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Tribute to the late, great, ‘fully fantastic’ Amit Saigal

It’s been more than 3 years since Amit Saigal, ‘founder’ of the Indian Contemporary Music Scene passed away. To commemorate his recent birthday, and to introduce him to those who did not have the chance to meet the great man, this month Mojo Junction is publishing a video and tribute made at the time of his passing.

It is with great sadness and disbelief that I am writing a tribute to the late, great, Amit Saigal.  Yet it is an honor to have been asked to do so, just as it is an honor to have spent time in the fine company of this revolutionary man, so much so as to consider him a close friend.

He had a warm and welcoming presence that enabled him to step down from the unreachable pedestal many public figures of his stature stand upon. His open, giving nature set the stage for the evolution of the Indian rock music scene and beyond. That generous spirit has carried through a generation of Indian musicians, resulting in one of the most thriving and innovative music scenes in the world today.

It is surreal that the world is no longer graced with his bubbly ‘fully fantastic’ presence. Though I’m sure he’s having a bloody great time up there with the fellow rock legends of days gone by. I know the knowledge of his passing won’t completely sink in until I reach Indian shores once more, and fly into Delhi.

Every visit to date has begun with a desperation to reach the oasis of his Hauz Khas apartment after the long flight. I will miss that jubilant cheeky smile welcoming me at the door.  As will the many musicians and travellers that were lucky enough to be welcomed into his home. The walls were always reverberating with music, be it from his diverse and inspiring personal collection, or the infamous nocturnal marathon jam sessions that rarely died down before daybreak.

Saying great things about Amit is easy. He was one of the most ambitious people I have ever known, continually engaged with multiple creative concepts, and committed to bringing them to fruition. Unlike many creative people who focus inward when it comes to expression, Amit directed his energy outward.

His creative vision was for the benefit of many, encompassing the dreams of countless musicians and music-appreciators alike. Despite the drudgery of the endless hours and behind-the-scenes work required to make these dreams a reality, Amit always maintained a positive vibe. He was a visionary, and fully understood that each day was only as enjoyable as you made it.

It was with this attitude that he built not only an entire music scene from the ground, but also created a culture that encouraged freedom of expression. In twenty years much has changed for Indian contemporary musicians, foreign touring artists and dedicated music fans. A scene now actually exists in which there is massive scope for creative expression, with flourishing festivals and plentiful venues.

In 2015, thanks to the accessibility of the Internet, aspiring promoters, musicians and fans do not face the same challenge Amit did in 1993 when Rock Street Journal enjoyed its humble beginnings in newsletter format. Amit provided the spark to get the fire burning. His legacy will continue to grow as the wildfire spreads in infinite directions, via hearts ignited and united in passion for the greatest gift to humankind, music.

 

Written by Aurora Jane 

 

Originally published in ‘Rock Street Journal’ India 2012

The film ‘Fully Fantastic Amit Saigal’ was made for Blue Frog TV by Shadaab Kadri Aditya Sankhe and Anirudh Bhate

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