Interview with Extended & Enlarged Interview of Jogiraj Sikidhar – Founder-Director of Malhaar.

Interview with Extended & Enlarged Interview of Jogiraj Sikidhar – Founder-Director of Malhaar.

The latest interview of Jogiraj Sikidar brings into accord with the boundless diversity with some people! You only wonder how they get so much of talent, devotion and energy. Jogiraj Sikidar's most stunning concerts: Rooh-e-Ishq, and Jashn-e-Awadh proclaim guarantee of everlasting, meaningful pleasure.

In the midst of the present global turmoil, Jogiraj Sikidar should lead his audience into extravagant theatre-experience to deal with difficult riddles that are leading to so much destruction. That canvas must be a real one like his earlier creations… bestowing favours on how important it is to spread the meaning of: Peace.

Here's the narration of Jogiraj Sikidar's interview, in his own dialogue. It is as follows:

"First of all, thank you so much Geeta for inviting me again to converse for Different Dialogues.

During the course of my last two conversations with you in "Different Dialogues", I have discussed mostly about myself, my background, education, training, etc, and very briefly about Malhaar. This time I would like to take the discussion more about my dream project - Malhaar.

I would like to start the discussion with a statement made by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, had said - If You Want To Walk Fast, Walk Alone. If You Want To Walk Far, Walk Together. That statement has had a lot of influence on my thought process. Malhaar is an artist's movement in the UAE - Of the Artists, For the Artists and By the Artists. Now, Malhaar is 6 years old and has travelled a long way to popularize Indian music and art amongst global audience.

Who we are
Malhaar is the first and largest non-profit, performing ensemble of expat artists in the UAE; sharing India's rich and diverse artistic heritage with global connoisseurs. Established in 2010, Malhaar has today over 100 musicians, dancers, vocalists and other performing artists from across the sub-continent, numerous artistic collaborations and many successful shows to its credit.

What we perform
From Indian choral music to Hindustani classical, folk and other contemporary music, Malhaar has inculcated diversity and performed across vast genres. Malhaar is best known for its thematic mega-musicals, inspired by Indian culture, folklore and history. With over 100 expat artistes on stage - actors, dancers, visual artists, poets and playwrights - we create grand, Broadway-style musical productions, on stage. Be it 'Rooh-e-Ishq' or 'Jashn-e-Awadh' or 'O Ganga' or 'Draupadi', every Malhaar production has received tremendous critical acclaim and always been a sellout show.

How we operate
Malhaar is a musical movement of expat artists and for expat artists. It runs purely with the voluntary effort of its members and the support of the expat South-Asian community in the UAE. Our members include housewives, students, working professionals and other full-time artistes, who meet in the after hours to share their passion for music and art. They collectively contribute with their professional skills - as designers, writers, marketing & sales managers, accountants, architects, etc. - to help run the organization. From the inception of an idea till the final performance on stage, each member commits up to an average of 4-20 hours every week for each production. Our theatrical productions are primarily funded through corporate sponsorships and the profit earned through these productions is donated, in its entirety to support a significant social cause.

Our Passion
To provide a unique and credible platform to UAE-based expat South-Asian musicians and performing artists with exceptional talent to collaborate and create original, inspiring musical experiences for the global audience.

Our Purpose
•To provide a reputable learning and performance platform to professional and amateur musicians and other performing artists from the South Asian sub-continent, currently residing in the UAE.

•To share the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the Indian sub-continent by creating thematic, thought-provoking and captivating musicals.

•To raise awareness and appreciation for different genres of South Asian music and performing arts (with focus on classical arts) amongst NRIs and global music connoisseurs in the UAE .

•To foster the spirit of 'learning, teaching and giving selflessly' through a voluntary format, where the mentors, performers and supporting members contribute their skill, time and effort without any monetary expectations."

** To be continued in a forthcoming issue.

In conversation with Mr. Jogiraj Sikidar (which appeared in the month of September 2011) – Senior Creative Producer.

Professional Background: Television Media Professional with more than 16 years of experience as Senior Producer spanning television news channels (Zee News, TVI – India's first 24x7 English news channel); non-news channels (National Geographic Channel India, History Channel, India) DTH platform (Showtime, Dubai, U.A.E). Presently, Senior Creative Producer with MBC Group, Dubai, U.A.E.

I remember that late afternoon a couple of months back, when I invited Jogiraj Sikidar for the interview at my home in Dubai. The source of his narration composed the matter of his achievements. Now that I am writing about the interview, maybe he is already in hot pursuit of research to begin another soul-thrilling production of theatre. We'll find out!

Jogiraj Sikidar is a philosopher at heart. He interprets the theory of 'karma', without any ambiguities. He interprets the world as a family and states that the subject of 'karma' becomes real for us if we act out this conception in concurrence with compassion. He sees the world as a single great community in which all of us are related to each other – by the way of our creative reasons, divine reasons, personal reasons.

Money and power are not his favorite aims. How it all came to him is attributed through his great-middle-class values. Jogiraj Sikidar's father was a prominent social worker in Silchar, Assam (India), who found alternative ways of earnings for the poor so effectively that the grand old man became United Nations Award winner for his staunch efforts.

Among other 'sparks' from whom Jogiraj Sikidar derived inspiration – he names Vinod Dua, a veteran Indian journalist, and Padamshree Rita Ganguli who accepted Jogiraj Sikidar as her disciple to train him as a vocalist in Indian Classical music. Under the expert guidance of Rita Ganguli, he learnt the legendary style of Thumri of the late 'Thumri Queens' – Siddeswari Devi and Begum Akhtar.

Quite honestly, Jogiraj Sikidar's odyssey in music began at the age of four in Silchar. He went on to train in guru-parampara (mentor-disciple) tradition of Kirana Gharana under stalwarts like Pandit Mani Prashad and Shikha Ganguli.

38 year old Jogiraj Sikidar – Creative Producer, director, documentary-maker, song-writer, vocalist, choir-conductor, researcher – winner of several media awards – he is all of these and more. He is also the Founder/Director of Malhaar (Dubai) – a drama organization born in 2009. He confirms that the philosophy behind Malhaar is to showcase history, and put the talent of good people together to nurture on stage. In case the reader is wondering about any more credentials of Jogiraj Sikidar, let me say the young man is conscience-bound to provide continuity in whatever he sets out to achieve.

Jogiraj Sikidar's contribution to the development of Indian theatre in Dubai and to the cultural scene in general can be seen as concrete. To look back from the present, Rooh-e-Isq and Jashn-e-Awadh are the outstanding examples of Jogiraj's recent creative efforts in Dubai (U.A.E). And why not? After all, he was selected in Delhi, by National Training Institute of India (NSD) – where the likes of actors such as Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher trained. Rooh-e-Isq is a musical tribute to four Sufi masters across India, Pakistan and Persia. Jashn-e-Awadh, a musical, again, is the journey that takes the audience to the kingdom of Wajid Ali.

I asked Jogiraj how he handled the stories of success. His response to my query was, 'Receiving the love of the audience gave me goose pimples and tears. And the credit of all the success I give to my team of performers and those who assist me'.

As our interview progressed, Jogiraj Sikidar weighed his ideas in balance and said to me, 'You know, in my life a woman was always conducive in pushing me forward. In my earlier years, it was my elder sister, Shrabani. Now hats off to my wife – Mily.' Undoubtedly, it is an engaging thought, he has provided for me. The spirit of his accomplishments stamps the truth behind his remarks.

As this Issue goes online, I have learnt from Jogiraj Sikidar that Malhaar is preparing a musical production, for Dubai, next month (October 2011) by the title – O Ganga: Echoes from the river of life. O Ganga, is not a mythological drama, not a religious convocation, and definitely not an environmental show; it is a journey along the entire course of the river in search of musical notes and the lyrical rhythm that has emerged over time – from its rich banks. Assuming the theme, I am already, on a high peak among the clouds!

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. I think every single day is a turning point in my life. I explore and learn from my experiences and my surroundings.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. Be a traveler so that I could travel as much as possible.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. Set up an institute where music, art, film and food will come together under one roof.

Extended & Enlarged Version of Mr. Jogiraj Sikidar (which appeared in the month of January 2014) – Senior Creative Producer.

Professional Background: Television Media Professional with more than 17 years of experience as Senior Producer spanning television news channels (Zee News, TVI – India's first 24x7 English news channel); non-news channels (National Geographic Channel India, History Channel, India) DTH platform (Showtime, Dubai, U.A.E). Presently, Senior Creative Producer with MBC Group, Dubai, U.A.E.

Q 1. In your view, what is most important in life? Accordingly, name three aspects, important in life.
A. According to me, being a good human being is most important. I feel if one is honest, hardworking and has a positive mindset, everything else falls in place. Maintaining a healthy life is also one of my priorities.

Q 2. If you were not doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?
A. Pursuing Music, Music and Music!

Q 3. What motivates you to achieve your goal?
A. When I look around and find ordinary people achieving extraordinary goals on a daily basis, I feel inspired. People who follow their dreams do not give excuses. That gives me a high.

Q 4. How do you handle stress and pressure?
A. I de-stress by listening to good music and taking lessons from people around me.

Q 5. Which of your qualities would you want to pass down to your child / children?
A. I would like Aadi to emulate a lifestyle in which he gives topmost priority to hard work and kindness; and also keeps a positive mindset and has tremendous passion for good music and any art form.

Q 6. Who is your favorite author? Which book of your favorite author have you enjoyed the best?
A. Rabindranath Tagore, Amir Khusro, Bulleh Shah, Kabir and Ghalib. I feel one can see the life through their poetry and stories. Their work is so timeless and one can relate to them so easily.

Q 7. What are you pursuing currently, by the way of a light hobby, or by the way of a serious goal?
A. For last 2 years I am working on a musical project titled "Draupadi - the daughter of fire". This is the story of an extraordinary woman with an unstoppable spirit. A princess, who lived thousands of years ago, in the legendary land of Bharat, and left behind a timeless tale of passion and power; of dignity and grace; of love and revenge; of vanity and valour.

'Draupadi' is a character that continues to manifest in the lives of the many extraordinary women amongst us and yet, a story without equal.

'Draupadi' still exists in every woman, in every society. She is timeless.

Q 8. In the last 1 year, is your particular goal advancing? Which is that goal/dream?
A. Yes, I am simultaneously working on a few interesting projects. 'Draupadi' is one of them.

In 2014, I am also planning to organize a music festival in Dubai to celebrate my nani Guru, Behum Akhtar's birth centenary year .

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