Kashmiri musician Pragnya Wakhlu’s latest track is an antidote to pandemic despair
What started as a minute-long video during the 2020 lockdown went on to become a full-fledged song this summer
Pragnya Wakhlu has an antidote to the bleakness of the times. A new song. Titled ‘Song of Hope’, this Delhi-based Kashmiri indie musician’s song reminds us this summer that there is strength in surviving the winter of the pandemic. What started as a minute-long video during the 2020 lockdown went on to become a full-fledged song this summer.
Wakhlu recalls, “No one knew where the world was headed or what was going to happen the next day. It made me want to write something for people to believe in a better tomorrow, and the lyrics just flowed.” Her family and friends were treated to a minute-long sneak peek featuring the tune. They were ecstatic and asked her to create the entire song. “It prompted me to add more verses,” she reveals.
‘Song of Hope’ is one of the six songs in her new album Lessons in Love, which will be out around mid-June. They are about her experiences in the different phases of her life and what she has come to learn about herself. In May, Wakhlu had released another of the album’s tracks ‘Nice Guy’ featuring Australian artist Marcos Villalta on the guitar, Sonic Shori on bass and Kunal Netrapal on the drums. This jazz video was shot in Delhi just before the second lockdown. “It portrays different stages of a crush in a one-sided love story,” she says. Later this year, she has multiple plans—release animated music videos with Kashmiri songs and record tracks with her band The Kahwa Speaks Ensemble.
Wakhlu will also start a new healing project soon. She spent her time recovering from Covid by applying her sound-healing knowledge to create a playlist of Solfeggio frequencies, and healing chants and music from across the world. Solfeggio frequency of 528Hz is also called the Love Frequency, Miracle Tone and Frequency of Transformation, which is believed to transform and energise the body by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. The musicians of the sea call out to this girl from the land of snowy mountains. She has a fascination for whales. So much so that she contacted Hawaii-based National Geographic contributor and whale diver Karim Iliya, who shot the video for the ‘Whale Song’. Incidentally, it is India’s first indie song and music video featuring whale calls and real humpback whales in Tonga.
In this musical collaboration between artists from three different countries—the US (Iliya), India (Sonic Shori, Kunal, Keshav Dhar, Wakhlu and Bhanu Wadhawan) and Australia (Marcos Villalta)—whales are the metaphor for feelings and emotions that live under the surface of people’s minds. “If we approach our deepest fears with courage, we would often see that maybe it’s not as hard or scary as we had imagined them to be,” Wakhlyu confesses.
Earlier this month, she won two awards at the 11th Dadasaheb Phalke Awards—Best Cinematography for ‘Kahwa Speaks’ (directed and shot by Rumaan Hamdaani and Zulkarnain Dev) as well as Best Music for an Animated Music Video for ‘Katyuchuk My Love’. The latter is for Mousai, her startup that conducts workshops on voice for self-healing, and individual and partner movements through dance and chakra.
Wakhlu has been conducting sessions on wellbeing for corporates on Zoom and other online sessions. Her experience as a techie working in Infosys in both Bengaluru and the US could explain her online felicity. In the end, she quit her job to make music that heals. Just follow the tune.