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Exclusive: Watch Pragnya Wakhlu’s Ode to Tibet, ‘Burning Fire’

The New Delhi singer-songwriter tugs at heartstrings with her comforting acoustic single that highlights the Tibet cause

David Britto Nov 28, 2016
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Pragnya Wakhlu. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Pragnya Wakhlu. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

When New Delhi-based singer-songwriter Pragnya Wakhlu traveled to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh two years ago, she was, like most Indians, unaware about the Tibetan political crisis. But while there, she heard the heart-wrenching story of a lady who fled with her children when China occupied Tibet in 1950 and it moved her. She says, “When I came back to Delhi, I felt I just had to do something about this. I felt that I needed to share with other Indians the story and culture of the Tibetans. There are so many things we don’t know about Tibet and Tibetans, like how they are desperately trying to preserve their language.”

Artwork by Renu Sharma

Artwork by Renu Sharma

“Burning Fire” is Wakhlu’s contribution to the cause. While the soothing acoustic track invokes Tibetan verses (sung by artists she met in New Delhi’s Tibetan colony), the music video gives an insight into the Tibetan life and culture. Shot over 10 days by director Divya Gopalan at Dharamsala earlier this year, it is a chilling reminder of Tibet’s ongoing freedom struggle. In between vibrant shots of the traditional Tibetan opera routine performed by the students of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, the film also shows a wall behind the Dalai Lama’s temple on which are hung several framed photographs of teenagers – young activists who took their own lives, mostly by self-immolation, to protest Chinese atrocities against Tibetans.

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The Tibetan cause has as much to do with opposing violence as demanding freedom of expression. Says Wakhlu, “A lot of the Tibetan singers who try to speak out are shunned or even killed. I wanted to create awareness about this in India. As musicians, if we’re able to spread a message through our music, we should.”

“Burning Fire” was recorded in Mumbai and New Delhi, and will be a part of Wakhlu’s upcoming album on Kashmir, due March next year. Her first album, Journey To The Sun, released in 2012.

Watch “Burning Fire” below:

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