| 23 May 2024
Lack of financial support kills an artiste's dream sooner than we think: Lou Majaw

MUMBAI: “I talk about rain, breeze, laughter and tears.” Quotes like these played a major role in contributing to this legendary Khasi musician’s image as ‘India’s Bob Dylan’, apart from decades of tributes to the American icon.

Covering Dylan songs for a professional musician could be easy today, but Meghalay native Lou Majaw is ‘a Dylan’ even during his interviews, with his stage presence, and also simply in his successful attempt to inspire hundreds of attendees dance to his songs.

The veteran guitarist performed at the Songs & Dances of North East, held in Navi Mumbai last weekend. A combined effort of Arunachal Pradesh and the North East Council, supported by Maharashtra government, it found a venue at the CIDCO complex in Mumbai’s satellite township. Over 350 performers enthralled the audience with their respective arts, representing local dance, songs and culture. Lou Majaw represented his love for music, the idea of India’s North East and a hope of peace. “The idea is to make life meaningful, and no bullshit” expressed Majaw, whose motive behind every performance continues to be “making people happy.”

Majaw interrupts calmly when you call him ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr Majaw’ to say, “I’m Lou Majaw. Call me Lou.” The instant connect with the musician on the phone further leads to a comfortable conversation that covers all aspects of his childhood through his teenage years and the inevitable 70s. He’s 69 now. Even Lou Majaw gets old.

“I belonged to an extremely poor family. We could not offer a guitar or any kind of instrument. The times were tough,” recalled Majaw during the interview. An idol to many, Lou understands the times have been better for musicians – economically and artistically – but the “upliftment of any artist still needs to continue,” he argues. The efforts put in by state governments from the ‘Seven Sister’ states received deserved accolades from the music community across the other regions of India, although Majaw ponders - where is the money? “Financial support is needed. Lack of it, more often or not, kills an artiste’s dream sooner than we can think.”

Majaw feels a motivating environment needs to be created and sustained for creative freedom, and collective efforts (like this) need to be acknowledged.

Majaw had people on their feet during his performance, some young enthusiasts even tried to touch him or his feet, as a mark of respect. Such is Majaw’s ability to transcend his music across several generations. Majaw seemed impressed with the event title – Songs & Dances of North East – he however, also emphasised on the ‘equal importance to all’ factor. “You are from South, I am from North East, XYZ is from west and all that, why? Aren’t we all from India? From an auto guy to Narendra Modi, we are all Indians.”

Majaw did not complete his schooling. But then that led to his discovery of the guitar. So where would Lou Majaw have been if the then-teenager did not discover the six-string acoustic instrument? “I would have been a farmer. I would have had my own rice field. If there is one person I respect the most, that’s a farmer.”