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Reliving the 70s with Kishore Kumar’s voice on his Birth Anniversary

Kishore Kumar, the multitalented artist who still rules Bollywood with his stupefying voice and evergreen songs

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Kishore Kumar

Kishore Kumar, the multitalented Indian legend with a dynamic voice, who gave Bollywood some of the most iconic songs and movies, would have been 93 today. He might not be with us anymore but his songs have kept him alive in the hearts of the millenials and the youth who discover him.  The versatile Bollywood artist was a successful lyricist, composer, actor, singer, screenplay writer and scriptwriter.  His songs have a way of revealing all the concealed emotions.

Kishore Da is still one of the few people to have crushed the vanity of the phrase “generation gap.” Some of his songs that still make us groove are “Khaike Paan Banaraswala” “Pal Pal Dil Ke Pas” “Ek Ladki Bhaeegi Bhaagi Si” “Ye Shaam Mastani” “Roop Tera Mastana” and many more. His voice expressed compassion without losing his masculinity.

Kumar was famous for his eccentricities which included driving off to Mussoorie after seeing masoor dal on the street side and putting up a signboard saying ‘Beware of Kishore’ on the door of his Warden Road flat.

Early Life and Career

Abhas Kumar Ganguly was born in a simple family in Khandwa, Central Province, Madhya Pradesh. He changed his name to “Kishore Kumar” and started his career singing in Bombay Talkies. Kumar’s career gradually escalated when he was offered to sing “Marne ki Duaye Kyon Mangu” for the film Ziddi (1948) by music director Khemchand Prakash. In the 1950s, he was at his wildest, travelling between studios and working numerous shifts as a part-comedian, part-hero in movies that would be successful at the box office but were largely overlooked by reviewers as being of little importance. Kishore Kumar eventually tasted success and fame in the 1970s after battling for two years. 

Step into Filmmaking

Additionally, he experimented with filmmaking and produces some of the most intriguing movies in hindi cinema. He paid homage to his debut Hindi film “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” (1958) with the sequel “Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi” (1974). The 1960s reversed the tables when his movies started failing and the comic inside him was no longer saleable. The only option left was to return to his first love — singing. His career was relaunched when he became the voice of Guide (1965) and from Teen Deviyan (1965), he was back on track. And in 1969, Aradhana happened which became the most iconic work of his life. The elusive hit “ Mere Sapno ki Rani” became the early 1970s bike-riding anthem.

After major hits like Aradhana (1969), Do Raaste (1969), Khamoshi (1969), Safar (1970), Kati Patang (1970), Amar Prem (1971), Haathi mere Saathi (1971), Dushman (1971), Apna Desh (1972) he was coined as “superstar.” 

Kishore Kumar was undoubtedly an Indian phenomenon who enchanted the audiences with his bewitching voice and wonderful lyrics. His comedy has always made us fall about the place. He was a Bollywood icon who will always be remembered and adored by us. 

Credits: YouTube (Bollywood Classics)
Credits: YouTube (YRF)

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Editor's Pick

The Echoes Of The Marathi Poet: Bal Sitaram Mardhekar

B. S. Mardhekar led an unruly life when it came to his dreams. However, with poetry and writing, he set his own path which would be remembered for years to come.

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BS Mardhekar, Marathi Poet

Bal Sitaram Mardhekar, or better known as B. S. Mardhekar was an exceptional Marathi writer whose innovations in the Marathi literary scene engraved his name as a prolific writer in literature forever. He founded a new style of poetry in Marathi which radicalized the very sensibilities of the Marathi poetry. Apart from poetry, Mardhekar also penned opera type short plays and novels which introduced the stream of consciousness in the Marathi linguistic space.

A thinker in literary aesthetics, B. S. Mardhekar introduced an avant-garde style poetry which sent waves of wonderment and interest in the Marathi literary world. On his 113th birth anniversary, here’s a closer look at his life and works.

Early Life

Bal Sitaram Mardhekar was born on December 1st, 1909 in Faizapur in Khandesh region of Maharashtra. His father was a primary school teacher but later retired as a deputy officer. His family came from a religious background, and the worshipping of Purushottam Ram was the family tradition. Mardhekar’s father, Sitarampant was very interested in philosophy and literature.

Mardhekar owes his primary education to his father’s friend, Shri Phadake. In highschool, Mardhekar grew up as an introvert and a bookworm. One would rarely see him out playing in the fields. He got his B.A. Degree from Bombay University in 1928. After failing to complete his M. A. education because of some practical difficulties, B. S. Mardhekar went to England for an I.C.S. qualification. However, yet again, this dream of his too shattered. After four years, he returned back to his home country. The four years in Europe gave Mardhekar first hand experiences of war, technology, culture, and the arts and aesthetics.

Bal Sitaram Mardhekar And His Steps Into Marathi Literature

Although Mardhekar wanted to be a professor, his lack of educational qualifications hindered at this occupational prospect. Eventually he got employed at All India Radio where he worked till his death. Mardhekar initiated a number of new programmes in All India Radio, which highlighted his own personal interests and likes. For instance, reading of poetry by the poets themselves, broadcasting of short plays and reading of famous novels.

Mardhekar’s intellect and a penchant for the creative imagination made him embrace it through writing and theorising literary criticism and literary aesthetics. He began his literary work with his anthology, Shishiragam published in 1939. Other of his major poetic works has been Kahi Kavita (1947) and Anakhi Kahi Kavita (1951). His poems had an echo of both the influences of the west and the native voice. Moreover, he also experimented with the stream of consciousness his poems.

In Shishiragam, the poet has penned an emotional journey of insignificant satisfactions and palpable agonies of a lover’s frustrations. Meanwhile, in Kahi Kavita, the personal dilemmas are questioned in a social paradigm. In it, he also introduced a corrupted urban ethos in his poems, which was a first in the Marathi Literature. On the other hand, Anakhi Kahi Kavita is more on the philosophical quest side. Here is one of the poet’s much read translated poems:

This Is The Order

This is the order
Of a dark world :
A wick of soot
In the heart of darkness.

A black ‘plane
Zooms into darkness
Through black air.

There are no signals
Not red, nor green;
One cannot get lost
In the invisible.

Wherever I go
I am my own partner :
My eyes have turned
Into such walls.

Apart from poems, Mardhekar also penned a play titled, Natashreshta (1944) and the novels Ratricha Divas (1942), Tambadi Mati (1943) and Pani (1948).

In 1956, Bal Sitaram Mardhekar was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work ‘Saundarya ani Sahitya (A study of aesthetics)’, the same year he breathed his last breath. The poet died at the age of 47.

Credits: YouTube (Spruha Joshi)
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Throwback Thursday: The King Of Novels, Rajanikanta Bordoloi

Rajanikanta Bordoloi is an Assamese novelist whose contribution to literature has been immense. Here’s a closer look into his life and works.

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Rajanikanta Bordoloi, Assamese writer

Rajanikanta Bordoloi was an Assamese writer, novelist and journalist whose contribution to Assamese literature is immense. The writer is hailed with many revered titles like, ‘Upanyash Samrat (The King of Novels)’, ‘Pioneer of Romanticism in Assamese Literature‘ and the ‘Walter Scott of Assam’. The publication of his debut tribal novel, ‘Miri Jiyori’, placed him as one of the greatest novelists of Assam, and laid down the steps to his respectable stature for years to come. On his 155th birth anniversary, let’s dive into the phenomenal works of Rajanikanta Bordoloi.

Early Life

Rajanikanta was born on November 24th in the year 1867. He did his graduation from Calcutta University. During this time, Rajanikanta was actively associated with Asamiya Bhasa Unnati Sadhini Sabha. The organisation’s prime objective was the development of Assamese language and literature.

After his studies, he returned to Assam and joined government services. While working for the government, Sir Edward Gait assigned him with the task of collecting historical and ethnographic materials for his new book ‘Assam’. This task pushed Bordoloi to a novel writing, and he released his debut novel, ‘Miri Jiyori’ in the year 1894. 6 years later, in 1900, his second novel, ‘Manomoti’ came out.

Works of Rajanikanta Bordoloi

Throughout his life, Rajanikanta wrote nine novels: Rongalo (1925), Nirmal Bhakat (1926), Rohdoi Ligiri (1930), Tamleshwari Mandir (1926), Donduadruh (1929), Radha Rukminir Ron (1925), Thamba Thambi’r Sadhu (1932), including Miri Jiyori and Manomati.

Most of Rajanikanta’s novels were inspired and based on the ancient historical events of Assam. For instance, Manomati narrates the events following a group of people trapped between the retreating Ahom forces and the advancing Burmese army. In his novel, Nirmal Bhakat, Bordoloi has spun the story around the socio-political conditions of Assam, the Ahom dynasty and the Vasihnav religion. The novel portrays the time from the coronation of Chandra Kanta Sinha to the British domination of Assam. The historical consciousness in Bordoloi’s novels has granted him the titles of ‘Father of Assamese Novels’, ‘Scot of Assamese Literature’, and ‘Assam Bankim Chandra’.

Except for the novels ‘Miri Jiyori’, which narrates a tragic story of a pair of a boy and girl, and ‘Thumbair Sadhu’, the rest of his novels are written with a historical viewpoint.

Apart from writing novels and stories, Bordoloi was also a journalist. He wrote for many leading magazines like Junaki, Usha, Assam Hitoishi, Bahi and Abahon. He was also the editor of a monthly Assamese magazine called Pradipika.

The novelist breathed his last on March 25, 1939 in Guwahati, Assam.

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Celebrating The Sitar and Surbahar Icon: Ustad Imrat Khan

Remembering the sitar and surbahar instrumentalist, Ustad Imrat Khan, and his passionate contribution to Indian classical music.

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Ustad Imrat Khan, Imrat Khan, Sitarist Sitar, Musician, Legend

Ustad Imrat Khan is a prominent figure in the Indian classical music field. It was his dedication and passion for music, especially for the surbahar, which saved the instrument from fading away from the musical sphere. 

As many know, Imrat Khan belonged to the surbahar playing tradition of the five-generation-old Imdadkhani Gharana, of which was his grandfather, Imdad Khan, a master in both sitar and surbahar and his well celebrated elder brother, Ustad Vilayat Khan. In fact, it is the Imdadkhani Gharana, who is credited with inventing the musical instrument, surbahar, which is also sometimes called the “bass sitar”

On his 87th birth anniversary, let’s dive into the influence of the instrumentalist in music in not only India but also abroad. 

Early Life 

Begum Inayat Khan, the wife of late Ustad Khan, was keen on continuing the legacy of his husband. Her two sons were to carry his legacy forward. Therefore, from an early age, Inayat encouraged her sons to learn only the surbahar. Imrat’s uncle, Ustad Wahid Khan, trained him in surbahar. Unfortunately, Imrat was only 3 when his father passed away. Therefore, along with his uncle, he was also trained by his maternal grandfather, Ustad Bande Hasan Khan and brother Ustad Vilayat Khan. 

It is believed that members of the Imdadkhani Gharana are trained extensively in both sitar and surbahar, regardless of the instrument they eventually choose to play full time. 

The Musical Genius In Imrat Khan

In the early years, both brothers Imrat Khan and Vilayat Khan used to present their music as a jugalbandi. The duo performed together, with Vilayat on the sitar and Imrat playing the more difficult surbahar. The brothers’ creativity and virtuosity blended well together and produced immaculate recordings. Some of these immortal recordings are ‘Night at the Taj’ and ‘Mian Malhar.’ In these duo performances, Imrat Khan’s meticulousness and artistry were ever-visible.

Imrat Khan is most famously known for his ‘gayaki’ style of playing. Along with this, he also played unusual raags, two of which were popular were Kalavati and Abhogi Kanhra. These ragas distinguished him from Vilayat Khan and carved a separate musical identity of his. He was also a composer, and had worked closely with Satyajit for the 1958 ‘Jalsagar’.

In 1970, Imrat toured the world and performed at the Cannes Film Festival, exposing the surbahar in the west as well. Following that, Imrat started teaching in the west. He moved to the U.K. where he taught at the Dartington College of the Arts. In the mid-1970s, he moved to Europe, where he taught at the Central Academy of the Arts, Berlin. In the 80s, he was teaching at Washington University, St Louis in the U.S.

Awards and Achievements

Imrat Khan was awarded the prestigious Sangeet Natak award in 1988. In 2017, he was recognised as a recipient of the Padma Shri. However, Imrat declined the award, stating that it was too late for this recognition. The Ustad was deeply disappointed with the non-acknowledgment of his contribution to the Indian music by the government. His students and juniors were receiving the accolade, but not him. By the time it was awarded to him, Ustad had decided that he’d decline the award as an issue of propriety than self-aggrandisement.

Nevertheless, Imrat Khan was an enigma of Indian music and its culture. He kept the surbahar alive, with his unusual and deeply creative ragas. The instrumentalist even rejected fusion concerts and productions saying that there was enough to explore in Indian music. On November 23, 2018, the musician breathed his last at the age of 83. He had a stroke after being ill for several months.

Credits: YouTube (Ustad Imrat Khan – Topic)
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Throwback Thursday: The Classic Of Bollywood, Prithviraj Kapoor

Prithviraj Kapoor is an icon in the Bollywood industry and the Hindi cinemas. Here’s a tribute to the legend on his 116th birth anniversary.

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Prithviraj Kapoor, Throwback Thursday

In the pre-independent and pre-partitioned India, cinema and movies were not at their highest pace. During that time of a building up of the movie industry, rose a gem who pioneered the Indian theatre and birthed one of the first family of India films: The Kapoor Family. Prithviraj Kapoor probably didn’t see coming the bulk of influence he’d have over acting and entertainment industry in India. He is considered as one of the founding figures of Hindi cinemas.

The Kapoor family has been in the show business for more than 90 years now. The generational family has produced exceptional actors, producers, and directors. On Prithviraj Kapoor’s 116th birth anniversary, here’s a look into his life and how he came to sow the seeds to Bollywood and Hindi theatre.

Early Life

Prithviraj Kapoor was the son of the sub-inspector in the police from the then Punjab in the British India. He belonged to a middle-class Hindu Punjabi Khatri family in Samundri, near the town of Lyallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan). He finished his formal education from Khalsa College in Lyallpur and Lahore and graduated from the Edwardes College in Peshawar. Later, he applied for a one-year program in law to become a lawyer, even though his deepest desires were aiming towards acting. In fact, he used to perform theatre in Lyallpur and Peshawar. Eventually, he gave into his desires, and borrowed some money from his aunt. The money got him to land in the city of dreams, Bombay (now Mumbai).

The Acting Career: Theatre And Bollywood

Bombay gave Prithviraj his long awaited taste of the film industry. He didn’t immediately make it big into the cinemas. A lot of hard work, patience, and determination were regularly poured in before Prithviraj became a classic known face of the Bollywood. His debut character was an extra in the film. In his third film, ‘Cinema Girl’ in 1929, he played the lead role. Till 1931, movies were silent, which meant they had no sound. With the release of ‘Alam Ara’ in 1931, the first ever sound/talking, Bollywood saw a huge historical transformation, and Prithviraj was a part of this history, although the movie didn’t do well. Some of his much loved character appearances were in the movies “Rajrani Meera”, “Seeta”, “Manzil”, “President”, “Vidyapati”, “Pagal”, and “Sikandar”. However, with movies like “Mughal E Azam”, “Harishchandra Taramati”, “Sikandar-e-Azam”, and “Kal Aaj Aur Kal”, Prithviraj left an unforgettable legacy behind.

Apart from the screen, Prithviraj was also a player on the stage. Theatre, after all, paved the way for his interest and success in Bollywood, and it continued to stay his first love. He even founded his own theatre group by the name, Prithvi Theatre in 1944. The theatre performed close to more than a thousand shows, but with a growing disinterest in theatre and increasing fascination with on-screen movies, the group dwindled, and eventually closed down.

Later Life

Prithviraj was married very young at the age of 18, while his wife, Ramsarni Mehra, was 15-years-old at that time. Both of their first and second born passed away, and after that, the couple had four more children, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor and Urmila Sial Kapoor, of which the brother trio made a big face in the Bollywood. This started the generational Kapoor family, who for five generations has kept up the Hindi cinema tradition. They’re famously also known as the first family of the Hindi Cinema. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren like Rishi Kapoor, Rajiv Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, and Ranbir Kapoor, etc. have showed prominent success in Bollywood.

Prithviraj and his wife passed away just 14 days apart from each other. Both of them were suffering from Cancer. Prithviraj Kapoor breathed his last 29 May 1972. After his death, Prithviraj received the highest accolade in Indian cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

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Against Silence: The Oral Tradition of Kashmir

Learn the roots of the oral tradition in Kashmir and why it holds such a deep symbolic significance for Kashmiris.

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Oral Traditions of Kashmir

The thing about documentation is that it is privy to destruction. History, records, stories—their preservation is abundant in all societies, but in all societies there are running powers of manipulation as such that the narrative carried in them is blurred from wrong to right, truth to lies, and the reality is all but lost. It is here then that the importance of oral tales is recognised the most. Like a thread passed down from generation to generation, they bind people together and protect their truths. Because the things embedded in oral traditions—from language to the stories they tell, from memory to history—nurture connections within communities, affirming their identities against a backdrop of evolving social realities.

This realisation became the very essence of the conversation I had with a friend, Aiman. She grew up and lives in Kashmir, who too has listened to and relied on stories for purposes that have gone beyond the norm of entertainment alone. In Kashmir, this tradition called luk kath, the people’s talk, Aiman says, is as lively as ever, a breathing, relatable entity within which there’s a space to find belongingness. A token of remembrance that she, like many others, can cling to so as to never feel lost in their own home.

The Oral Tales Of Kashmir: Stories, Folk Ballads And More

Aftaab and Zoon, the sun and the moon; the mountains and rivers have all been part of the oral tales in
Kashmir, giving life to them and, in turn, rooting them to the things of the land. Like the legend of Nagrai and Heemal, which Aiman narrated for me in bits and pieces, a folk ballad with little similarity to Shakespearan Romeo and Juliet, or Laila Majnu. This tragic love story of the Serpent King, Nagrai and Princess Heemal, finds memorabilia in a river spring in a small park near the town Shopian. The tale used to be one of the many stories that comprised Aiman’s childhood, fond memories of chilly winter nights, where she would huddle together with her family and listen to her elders narrating the stories they too must have been similarly told.

These stories, like those made-up for children, come with a lot of animal imagery, ghosts and demons, scary wolf-like creatures called bram bram chok or wan mohniyu, a powerful, hairy human-like creature with long nails who is said to wander in forests. Female figures of witches, or daens, too are abundant, one of the kind being Rantas, a seductress witch with her feet turned backwards, known to eat the hearts of men. Of course, like all old things, they too have some problematic tropes running, misogyny and patriarchy being the one of many.

While there are also tales meant to teach obedience, and some others, morality. But like all interesting things, these folktales have served the primary purpose of nourishing imagination, the reason which perhaps for Aiman too fuelled her later fascination and reliance on literature—the lucky instance of interest that led to us becoming acquaintances in the first place. But there’s more to it, there’s also curiosity. In the narration of these stories, she found the space to learn the habit of questioning, the what and why of the way things are. She expressed how these questions, in time, became more important than they really seem, because learning to ask questions, of why did it happen and why is it happening, became specifically relevant to the social and political developments surrounding Kashmiris.

Dapaan: The Significance Of The Oral Tradition

Dapaan is the word for ‘it is said’ or ‘they say’ in Kashmiri, an expression with which all stories are begun, for myths or legends which have no identifiable source. In the present situations of constant uncertainties in the state fuelled by government regulated informational blockade, the word that invoked the idea of fiction has also taken a new form. Dapaan as a harbinger of fearful events and anxieties, plays its part, as news and rumours, said and heard beginning with the word ‘dapaan’, make their way into everyday lives.

In telling me stories from her childhood and those she heard in those days, Aiman stressed how for her, her home has always been the paradise on earth. Memories of the stories, for instance, cannot forget the contexts in which they were told. There are some stories that impress a metaphor for occupied Kashmir, like that of the man who travels on a donkey while carrying all the load on his own head. He does so to not burden the animal he is travelling on, but in his ignorance doesn’t realise how the weight is ultimately being put on the donkey while the man assumes he is being kind to the animal by keeping the load on himself. These little things of everyday life then become an expression that absorbs and speaks of the nature of things. In the same vein also run proverbs, like Garah wandai gara sasah, garah neraha ne zah, (‘O home, I would sacrifice a thousand houses on you and will never leave you’) or asav ne, te lasav kith paeth (‘How will we live, if we don’t laugh’). The connectedness drawn from these pieces of oral culture are owed to the way they have been passed through generations, where that which everybody has heard comes to hold the value of truth. It has stood the grounds of time, and so it comes to stand against erasure.

Bhand Pather And Ladi Shah: Other Forms Of Oral Tradition

And outside this household of folk stories, there lie other oral traditions which have played similar roles, like that of Bhand Pather and of Ladi Shah. Bhand Pather, which is now a declining art form of folk theatre, is based on satirical drama drawn from mythologies and social realities. The unwritten scripts of these dramas have been passed on in families, where their performances invoke cultural roots often infused with political commentaries and humour. Bhand Pather is a very old tradition of drama but has served newer purposes of educating and informing masses, spreading awareness of the many issues that people did not have an easy access to talk or know about. And so, the political representation made its way into folklore not directly, but through subtleness, wit, and sarcasm. In that what they did, and this is what Aiman believes, is not just help in shaping opinions of the people but also strengthening them, where the problems concerning entire communities could find a space to be conveyed and shared.

Another form bridging the accessibility of information like Bhand Pather is Ladi Shah, the Kashmiri song ballads full of melody and humour. The performer, also called the ladi shah, comes with an instrument called dhukar, singing songs that communicate and comment on socio-political matters of day-to-day life. It was only fairly recently that Kashmir got its first female ladi shah in fact, twenty-five year old Syed Areej Safvi. The oral culture, therefore, is still evolving into relatable entities; where people like herself, Aiman suggests, are also finding their own responsibility to know more about it and to carry it forward. This remembrance and recognition, through multiple traditions like Bhand Pather and Ladi Shah, are their own history, a way to protect their roots.

Aiman’s own understanding over the importance of folk stories has been this alone, also the reason she was willing to share it with me. Attempts at surviving and preserving the aspects of their culture are an important part of the community. Stories, the oral tradition of Kashmir and culture surrounding them come to form a language of their own in all societies like this then, with their own depths and necessity.

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Folk dance
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Laali
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Contemporary art
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Pride Books
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Pride In Stories: 10 LGBTQ+ Books by Indian Authors

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Amrit Mahotsav
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Dance
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Mumbai Mood: The Quintessential Short Film on the City’s Energy and Spirit

Music Covers
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Illustrations
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Ami Mishra, Mohammed Rafi, Ehsaan Tera, Unplugged Cover, Anchal Singh
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Plus Minus, Baba Harbajan Singh, Bhuvan Bam, Divya Dutta, Sikhya Entertainment
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Bhuvan Bam, Safar, Single, Original, Bhuvan Bam Safar, Artist, BB Ki Vines
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Navaldeep Singh, The Red Typewriter, Short Film, Love Story, Touching Story
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Dilbaro, Saloni Rai, Cover, Raazi, Alia Bhatt
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Meri Maa, Musical, Short Film, Tarannum Mallik, Abhinay, Mother's Day
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Tribute to Avicii, Indian Dancers, Avicii, Amit K Samania, Prakrati Kushwaha
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Dum Dum Dumroo, Sanaya Irani, Anil Charanjeett, Akash Goila
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Manpreet Toor's Laung Laachi
Dance5 years ago

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Semal
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Mashup of ‘Treat You Better’ & ‘Mann Bharrya’ in Melodious Voice of Semal and Bharti

Aksh Baghla
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Dil Diyan Gallan in Euphonious Voice of Akash Baghla

Ankit Kholia
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Sang Hoon Tere
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Aranya Johar
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Music5 years ago

Acoustic Version of Tere Mere Song by Dhvani Bhanushali

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Tere Jaisa Yaar Kahan : A Tale of Two Best Friends

Music5 years ago

“Naino Se”: An Orginal Composition by Pushpendra Barman

Tere Mere by Saloni Rai
Music5 years ago

‘Tere Mere’ Female Cover by a Young Singer from Haryana, Saloni Rai

Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar
Editor's Pick5 years ago

Don’t Judge People on Skin Colour, Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar

Knox Artiste
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