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Gig Review :: Papon and The East India Company :: Blue Frog Mumbai, Jan 12

A spellbinding live performance by Papon, The East India Company and numerous special guests to launch his new album.


Papon’ Angaraag Mahanta (son of notable Assamese folk duo, Khagen and Archana Mahanta) is a musician that needs no introduction today, but we insist anyway. Hailing from Assam (from whence came Bhupen Hazarika, another musical heavy-weight), Papon’s roots may lie in traditional and folk music, but his music is not limited to any one genre.

Having played and performed with such acts as the Midival Punditz, Karsh Kale, Shubha Mudgal, Rabbi Shergil, Kailash Kher, Agnee and numerous others, he is quite the genre-bender; Papon and The East India Company’s music traverses across folk, rock (metal even, at times), electronica, new age, jazz and classical. Why, even Bollywood felt the need to poach him for a few soundtracks.

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So now that you know what the whole band is capable of, let us tell you about what we saw. First off, The Score team has been following then ever since we first saw them perform at The Octoberfest in Bangalore as well as NH7 Weekender in Pune, last November, where they stunned us with their fantastic fusion of Bihu and Bangla tunes with modern rock elements – Deepu’s daunting bass lines and Krishna’s artful usage of the wah-wah pedals on lead guitar left many of us wanting for more.

As if to evoke the same memories, they played for us some of the same songs at Blue Frog, except that in such an intimate setting, they sounded even better! “Boitha Maro Re” was much loved by everyone present.

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And to add to it, they even simulated lightnings and heavy rainfall sounds, almost as if to bring to Blue Frog a little part of the hilly and riverine wonderland that is Assam.

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Papon is not one to hog the limelight all by himself. He beckoned to numerous numerous friends and collaborators within the audience – Ankur Tewari, for instance – and even called on stage various other artists – Ashwin Srinivasan on flute and Darshan Doshi on drums, while cracking jokes about how it’s all about “Kolaboration, di!”

Other jokes revolved around advocating Johnnie Walker instead of 100 Pipers (the sponsors for that event) and his own inabilities to converse in Hindi (which is absolutely untrue). One of the highlights of that night’s performance was a live jam between Papon, The East India Company, Agnee and Shilpa Rao.

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Fans had flocked to Blue Frog from far and wide – beyond regional borders that is, including a German musician and friend of Papon’s, who felt more at home dancing along to Bihu tunes. The Assamese fans were probably the most raucous – in a good way though, as they yelled out their requests time and again. Papon made another joke about how his voice was hoarse and he sounded like a frog (get it?).

But, ever the good sport, he continued on with so much energy that they played an encore set not once, not twice, but thrice… well beyond the predecided time limit. Though they started off half an hour later than schedule, they ended up playing for almost an hour after they were supposed to stop. They completed their set with the unforgettable “Banao Banao,” providing everyone who attended a great bargain.

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Suffice it to say that Papon and The East India Company are phenomenal, and sound nothing less than spectacular live. But for those who missed out, they can always go buy his new album – “The Story So Far”, which will be in stores soon! We will be reviewing it in the next edition of The Score Magazine as well, just for you!

Catch Papon and The East India Company along with numerous others at the Sula Fest in Nasik, Feb 4th!

Special Thanks: Aditi and Zain @ Blue Frog

Photo Credits: Parizad D.

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