected itself from the 2001 earthquake in no time.
In fact Bollywood, India’s biggest symbol of soft power, has a lot to thank Kutch for. From legendary music director Naushad to the latest stars Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, many music directors have roots here. Naushad’s first film in 1941, ’Prem Nagar’, was set in Kutch. "I did a lot of research on folk music of the area," Naushad recollected in one of his last interviews.
Nearly two decades later, Kalyanji and Anandji Shah from the sleepy village of Kundrodi, hit the scene with their music and remained a hit pair in the film industry for decades. Now, brothers Salim and Sulaiman, whose family migrated from Mundra to Mumbai, are dishing out 21st century hits in films like ’Dhoom’ and ’Chak de! India’. Shekhar Ravjiani, of the Vishal-Shekhar music directing duo, is also from Kutch.
Kutchis are even leaving a global imprint. Tanvi Shah is one of them. She penned the Spanish version of AR Rehman’s hit number ’Jai Ho...’ and received a Grammy last year. Her family runs a girls school in Bhuj. Last year, she performed with Rahman in Australia and Muscat among other places.
One reason for the constant flow of melody from Kutch may come from its geography. It has absorbed musical traditions from all its neighbours — Sindh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Legend, too, has a big role to play. Kutch is the only place in Gujarat, where love legends of Laila Majnu and Heer Ranjha are still remembered in songs. Some of Gujarat’s best folk tales, like ’Haji Kasam ni Vijli’ and ’Jesal Toral’ are from the region. Besides, the ancient Sufi form singing - ’Vai’ - has been preserved in remote areas of Kutch.
"Kutch presents an epitome of the larger story of India - constant invasions; of fusion of culture, dawning a sense of nationalism," says writer LF Rushbrook William, one of the most authentic chroniclers on Kutch.
Penning the pain of quake After getting the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award for Gujarati literature this year for his novel ’Chhavani’ based on the theme of earthquake, Dhirendra Mehta has decided to focus on the economic boom of Kutch for his proposed new novel. The Bhuj based writer, like everybody else in and out of this border district, is stunned at the pace of industrial growth in the last ten years and is trying to study the social impact on the people of Kutch. Mehta believes that people in Kutch still feel alienated in this growth.
"( Thanks to Shri Navin Dedhia for forwarding this excellent clip)