Photo by Vijay Verma
Student of Film Making
1) What is Manzil Mystics all about ?
We are a choir group and do Indian Fusion. We started with three former Manzil students and teachers with a shared passion for traditional Indian music, Indian Folk music, and a desire to celebrate our culture through music.
With a dream in our hearts of educating people through music, the 10 vocalists and 2 instrumentalists in Manzil Mystics have been performing and working in Delhi for the last two years. We have worked with many organizations on various issues related to environment, gender-based violence, governmental corruption, honor killing, failure in the education system in India, and many more.
2) When did we form our band? What inspired us to make music together?
We started our journey on 8th February 2011 with Music for Harmony, an annual event organised by Pravah on the theme of “Peace and Unity”. In December, 2010 I along with 2 of my friends Sanghprakash Bharti and Rashmi Arya started thinking about forming a group with a need to work on social issues and to contribute to our community using music as medium. We called some of our friends to join us and then we all saw a need of creating a space for young people who are talented, but do not get any professional stage to perform, learn, and explore.
We have been hugely influenced by Gandhi ji's teachings and Kabir ji's writings and that reflects in our work as well.
3) What are the challenges you face as a band?
Almost every organization wants to change certain behaviors and music is a very effective means of achieving a behavioral change, but most organizations do not recognize this as yet. Many organizations think that music is just for entertainment. They don’t realize that it is an effective medium of communication and bringing social change.
Another problem we face is of fundraising. We also want to cross-subsidize. We have been and would like to in the future as well take up programs/projects that are socially beneficial and have limited or no funds involved, but unfortunately funded programs are very few and hence we are able to take up very few projects on pro bono basis.
We want people to go beyond the divisions in our society based on caste, religion, gender, income, etc. We want to spread the message that everyone is equal and we should treat everyone equally.
4) What are the other activities that the band takes up? What are the few initiatives that we have taken to address the issues that concern us as a group?
Learning through Music: During the inception of the Manzil Mystics our core idea remained to not just create music for fun and entertainment but take a step further. We came up with an idea to create music modules that will focus not just on music as a skill but also as a medium to catalyze the learning process in children.
Thus we came up with 'Learning through Music', under which we connect with institutions to impart music and vocal skills with the thread of value based education running through each designed activity.
'Learning through Music' class is not just brimming with lessons on vocals, instrumental, composition etc but with ideas about awareness, inner transformation and change around their community.
Manzil Mystics has been running this project for last 2 years. We are currently running this project at Vidya & Child, Ambedkar Colony, Noida-37 (an NGO working with people from low income background in Noida), Tech Mahindra’s initiative at MCD school, Dilshad Garden. And in the past with Katkatha, G.B Road (an NGO working in Delhi’s red light area for sex workers and their children). We have worked with PVR Nest (PVR groups), Vidya & Child(another center), Bhodivriksh (Alwar), Dreaming Child Production (Delhi) and Adhyayan (Delhi).
CCM (Chai, Charcha, and Music):We meet once in 3 months and invite our fellow musicians and other artists who meet us in our musical journey. The idea is to celebrate life, promote arts and Indian culture through these gatherings. We have various theatre artists, musicians, dancers, and comedian who have attended and contributed to the gathering.
5) What are your future plans?
We are launching our first Album in the 1st week of August 2014. You will get to hear 7 compositions of Manzil Mystics and one song based on Indian classical raga. This album will talk about different stages of our life.
6) What advice do you have for people who want to form their own band?
When a band comes together as a family and there is deep trust and respect for each other, they can create magic .
Anurag Hoon (Vocalist & Writer, Manzil Mystics)