E-Pao! TAPTA - The voice of the common people :: Part 1

Part I: The voice of the common people
By: Ringo Pebam *

Music is an art for some people. Music is soul to some people. Music is leisure for some people. Music is a voice that conveys message to some people.

All is not very well in Manipur; the state of our “Ema Leibak” is pathetic. Book-burning, Communal and Ethnic Violence, Economic Blockades, Name-sake Social Workers, very frequent Bandhs, Puppet Politicians, Corrupt Bureaucracy and others who play a major role in the affairs of the state; all these social ills serve to form a recursive loop.

Everybody applies the mantra of the “survival of the fittest”, and they don’t care whether their means are fair or unfair. Is everything justified in the name of money-making? People live their lives in fear, in their very own land, because a bullet from a Kalashnikov can make a target out of anyone – anytime, and anywhere. Yes, the power of bullets!!! Life is being devaluated day by day.

The system is full of flaws, which are spiraling out of control. Still most of us prefer to remain as mute spectators. Are we so *dimly aware* or are we the *educated fools*?

Defying existing music conventions and appealing widely to the counterculture of the time, we have seen musicians across the globe who wrote songs on - politics, social issues, anti-war, racism, non-violence, civil and human rights, causes ranging from nuclear disarmament to reconciliation and environmental issues.

Hijam Irabot wrote inspirational anthems like "Thangol Adu Maya Thanglo Lou-wuba", "Chat-lo Chatsi Echil Enaosa" with some influence of communist ideology.

"Pari Imom Samu Pangalba", was one thought provoking, pin-pricking song that woke us up from doldrums many a times.

Pahari's "Hae Ima Manipur", Sanaton's "Meitei Nongsha Mamingta Ngairae", “Meitei Macha”, etc though not were of my days, but it still found its place in my collection of audio cassettes during the days of Guns N Roses and Metallica.

Many artists have written beautiful and powerful lyrics that send out strong messages to the masses.

In these days of difference, there's a singer that you can't ignore. He is Jayanta, popularly known as TAPTA.

Tapta needs no introduction, it was sometime in mid-90’s, when he came to the music scene in Manipur with a solid bang, with his debut album called “Power of Attraction”. He has been a cult figure; his music has been cult music since then. He is a favorite of the mass – from ang-ngang to aa-han, from rock music aficionados to hindustani classical fans to folk music (nat-ki oiba esei – music of our forefathers) lovers, he is love by all.

Tapta has been the voice of the common people. Standing up against the odds and daring to speak out against the system he has been a much respected musician. His lyrics are bold, straight forward and thought provoking. Songs like “Bandh”, “Problem Ni Problem”, ”Haiyona”, “Loktak Project”, “Mantri”, “Black Law”, “We want peace”, “60 MLA”, “Buldo”, “Army”, “Commando”, “Aids Red Bottle”. “JN Hospital”, “Lungnila”, “Eramdam”, “Ema amatagi machani”, “Vande Mataram” etc are the voice of the frustrated common men of these days.

Bob Dylan’s "Blowing In The Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changing”, became the anthems of the anti-war and civil rights movements. Bob Marley who suffered racial prejudice as a youth wrote “Get Up, Stand Up”, “Redemtion Song”, “No Woman No Cry” etc. John Lennon, used his power as a superstar to help end the Vietnam War. A rebel from the days of the Beatles itself, he became an anti-war activist, an apostle of peace. His songs like "Imagine" and "Give Peace A Chance", recorded during the height of the Vietnam War, became anti-war anthems. The Nixon Administration had to even order him deported from the US to silence him. Bono, the lead singer and principal lyricist of the Irish Band - U2, is known for his rebellious tone of social and political anger through his lyrics and comments in live concerts. Rage against the Machine, have been one of the most popular Hard-Rock 'social-commentary' bands in the last 20 years, with protest songs such as "Killing In The Name".

Jayanta is the John Lennon, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Bono…. of our times. He is our hero.

A brief look at some lines from his songs:

Bandh- Tapta

Prime minister laak-pagi hekta bandh
Mantri matik chaade haibagi hekta bandh
Delhi-na thawoibide haibei hekta bandh
Naga-ga lam yet-naba-gisu hekta bandh
Bandh bandh, bandh bandh, bandh bandh, bandh bandh

Toti laak-tabagi hekta bandh
Mei laak-tabagisu hekta bandh
Kaang-loop masel haat-nabagisu hekta bandh
Tolop hengat-tabagisu hekta bandh….

Download Bandh mp3 and full lyrics from:

Problem Ni Problem/Tapta

Problem-ni problem, Punshi-se problem, Problem-ni problem
Punshi-se problem, Problem-ni problem, Life is problem

Ahaanba problem: Laal-houba-gi problem
Ani-suba, Ahum-suba, Mari-suba problem
Corruption-gi, AIDS-ki, Thabak Phang dabagi problem
Problem-ni problem, Ho, Problem-ni problem, Ho

Khatna-rega cheina-rega, Haat-narega tup-narega
Haat-lam-lega tup-lam-lega, Shiram-le-gana

Potha-pham khang-handraba phunshi-se
Chan-neina hingli-ba punshi-se
Cham-mam-nana hing-lak-eeba punshi-se……

Download Problem Ni Problem mp3 and full lyrics from:
Download/watch Problem Ni Problem Video

Vande Mataram/Tapta

Laan-mina Lei-ngakpa Lam, AFSPA na Panba Leibak
Oat-neiriba Lamdam, Loilam-gi Lamdam,
Ningtamba Phanglee-giana, Shaklu-ghidra Eaina ‘Vande Mataram’ ?

Punseen-biragadaba Khong-Khut, Sarangi Mannungda
Phugai-biragadaba, sor-se leppa phouba custody da…
Ng-ang-khi-gadara Eaibu, ‘Jana gana mana aadina…. ?

Download/watch Vande Mataram from: Video

Eddie’s Photo Courtesy:

Coming next weekend: Tapta: Part 2 - Early Days (1968 to mid-90’s)

Part 2 in the series is available now, Check it out here.
* Ringo Pebam, a Software Engineer in Bangalore, and a Free and Open Source Software enthusiast, contributes regularly to The writer can be contacted at ringo_pebam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com. This article was webcasted on 1st September, 2007

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