The history of Bengali songs dates back to the 12th century when, Laxman Sen, the last ruler of the mighty Sen Dynasty, appointed Jaydeb as his court poet. Jaydeb was a gifted man and his songs on the love of Radha and Krishna are still very much relevant. However, with the passage of time people of Bengal grew more and more inclined towards poetry and songs and throughout the next millennium several Bengali lyricists and composers worked on different genres of songs. But it was not until the introduction of Gramaphone in 1902 that songs became a part of day to day life.
Keeping up with time is always essential in order to avoid fading away into the oblivion and Bengali composers have done it very successfully. 1930’s saw the evolution of the Bengali Adhunik Gaan or Bengali Modern Songs that differ from conventional pastoral or religious songs in more ways than one. But, come the 1970’s, these songs somewhere seemed to be an escape from the reality that the youth of that era were very much attached to. This gave rise to the need of speaking of the real life things in a straightforward way, ultimately leading to the birth of Moheener Ghoraguli, India’s first rock music band, in 1976. It was in fact the birth of the Bangal Band culture, a culture that was inspired from the western society, yet more connected to the roots than anything else.
Moheener Ghoraguli opened up a new vista for the Bengali audience who were searching for something different for quite some time. However, the band failed to hold on for long and dissolved after a few years, but not before changing Bengali music once and for all. In the 90’s several Bangla Bands came into existence— the most notable of them are Chandrabindoo, Bhoomi and Fossils. While Chandrabindoo and Fossils concentrate on Bengali Rock Music, Bhoomi emphasis on folk fusion. All the bands have emerged to be hugely popular not only in Bengal but also overseas where there is a considerable Bengali population.
The first few years of the new millennium also saw the birth of more than one Bengali music bands like Insomnia, Dohar and Madal. Insomnia has strictly kept itself confined within the realm of New Age Rock Songs while both Dohar and Madal are associated with the folk songs of Bengal. Bengali music bands have an audience base that ranges from teenagers to retired people.
The main reason behind the popularity of the Bangla Bands is that their music is really very simple and people connect with the lyrics easily. In most of the cases the songs, unlike conventional Bengali modern songs, are a manifestation of what a person faces in daily life. Right from the absence of the house maid to taking care of skin, from the shrinking of the society to the lost days of childhood, each and every aspect of life is presented in a simple, candid and sometimes in a satirical way. The Bengali music bands, nowadays perform all over the world, thus taking Bengali music to a new level and giving it a better exposure. In the last two decades the Bengali music industry has been changed to a large extent and it is the Bangla Bands that are chiefly responsible for that.
The author is an ardent follower of the Band Culture of Bengal and is a columnist with leading dailies of the country.