|Assam Skies - a ChaiTunes presentation|
Assam Skies... Watch the video!
Originally written as a poem by Karen Weed, 'Assam Skies' depicts the life and relationship of an English tea planter and Rampiyari, a young tribal girl from the tea gardens of Assam. This is a true story based in the era of Colonial rule in India. Rampiyari died of a broken heart when her two children were taken away from her and put into a home for orphans in Assam. It was the same year when their father married his English wife.
Assam Skies is the 5th from the ChaiTunes series of music videos. It is a collaborative project where, for the first time, Assamese traditional musical instruments are fused with an American country/folk styled song. 'Assam Skies' also won the runners up award at the UK Songwriting Competition.
The poem has been converted to a ballad by an American country singer Char Seawell and Assamese musician/producer Jim Ankan Deka. Very soon, the musical video depicting the story of Karen's great grandmother Rampiry will be released online by Bangalore based production house Music Malt under ChaiTunes Project.
MUSICLyrics: Karen Weed (UK),
Music: Jim Ankan Deka and Char Seawell (US),
Guitar & Keys: Jim Ankan Deka,
Vocals: Char Seawell (vocals), Catherine Khiangte (vocals),
Flute: Debojit Kalita,
Dotora, Dogor & traditional instruments: Barun Das,
Cajon: Prabal Gogoi,
Band: Eastern Fare,
Music Arrangement: Jim Ankan Deka.
VIDEODirector: Tarunabh Dutta,
Produced: Karen Weed, Debjani Hazarika & Jim Ankan Deka,
DOP: Tarunabh Dutta, Prabal Gogoi,
2nd Unit Director: Prabal Gogoi,
Teaser video: Pragyan Bezbaruah,
Production Manager: Angshumann Bhattacharya,
Production Supervisor: Himakhi Dutta,
Camera: Tarunabh Dutta,
Location Manager: Debjani Hazarika,
Still Photos: Pragyan Bezbaruah, Arnabjyoti Kashyap, Nitesh Parvat,
Editors: Tarunabh Dutta, Pragyan Bezbaruah, Jim Ankan Deka,
Animator: Tarunabh Dutta.
CASTEnglish Tea Planter: Lain Heringman (Spain),
Rampiyari: Gargi Buragohain (Geetu),
English Wife: Alice Banting Bhattacharya (UK),
Daughters (child artists): Harshita Baruah, Bornali Thakuria
Kidnappers: Nitesh Parvat, Arnabjyoti Kashyap,
Children Home In-charge: Bishnu Pada Pramanik,
Driver: Gobind Gogoi.
STUDIOSVideo: TD Film Studio, Guwahati,
Music Mastering & Editing: Music Malt Studios,
Recording: Swargam Audiocraft,
Design & Styling: JM Design Studio,
Makeover & Wardrobe: Jenie's Mascara.
Production House: Music Malt
Online Partner: OK North East
Associated band: Eastern Fare
A ChaiTunes Presentation
Powered by: Music Malt in association with OK North East
Music Arrangement by: Jim Ankan Deka
Associated band: Eastern Fare
SPECIAL THANKS TO:1. Pocket Friendly Travels (http://www.pocketfriendlytravels.in) for the teaser videos.
2. Rohit (Rana) Choudhury for the locations and heritage bungalow.
3. Manohar Choudhury & Heritage Automobile Association of Assam (HAAA) for the vintage cars.
4. People of Garo Para and Nokari villages of Assam.
5. Simi Batra, Antara Bordoloi Kalita, Jubee Baruah and Arzoo Sarma for the costumes and the heritage items.
6. Joey Baruah, Rajat Bangia, Rakesh Borgohain, Kanaklata Hazarika, Dhruba Jyoti Bora, Naren Hazarika, Sumitra Phukan.
THE STORYFrank Cyril Edwards did not have much idea about what awaited him when he boarded the ship Manora to India in 1919. He reached Assam to join the Balijan Tea Estate in Tingrai, Dibrugarh district, as an Assistant Manager. Little did he know that this trip will change his life and generations later. This is the story of F.C.Edwards and Rampiyari, as researched by Karen Weed, the great-granddaughter of Frank. A story of love, betrayal and broken hearts - this is the story of 'Assam Skies'!
When Frank was working in the Balijan Tea Garden (Hoogrijan), he met and fell in love with Rampiyari, a tribal girl from the tea garden. Going against the will of the society, their relationship flourished. In 1920, they had their first daughter and two years later another daughter was born.
Everything went fine, until 1925, when Frank's fiance from England arrived; an English lady named Muriel Florence Collins (also known as Rita). Ramipiyari was surprised by the new events as well as Frank's change of behaviour; but she being an Indian, could not raise her voice. The same year, Frank forcefully took away his 5 and 3-year-old daughters from their mother and put them at Dr. Graham's Homes in Kalimpong, a home designed especially for the Anglo Indian Children, where they were baptised and christened.
Frank got married to Muriel in 1925. They had a son and lived in Balijan till 1928. Frank left for England with his English wife and son in the same year in the ship Manora. Although not much have been written about Rampiyari, it seems, she died shortly after her children were taken away from her. This was told to the elder daughter, Ms Edwards, when she was a resident at Dr. Graham's Homes. She was also told by the caregivers at Dr. Graham's Homes that her father paid for their education and well being, but did not want anyone including his daughters to contact him or his new family. They did not share his whereabouts.
Around 1936, Ms Edwards, a 16-yr-old young lady then, left Dr. Garhams Homes and travelled in train throughout India. She reached Karachi (a part of undivided India then; now in Pakistan) where she started her life as a nurse and took up a job of 'live in nursery nurse' for a British Army family. Whilst in this job, she met her future husband. They had a daughter together in 1941. In 1943, they left Karachi and moved to England. Her younger sister, who was still at Dr. Garham's Homes, left India and moved to London and got married to an Englishman. None of them knew that Frank Cyril Edwards lived in England till 1964. In fact, Ms Edwards tried once more to find his whereabouts before leaving Karachi; but, she received an anonymous letter which appeared to be full of lies.
When Karen Weed, a writer, heard the entire story from her grandmother, she wanted the story of Rampiyari to be heard. In 2017, she wrote the poem 'Assam Skies' based on the life of her grandmother and the relationship between Frank and Rampiyari. She decided to enter the prestigious UK Songwriting Contest where 'Assam Skies' achieved Semi Finals placing. With more excitement in her heart, she shared the poem with various people. In the winter of 2018, Char Seawell, a folk-country singer from Bothell, USA, after having a talk with Karen, came forward to give a tune to the poem, transforming it to a melodious song.
In 2019, Assamese music producer, Jim Ankan Deka, was approached by Karen to produce the music for Assam Skies. He brought together a team of traditional and western musicians, actors and filmmakers to fully produce a musical docudrama based on the story. For the first time, traditional Assamese musical instruments are used for an American country-folk based song. The song was released worldwide in June, 2019.
The song is sung by Char herself along with Catherine Khiangte from Mizoram. The Assamese traditional instruments have been recorded by Barun Das and Debojit Kalita in Assam. The percussionists are Prabal Gogoi and Debjani Hazarika. Jim himself played the guitar, bass and keys. Char's voice was recorded in Washington.
The shooting of the video started in August with the lead actors Lain Heringman from Spain, Alice Banting Bhattacharya from UK and Gargi Buragohain from Assam. The child actors who acted in the video are Harshita Baruah and Bornali Thakuria. Few other actors who acted in different roles are Nitesh Parvat, Arnabjyoti Kashyap and Bishnu Pada Pramanik.
The video was directed by filmmaker, Tarunabh Dutta assisted by Himakhi Dutta and Angshuman Bhattacharya. The still photographer is Pragyan Bezbaruah. The 2nd Unit Director is Prabal Gogoi. The video is produced jointly by Karen Weed, Jim and Debjani. The video will be released under ChaiTunes Project by Music Malt.