“Zindagi” (fyi, pronounced zin-duh-gee) means life. And it starts like this: “Walk with the dreams that lie in your heart/ Don't look back, keep moving forward./ When your desires whisper a melody. / Become the voice of that song.”
We live in such dark times that Aki Kumar, whose lyrics usually lean toward the edgy and challenging, decided the world needed something closer to a kiss. But then, he’s used to upsetting expectations. Born in Mumbai, he came to the U.S. to be a software engineer—until he encountered the music of the blues. Goodbye coding, and hello, blues harmonica. It’s no game. Charlie Musselwhite has sung his praises – Aki has respect from a big dog. As Charlie put it, “Check it out. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.”
What he does with the blues is unique—he mixes them with Bollywood. He’s got to be the king of cultural mashup. “Zindagi,” as you’ll discover, is basically a reggae tune sung in Hindi, appropriately presented on a beach in Northern California as shot by the outstanding videographer Jeremiah Hutchens, who also did Aki’s singles for Sony India. But there’s no gimmick in the song. As Downbeat opined, “the integrity of his music marks the difference between novelty and substance.”
“Zindagi” comes from Little Village Foundation, a non-profit record company dedicated to shining a spotlight on music that you might not otherwise hear about—and you should definitely hear Aki. He remarked that “Zindagi” is basically “pandemic-induced creativity.” We can all use some of that.
We present alternate videos for your consideration: #1. Is the original. #2 includes English subtitles for those of us lacking Hindi. The song is available on all the usual digital platforms.