Music in Jail: Song from Central Jail, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh: Tinka Tinka Foundation

By Stuti Garg

“ज़ुबां बंद है
पलकें भीगीं
सच मुट्ठी में
पढ़ा आसमान ने
मैं अपने पंख खुद बनूंगी
हां, मैं थी. हूं..और हमेशा रहूंगी..”

(This poem is extracted from the book “Thee. Hoon..Rahungi…”written by  Vartika Nanda in 2012.)

Shyam Bai, a woman inmate who spent 20 years in jail, has something to look forward to in her life beyond the walls. Tinka Tinka Foundation Tinka Tinka Foundation Website has released a song, for the world to bear witness to this dedication to women in prison. Song by Shyam Bai  Shyam Bai was released from prison at the age of 60 in September 2023. The happiness derived from her release is enhanced with the launch of her song. This song is a culmination of the unflinching strength and spirit she possessed, even within the confines of the jail barrack.

To take a quick trip down memory lane, Shyam Bai was a folk singer who had already released two music albums of her own. She had a passion for the world of tunes and was slowly yet steadily working on establishing herself in the field. But her budding career came to a standstill in 2013, when she was imprisoned for life in Central Jail, Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh). Even so, she never lost her passion towards music, dreaming of a day when she could reconnect with her art.

After a long period of waiting, that dream finally came true in 2017. Inspiration came in the form of a part from ‘Thee. Hoon..Rahungi…’- a collection of poetry by Vartika Nanda, published in 2012 by Rajkamal Prakashan. The iconic words from this book have been painted on the walls of several jails across the country. The essence of the poem, based on the life of a woman in jail, resonated with Shyam Bai. Prison reformer and media educator Dr. Vartika Nanda sent this poem to Shyam Bai, which she happily composed.

Using small stone pieces, she created an accompanying melody for the soulful words. Encouragement from SS Tigaa, then Superintendent, helped in the process. She rendered it as a captivating song which was released on 17th April, 2017. She was present amongst the inmates who watched her voice come alive that day. Bilaspur Song by Shyam Bhai | Tinka Tinka Foundation

Tinka Tinka Foundation has released several such musical renditions in the past, ever since Tinka Tinka Foundation has established prison radios in different jails. This includes a song by Sheru, an inmate lodged in Central Jail, Ambala. He became an overnight sensation with the release of his song, which was based on Covid-19. Tinka Tinka Jail Radio: Ep 17:Tinka Foundation Day, Sheru & Former Inmates – YouTube

TTF has released more than a dozen songs from different prisons of Haryana. Number of such creations have attracted global attention, including the song sung by an inmate, Kashish, incarcerated in District Jail, Panipat. Panipat Jail Radio Revolution। Brut। Year 2022। Vartika Nanda – YouTube In continuation of this, the signature tune of Tinka Tinka Jail Podcast was synthesised by an inmate lodged in District Jail, Dehradun. Dr. Suchit Narang, a visually impaired inmate, was a music teacher before he was imprisoned. He, along with 2 other inmates have been made an integral part of the Tinka Tinka Foundation. Tinka Tinka Theme Song

Links: Music in Jail by TTF Jail Music – Tinka Tinka Prison Reforms

Music in Jail: Podcast

Tinka Jail Radio Episode 26 | Hisar Jail Song

Tinka Tinka Jail Radio podcasts are the only podcasts in India, catering to prison reforms. These podcasts have been conceived by Tinka Tinka Foundation (TTF). Dr. Vartika Nanda is the Founder of TTF. Tinka Tinka Foundation is a public charitable trust dedicated to prison reforms in India. The organisation utilises multiple platforms to create awareness and bring change to the living conditions in jails through Tinka Tinka books, music, Tinka jail radio, and the establishment of Tinka Tinka Prison Research Cell.