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News |  01 Jul 2021 09:43 |  By Namrata Kale

Fans can expect a rich account of our history and journey, including decades-old archival media, rare performance: Kabir Partap on docu-series

Ravinder, Mohinder, and Davinder, The Partap Brothers have been nothing short of an institution when it comes to Indian Classical Music. Over the years The Partap brothers have been credited with the preservation and resurgence of Puratan Gurmat Sangeet. They have, over the years amassed legions of fans across the globe and created a legacy that needs to be celebrated and cherished.

It was this thought that prompted Kabir Partap, son of Mohinder Partap to conceptualize a documentary series chronicling the four-decade journey of his father and uncles. With the unfortunate demise of his father in February this year, Kabir realized the magnitude of their music and just how sensational and impactful it has been over the years. He knew then that their family and music had to be documented and shown to the world. The documentary will cover themes relating to The Partap Brothers’ music, their tight-knit family bond, and their journey from being immigrants to proudly carrying their art form and presenting it to the world with aplomb. Each episode of this music docu-series will take the viewers on a journey of their lives, exploring unwavering bonds of brotherhood in the face of international fame, cultural clash, and life’s myriad challenges.

Over their four-decade journey, the Partap Brothers have travelled to the UK, North America, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore and spread their art to the masses in these countries. In the 70s and 80s, they have spent years travelling across Europe and North America performing their inimitable music for their hordes of fans. Fans and classical music aficionados all over the world have been wowed by their music and they’d all agree to the certain aura that The Partap Brothers have. It can’t be communicated through words and can only be experienced. That flare and magic simply can’t be replicated.

The documentary will give the fans a glimpse into their world with never seen before behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive footage from their shows in Pakistan, London, Kenya, and India and interviews with close associates. It’s currently in its pre-production stage and Kabir Partap is leaving no stone unturned to make it a one of its kind series that blends the best elements of documentary filmmaking- raw footage, intense reality moments, unique stories, and human truths. The film will be in English and will be translated into Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu. What was the primary reason behind the idea of making the documentary?

What can fans of The Partap Brothers expect from the documentary which will come as a surprise element for them as well?

Fans can accept a rich account of the Partap Brothers’ history and journey, including decades-old archival media, rare performance footage, and interviews with family members, fans, and celebrities. A surprise element of the documentary will be how in-depth it goes into the Partap Brothers’ personal struggles around being new immigrants, the social stigma within the Sikh community of dedicating their lives to Gurmat Sangeet; the balancing act of pursuing music and religious artistry at the expense of more stable careers; how post 9-11 America impacted the brothers’ journey personally and professionally; and perhaps most illuminating, how they came from a conservative community with certain expectations but were irreverent at every turn. It’s a story unlike any other.

Partap Brothers are known for putting Indian classical music on a global map, can you tell us about some turning points in their four decade-long journey?

There were several turning points in the Partap Brothers’ rich history. They include the loss of their beloved mother in 1984; leaving their native Indian to traverse the globe, the day the brothers obtained their United States citizenship, the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York; our social media rise in 2016; The Partap Brothers’ trip to Lahore in 2019; and most recently the passing of the beloved Bhai Mohinder Partap Singh Ji. The documentary will explore these turning points among others and how the brothers’ journey was forever transformed upon their occurrence.

As somebody who has conceptualized the docu-series, how difficult is it to encompass such celebrated personalities and their journeys in a few hours? How are you planning to take on that crucial challenge?

It is of course incredibly difficult to capture decades of The Partap Brothers’ journey in just a few hours or even episodes. However, the team feels prepared for the challenge by isolating key moments, media clips, and themes that we feel encapsulate the essence of the Partap Brothers’ journey. We are currently collecting and compiling archival footage and interviews from all over the world, and are pleasantly surprised by just how dedicated the Partap Brothers’ fans are—who have held onto these clips and recordings for decades! We ask our longtime listeners and all music lovers to continue to share any photos, videos, VHS, CD, memories, etc with us as we gather this priceless material. Once the footage, clips, and interviews are compiled, we will be able to tell the story in a rich and thoughtful way. We are not just focusing on “grand” moments or events, but also exploring their journey in a very human way that we can all relate to. It's a new frontier but one we are most excited about.

Anything else you would like to add?

We feel at our core that this is a story that will resonate with all of us—as it focuses on themes and struggles we all deal with in our daily lives. For example- tensions and struggles with family; dealing with political and social events that impact us personally; having certain expectations from our families and communities that we struggle to meet; balancing old and new; pursuing our passions at the expense of what the world and society tells us are “better” or “safer” options. The truth is that no great art would be created if we all took the safe road or the path laid out for us by others. If you think about it, all great art came from individuals willing to push the boundaries and walk on the unknown and undiscoverable path. I visualize artists as those who walk on tightropes over mountains while the rest of the world stands below watching and waiting to see what happens. Artists open themselves up to financial and societal vulnerability and a great deal of ridicule and critique from the outside world. I admire artists because they are the shepherds of culture and heritage. We often make the mistake of celebrating them when they are gone but we need to start celebrating them while they are here with us- and most importantly- encourage the next generations to create as well.

The documentary was inspired by the fans of The Partap Brothers. Specifically, there has been a renewed global interest in Gurmat Sangeet and Sikh spiritual artistry, as well as Indian classical art-forms generally. The information and social media age has brought more enlightenment to our fingertips than ever before, and as part of that, many around the world have an interest in preserving the artforms of our heritage. Since the Partap Brothers have dedicated their lives as flag bearers to this ancient and complex art form, they have been inundated with requests from Indian Classical music lovers to memorialize their life journey in a music documentary series so that this rich tradition can be preserved for generations to come, and their story can be remembered.