NIMAD's 'Chichli Dhol' Is A Breathtaking Tribute To Madhya Pradesh's Folk Traditions

NIMAD's Chichli Dhol is a breathtaking exploration, where the ancient melodies of Nimadi folk music from Madhya Pradesh intertwine with global textures.

The story began with Bharat Chandore and Jayesh Malani, two multi-instrumentalists driven by a singular mission. For six months, they scoured the land, finally landing in Chichli, a village amid Madhya Pradesh's Nimad region. Here, on the banks of the Narmada river, they set up a makeshift studio in an ancestral mud house, surrounded by sprawling banana plantations. This setting became the cradle for a creative explosion.

The inspiration struck when the duo encountered Dashrath Dada, a mesmerising drummer whose dhol beats held a hypnotic power. Their time in Chichli was also rich with field recordings that captured the raw essence of the land. Upon returning, they channelled these experiences into a track that evokes a trip: a sonic journey into the depths of altered consciousness or possession.

"Emotionally, we wanted to capture the connection between the human form and the divine energy, represented by the little girl (Devi). The closer we get, the more we enter the altered state."
Keerthi Raju

Director Keerthi Raju explains that the visuals were designed to mirror the song's journey. Raju describes the use of Kathi dancers, clad in vibrant red and performing hypnotic movements, to create a trance effect. The initial focus on the dancers prepping for their performance establishes a ritualistic atmosphere, hinting at the transformative experience to come. As the song progresses, the visuals become increasingly distorted through fast-paced editing and superimpositions, mirroring the rising intensity of the music. The use of fire further emphasizes the transformative power depicted in the video.

A key challenge was translating the vibrant energy of the Gangaur festival into a visually artistic and culturally authentic experience. Their solution was merging traditional elements with modern techniques to create a surreal yet relatable narrative.

Jayesh Malani, the creator behind Nimad, sheds light on the unique soundscape of Chichli Dhol. He shares personal anecdotes that heavily influenced the music. From witnessing a possession ceremony during a late-night temple visit to incorporating the rhythmic chants of morning prayers, the song is woven from the very essence of their residency in Chichli.

Malani highlights the use of the Khadi Chal dhol groove, traditionally used to guide possessed participants during the Gangour festival. This, along with the artistry of mixer Ben Findlay, infuses the track with a Pink Floyd-esque "On the Run" vibe. Nimad strives to both preserve and reinterpret traditional Nimadi folk music. They achieve this by immersing themselves in the environment, absorbing the music's essence, and then thoughtfully adding their own creative flourishes.

"The inception of the project comes from the spirit of bringing ourselves into a specific environment, respecting and absorbing every little detail it has to offer, and very mindfully adding and shaping those folk tunes based on how we thought we could bring into the now. These folk tunes have been passed on through generations of folk musicians. The magic was already in them, and we knew it."
Jayesh Malani

Respecting the folk musicians' comfort zone was paramount. Click tracks, commonly used in modern recording, were avoided to prevent intimidation. Instead, the recording process revolved around the natural flow of the musicians, creating a collaborative and supportive atmosphere.

Malani acknowledges the profound impact of collaborating with the Nimadi community. He describes a deep connection formed, a "safe space" where music becomes a bridge for mutual learning and growth.

Nimad acts as a bridge, carrying the melodies of Nimadi folk traditions to the spotlight.

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