Boycott the GiMA Awards, says music producer Shantanu Hudlikar
Lahore-based guitarist Mekaal Hasan’s collaborative album Andholan featuring Indian and Pakistani artists gets disqualified from the annual awards show organized by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd, causing an upset in the Indian music scene
It’s not enough that Sufi rock group Mekaal Hasan Band faced stiff opposition from right-wing political party Shiv Sena early last year when they announced their Indo-Pakistani collaborative album Andholan. Just over a week after the Global Indian Music Award [GiMA] announced their nominations for 2015, the committee has disqualified the album Andholan by the sufi rock group Mekaal Hasan’s Band. Lahore-based guitarist and producer Hasan spoke to Pakistan newspaper Dawn, saying, “It is very disappointing and honestly speaking, we didn’t ask for a nomination in the first place and given that they deemed us worthy enough to be nominated, disqualifying now doesn’t really make sense to me. The album was not recorded solely in Pakistan, rather half of the work was done in India.”
Organizers of GiMA, Mumbai-based event management agency Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd, have now made it clear that “the GiMA Awards, as presented by the Academy, are for Indian artistes.” Adds Wizcraft founder and director Sabbas Joseph, “The Mekaal Hasan Band is both led and named after an artiste of foreign nationality. On realizing this, the auditors have ruled that the entry is disqualified.”
Andholan, which was nominated in the Best Rock Album category, comprises eight tracks mastered by Hasan and fuses traditional Indian and Pakistani classical compositions with rock. The album, which features Hindustani classical vocalist Sarmishtha Chatterjee, jazz drummer Gino Banks from Mumbai, bassist Sheldon D’Silva, also from Mumbai and Hasan’s bandmate, flautist Ahsan Papu from Pakistan, was released in India in September 2014 and independently in Pakistan in December. Says bassist D’Silva, “We have not been given the exact reason as to why the band has been disqualified. The only reason given is that it has been disqualified based on its origin. Now, this to me is very vague and unclear and makes no sense whatsoever.” The bassist adds that majority of the collaborative album was written and recorded in India. “Also the album is released through Times Music, which is a global [worldwide] Indian label, if I’m not mistaken.”
Other members of the Indian music industry have also slammed GiMA for dropping Andholan from the nominees list. On his Facebook page, producer Shantanu Hudlikar, who has produced albums for several bands including fusion group Advaita from Delhi, urged the music industry to boycott the awards. Hudlikar’s social media rebuking has received support from several musicians including electro rock band Pentagram’s frontman Vishal Dadlani. Hudlikar said in his post, “I don’t know why this [disqualification of Mekaal Hasan Band] happened but it is very unfortunate. Whatever the reason might have been, the authorities at GiMA are absolutely spineless… Don’t tell me they didn’t know that Mekaal was a Pakistani artist. To suddenly decide that Mekaal should not be part of the award if he wins and hence does not qualify because he is not Indian…. well, they should have known of that in the first place. It sounds to me like a religion bias of sorts. Why were they even nominated in the first place? And if they have retracted the nomination, they [GiMA authorities] should have the balls to stand up and talk about it.”
At this point, artists have begun doubting the sanctity of GiMA. Says D’Silva, “In the past GiMA has recognized collaborations between artists from Pakistan, so what makes this collaboration different beats me. Also GIMA has awarded artists that have originated from the US, UK and more, with some Indian connection or albums that have been recorded, mixed and mastered abroad.” “This stage is supposed to be about the recognition of music talent across the globe, solely based on a fair judgment of the music content without the inclusion of politics. This is clearly not what’s happening here.” While D’Silva did not wish to name any artists, vocalist Shafqat Amanat Ali has been nominated for a GiMA award in 2011, while pop duo Soch are nominated this year for Best Music Director, both for Bollywood songs. The GiMA awards takes place on February 24th in Mumbai.