Chak De

Our first video story on feature is, “Chak De”, a film produced and directed by Gurjeevaan Singh who is studying Film BA (Hons) at the Puttnam School of Film and Animation in LASALLE College of the Arts. The film was done as part of his first year group project which requires students to produce 2 observational documentaries in pairs.

Gurjeevaan chose Rajay for his film as he was interested in learning more about how Rajay juggles his passion for the various art forms with work and family. It took about 5 days to film the various scenes and a further 2 weeks to edit the documentary.

For observational documentaries, Gurjeevaan had to follow Rajay as he went about his day rather than prescribing to Rajay certain things to do. Intead of meticulous planning to get the action in frame, Gurjeevaan had to be alert and capture as much as he could on the go!

When asked how he felt watching the dholis from SMU that Rajay coached, Gurjeevaan shared that at first, he was not sure if they would be able to pull of an authentic “punjabi sound”. But after hearing them, he was amazed and could feel the “punjabiness” during the performance. It was a credit to Rajay’s coaching to teach an art and transcend cultures!

As he was editing the film, Gurjeevaan tried different sequences to tell the story and eventually settled on starting the film with scenes from the family home to set the tone of how Rajay prioritises family and still makes time for his passions.

At the end of the project, Gurjeevaan felt that if he had more time, he would have wanted to do a longer piece to really describe the variety and depth of experience that Rajay goes through in his pursuits. He also learnt more about the art form of pyrography, something he had never knew existed!

On why he titled the short film, “Chak De”, Gurjeevaan shared, “Rajay naturally has the aura for teaching / playing the dhol and spreads positive energy to anyone around him. Each time I see him, I feel like saying ‘ਚੱਕ ਦੇ’, and saying that, makes me in a good mood as well!”

Get a glimpse into Rajay’s life in Gurjeevaan’s video below and check out the article done previously on Rajay’s journey: Engineer by Day, Lightning Inferno by Night!

This … is just play

Our community sure is bursting with talent, with another poetry publication, this time by Hardesh Singh!

 With 40 poems in his first poetry publication, Hardesh shares life lessons and the lost wisdom from our childhood that remind us to stay connected as we journey through adulthood and the challenges that come with it.

We had the chance to ask him some questions about his passion and are excited to share his story with our readers.

How did your interest in poetry begin?
My interest in poetry was first piqued when, as a child, I came across a series of poems by Rumi. The different worlds that he created with his poetry and the ideas, emotions and wisdom took my heart away. Sufi poetry has a certain spirit of innocence and bare honesty about life, what we are and how we are. I began writing soon after, inspired as I was by my love for his poetry. What I learnt soon after was that the beauty of poetry is in the way that it suggests but does not tell you what to think; you get to take from it what you will each and every single time you return to it.

Do you have any favourite poets or poems by others?
Yes, a few of my favourites include Pablo Neruda, Omar Khayyam, Jami and of course Rumi. I have to also mention my favourite author: Orhan Pamuk, who writes captivating novels.

Do you practice writing poetry often or do the poems come to you naturally?
Honestly, it’s a little bit of both. You have to practice constantly if you hope to write anything worthwhile, although this is easier said than done. Inspiration, for better or worse, is a muscle that needs to be trained; and a large part of writing involves learning to listen and to observe, and to be taken by the world around you.

Do you worry about the “rules” of poetry while writing your own?
I try to but I think my desire to be authentic with whatever it is I seek to express is what guides me. I always know when I have written something good and worthwhile because it feels true to whatever it is I hope to express.

Do we need to be fantastic at English to write poetry?
I don’t think anyone is really fantastic in English or any language for that matter and that’s not really the point: it’s not so much about adhering to rules and structure as it is about conveying an emotion or idea authentically.

What motivated you to publish?
I did it mostly as a desire to want to share my work with others. It was also important to create something of my own that I could put out there and share with the world. Of course, you are always conscious about how your work will be received and what people might think of it – but when it comes to art, there is no one correct interpretation and you have to be open and willing to let your work be taken by the world as it is and in the way that people choose to – which is a lot like how we should embrace our relationship with the world around us.

You dedicated the book to your mother and brother. How did they influence you so strongly for you to dedicate your first book to them?
A large part of who and what we are in life is a result of our relationships with our loved ones. I obviously owe everything in this life to my mother; and as for my brother, the themes of innocence and childlike wonder at the world and life reflect our relationship as brothers, the common aspects of our personalities and the manner in which we were raised by our mother.

Why do you think play is so important and how can it serve us in our adult lives?
We tend to get caught up in the business of life and oftentimes we become cynical and jaded. So it was an exercise in introspection for me to examine and contrast the way I view life today and how I did so as a child. In this book, I have tried to reflect the need to not get so caught up with life, or with the need to grow up and carve a narrow interpretation of our experience here. A child sees wonder and possibilities in everything and everyone and we can retrieve that innocence and curiosity for ourselves if we simply learn to just play as we once did.

Were the poems arranged in a chronological order of when you wrote them or in a thematic fashion? How did you structure the poems in this collection?
I tried but soon gave up all attempts at presenting my poems in any coherent structure. Instead, I wanted readers to find each poem ‘fresh’, separate and distinct from the ideas and emotions that were evoked in the ones that preceded it.

Many poems revolve around the material and other forms of attachments we have to things, feelings and thoughts. Was there a particular turning point for you to let these go?
I’m not sure we ever truly let go of our experiences in life. Instead, it’s less about letting go and more about accepting that these events and experiences have shaped us in some way and brought us to where we are today. Our very identities are shaped by our relationships with people, places, objects, ideas and emotions. These relationships are stories that will go on to shape the large one that we continue to tell with each passing day of our lives.

Poem 10 has a really strong message in such succinct form. Was the inspiration for this poem from a specific event you encountered?
In this poem, I was actually making a reference to myself. I was part of a charity initiative in Sri Lanka and while at a school to donate books and other items, I found myself surrounded by a whole bunch of ecstatic children, wide-eyed and curious about these strangers before them. They wanted to reach out and make friends and to simply indulge in innocent games as kids do. The fact that I found myself so hesitant, unsure and trapped as it were, unable and unsure of how to reciprocate, of how to play simple games, and laugh for no real reason made me question myself. What does it say of me as a person if I found it so difficult to simply reach out and share in laughter and play with children? And I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us have experienced something similar in our lives with our own families, friends and strangers.

Can we look forward to more poetry books?
Yes, although I am presently working on my first novel – so stay tuned!

What kind of feedback have you received so far?
I’m very grateful that people responded the way they did to it despite me making very little effort to market or publicize it. It’s encouraging to see that people took from it what I had hoped they would.

What advice would you give to others who have yet to try writing poems?
Just start! There’s no right way to begin and you’re never ever going to be ready enough. You might just surprise yourself and it will always be a work in progress even if you end up as a best-selling author someday.

What advice would you have to those who are afraid of publishing their work?
Start right now – there’s never a better time. Aim to create a gift for the world around you by sharing a little of your life and experiences. That is always enough.

To purchase “This…is just play” by Hardesh Singh, visit Amazon.com.

Stellastory

For over a decade, Narpal Singh was the frontman of Stellastory, a rock band that never failed to get the audience up on their feet. Formed in early 2007, Stellastory started off as a 6-piece band and have evolved over the years to its last 4-man lineup of Narpal on vocals, Silas on Guitar/Keys, Jiawei on Bass and Aaron on Drums.

Picture taken from Stellastory’s facebook page.

Cited by them as one of their most memorable gigs, Stellatsory’s performance at Tampines JC’s Song Fest in 2007 surely would make anyone sit up and notice the outstanding vocals and powerful band presence on stage! Check out their 2007 performance of Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin on a Prayer’ at TPJC, another performance in 2007 at Marriot, and their 2008 performance at Anglo-Chinese JC’s talent show!

Stellastory’s musical influences came from bands like Guns & Roses, AC/DC, X Japan, Rush, Bon Jovi and even Michael Jackson! These influences helped them in make wonderful new music that were reminiscent of days gone by when rock ruled the radio waves! No need to just read about it, check out their performance of Devil’s Highway from back in 2009 at the Baybeats 2009 Round 2 Auditions at the Esplanade Waterfront stage!

Their fame caught on as NTU’s Cultural Activities Club did an interview with the band in 2009 where the band opened up about their origin, influences and dreams! The interview was a 6 page (pg 22-27) spread in the magazine that featured some quirky questions too!

Over the years, NS, studies and work were responsibilities that band members had to deal with which led to a break in the music. Eventually, the band started gigging again in 2012 and performed for the 2012 New Year’s Eve party at Scape.

Photo of Narpal taken from the band’s facebook page.

Other gigs included performances at SMU’s Starry Night in 2013 to celebrate the end of the school term, and they were even invited to be part of the fundraising event to support the Sam Willows in their pursuit to tour North America!

Photo taken from their facebook page.

What’s endearing about these boys was that they even took time out ot perform for smaller gigs like Sangeets! Check out one such performance from 2014 where Narpal belted out the evergreen ballad ‘You Look Wonderful Tonight’!

Eventually, mainstream media took notice and brought them to our screens and radio! SPH Razor TV made a video of the boys serenading young ladies along Orchard Road and 987fm played their latest track Adeline on live national radio!

To date, they have released 7 tracks on Soundcloud, including their first recorded song (EP) Angels and Phantoms from back in 2007-08. Their other recorded songs include, ‘Psycho Dime’,  ‘Tonight’, ‘Gravity’, ‘Devil’s Highway’, ‘Broken Road’, and ‘Adeline’.

While the band had called it a day, you can read and hear more from their Facebook, Twitter, Bandwagon, YouTube, and Soundcloud.

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