Flying high through music

Flying high through music

Flying high through music

A few men in a good mood sit upright holding guitars, adjusting the keyboard, testing the drums as you enter Jail No. 3’s music room. As you settle in, they start singing a track composed by themselves. No, Jail No. 3 isn’t a fancy name that a rockband just acquired.

It is actually Jail No. 3 of Central Jail, Tihar where the inmates are allowed to participate and make their own music!

None of them is a professional and yet they do justice to music. It is because of them that “Jail No. 3 is a model ward,” says everyone who has heard them play. The sentiment is reiterated throughout and the under-trials here have become ‘ role models’ for other prisoners because of their passion for music.

It all began with four people: Amit Saxena, Amit Jha, Dinesh Chandra and Sandeep Kumar who used to pick up their dholak, harmonium and congo and performed whenever and wherever asked. But with time, they realised that establishing a full-fledged band comprising 10 members worked better and christened it ‘Flying Souls.’

The name itself defines their desire. “While deciding on the name we earlier had thought of ‘Lost Souls’ but then finalised ‘Flying Souls’ with the thought that our music will make our souls (if not bodies) fly out of prison,” says Sandeep.

The brain behind the band Sandeep was brought in for kidnapping on 7 July 2007. While some make think 7 is the best number going around numerologically, Sandeep feels otherwise: “Number 7 has not been lucky for me because I came to the jail that day.” A poet at heart, he writes lyrics for the band.

Flying Souls now comprises Sunny Malik as the lead guitarist with Vikram Jeet Singh and Dinesh Chand on guitars, Chandra Shekhar Sharma on keyboard, Amit Saxena as vocalist, Bhagirath on drums, Harnam Singh on tabla while the baby of the band (being the youngest) Bhishm gets to play the chimta, but has renamed it Jhankar beats! It has been almost a year since the band was formed but they were noticed only in December last when they jammed at Jail No. 7 along with Menwhopause - the well-known Delhi band.

Since then, their popularity has grown. How do their parents feel? Harnam Singh jokes, “Vo to hume galiyan de rahe honge ki tum andar aish kar rahe ho aur hum bahar court ke chakkar kaat ke pareshan ho rahe hain!” Name and fame has been coming their way but even that is a joke for them, “Ek baar akhbaaron me tab naam aya tha jab andar aye the aur ek baar ab aa raha hai.” However, they confess that music is just a vent and can never overrule the fact that they are still inmates in a jail. “We indulge in music for two to three hours as it keeps our negative thoughts at bay,” says Amit Saxena. Bound by music, they share everything including prayers and food. So, if one’s mother prays for her son, she ensures she prays for his new found friends too. And if another gets homemade food, his family ensures that there is enough for all of them to share. But beyond the fun and laughter, their pain gives way to defence. “We are not guilty,” says Amit Saxena and Bhism adds, “We are victims of circumstances.”

Music keeps these jailbirds going but what is disheartening is the fact that even after six months of recording and finalising songs for an album, they have yet to see the final product. Menwhopause who recorded the tracks have yet to send them back the final version. “It has been six months and till date there is no final take on the album. Atleast show us whatever has been recorded, even if you are not releasing it,” they rue.

And life moves on. Sunny might be leaving the jail soon and currently their worry is, “Ye chala jayega toh drums kaun bajayega?” But deep down they all want for each one to go home - preferably soon.