Anil Bheem’s passing and the thousands that came out to give him a massive farewell confirm
that the genre of crossover music that has evolved over the years has found a place in the hearts
and souls of the community and nation at large.
I was happy to see all his fellow artistes on stage along with personnel from the 103 FM family
where Anil worked for thirty years lending their support to the bereaved family. The presence of
the Opposition Leader, Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament, the Mayor of
Chaguanas and other VIPs was testimony of the contribution that Anil Bheem has made to the
evolution of this genre of music.
The Bheem/Bissoon family like the Sookraj, the Chunilal, the Ramnarine, the Yankaran,
Mahabir, the Dindial etc, has labored in the field for generations. No one can forget the
contribution of the Kazana Orchestra of El Dorado led by Premnath Bissoon with his other
siblings-Latchman, Kishore Krishendath, Mukesh and Prematie, the mother of Anil, on tow.
Indian artistes, despite the naked resistance from the State, have kept our culture alive from the
first day the Fatel Rozack landed in the shores of Trinidad in 1845. The attempts by the colonial
State to deny the celebration of Hosay in 1885, resulted in 17 Indians being killed from gun
bullets from the colonial police force and scores of others being injured, many dying
The Creole Society led by the PNM persisted with this discriminatory policy of the State after
independence in 1962. The first Prime Minister bemoaned that there was no Mother India,
Mother Africa or China…he was indirectly appealing to the Indians to shun their cultural roots
which was viewed as a hindrance to national development by the new dispensation while the
cultural aspiration of Creole Society was European.
Today the pioneering role of crossover music is reaching out to the youths. Indians can now
successfully remodel their past music while not losing its essence. Sundar Popo pioneered
innovation by combining local dialect with Bhojpuri brought by our ancestors. This innovation
continued with our cross over bands like Karma, Dil-e-Nadan, BMRZ and others.
Anil’s biggest hit “The Indian National Anthem” is the essence of crossover music. It is not
discarding the old but repackaging it to suit the demands of the time. This popular number –
Suhanee Raat-originally sung by Mohammed Rafi from the movie Dularie and appreciated and
loved by the older generation, has now been refashioned- spiced up-for the younger audience to
appreciate. No wonder this song now enjoys more than 3.3 million views on Utube, a record for
our local artistes!
Anil Bheem was singing the music that provided us with something to call our own. The Indian
community recognized his contribution and hence their presence in their thousands at his home,
Divali Nagar and the Caroni Cremation Site on Thursday last for his funeral.
For far to long we have seen the State showering praises and recognition on creole artistes while
marginalizing the contribution of our Indian artistes. Thanks to social media the contribution of
Anil Bheem and Moonilal “Tole’ Ramnarine, a pioneer of the original Dil-e-Nadan, could not be
suppressed and denied.
Anil Bheem’s passing has confirmed that the Indian community has its icons as much as the
Creole Society has theirs. The turn out by our artistes, thousands of fans and our politicians to
pay their last respects and tributes to Anil Bheem was a confirmation of that reality.