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Silchar musician Sourjyo Sinha wins Toto Music Award 2023; talks about his roots and influences

Be it films or books or even music, Barak Valley’s Syloti identity has always been underrepresented in arts & literature. Living and breathing under the hegemony of the Bangla dialect & scriptures, one individual from Silchar has been flaunting his Syloti identity through his music. 

Sourjyo Sinha, hailing from the National Highway Road of Silchar, has been producing original music, telling tales of both personal and social issues, since 2016. And recently, his musical project Dindūn has won the prestigious Toto Awards 2023 in the category of Music for its ingenuine composition in this field.

Toto Awards are given every year to budding independent artists in the fields of music, literature, photography, digital arts, and short films. The criteria for selection is that one has to be an unsigned independent artist under the age of 30 to qualify for the category of music, where Dindūn won the award this year.

Born and raised in Silchar, Sourjyo currently resides in Kolkata, where he started his career as an independent musician. “I first came to Kolkata in 2013 for my under-graduation at Jadavpur University. It is here only that I found like-minded people to pursue the kind of music that I’ve always loved”, said the 28-year-old musician.

Growing up, Sourjyo has always wanted to make music, thanks to his varied musical influences. “Bollywood music has always had a big impact on my taste. Then I got introduced to The Beatles through my father, which opened the floodgate to a lot of other international music, especially the British-Indie alternative scene of the 90s.” 

Apart from Dindūn, Sourjyo also plays in an indie folk/electronica band called ‘Whale in the Pond’, with whom he has already released an album titled ‘Dofon’ back in 2018. He says, “Whale in the Pond is more like a collaborative effort where the four of us sit and contribute equally in the creative process. Dindūn, a synth-folk duo, is me playing all the instruments as well as singing, with my friend Rohit Ganesh overseeing the production department”.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of both of his projects is the use of the Syloti dialect apart from English and Bangla. The Dindūn song ‘Chandor Tolay Dekha Hoibo’ is one such example, written in the Sylhoti dialect amidst a dreamy soundscape.

Talking about his conscious choice of Syloti songwriting, Sourjyo remarks, “I grew up in a place where people speak the Syloti tongue, but nobody uses it to write or sing, and Syloti songs are very far and between. There has always been a tendency to fall back on the Bangla hegemony, which is never good for the preservation of the Syloti heritage. On top of that, the roots of folk music have always been ostensibly connected to the Syloti dialect, which kind of made it an obvious choice.”

Within such a short period, Sourjyo has also managed to perform live at various famous venues and music festivals such as the NH7 Weekender, Zomaland, Princep Ghat Kolkata, among others. And recently, his band Whale in the Pond is also getting an invitation from Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh.

“I’ve performed in several places throughout India, and am also getting interest to perform in Bangladesh. But the saddest part is that hardly anybody knows me from Silchar. It’s my hometown and I’d love to perform there any day, but I guess that has to wait for now”, stated Sourjyo while talking about his experience of live performances.

Talents like Sourjyo Sinha needs all the support and motivation from their fellow people in Barak Valley. And for the culture and identity of Barak Valley to sustain, it’s of paramount importance that artists like him get the deserved platform for their art to shine through.

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