Tag Archives: bengali-songs

Bangla Bands: The New Genre of Bengali Music

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.

Tagore the Painter; The Bard’s Myriad Expressions

Rabindranath Tagore was a multi-faceted personality. He made a major contribution in the field of literature of not only Bengal but also on the national level. Poems, short stories, novels, dance dramas, essays- he has written them all. One aspect of the Bard that is less spoken about is Tagore the Painter, though his paintings were as classic as his literary masterpieces. He made his contribution in the painting scenario also. He opened the “Kala Bhavan” which made a great mark in the history of painting in Bengal. Born and brought up in a family which laid great emphasis on music, painting and literature, the Bard was also influenced by this medium. After starting the Viswa Bharati University in Shantiniketan, he went on to open the art wing known as “Kala Bhavan”. This wing was set up immediately after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

The evolution of an original idea which will reflect the creative expression of the students was the main aim of Kala Bhavan. He even invited painters like Nandalal Bose to run this art wing at Viswa Bharati University. In 1930, Tagore first emerged as a painter in France. This was not unexpected as he had long and lengthy discussions with Romain Rolland. Rolland was a Nobel Laureate. In his book “Inde- Journal” he mentioned that Tagore did not like red color. The dominance of the color red in the paintings by the Italian Painters did not appeal much to Tagore. Violet, blue and green were the most preferred colors for the Bard. French poet and Nobel laureate Saint John Perse was another individual with whom Tagore had eloquent discussions on art.

Tagore never received any formal training in arts. This became an advantage for him. He opened up new horizons for his painting and used line and colors to express him independently. Within a decade of starting painting, he produced over 2500 paintings and sketches. About 1500 of them are preserved at Shantiniketan. Darkeness and mystery were explored much in his paintings. Since he was not bound by any traditions, he could give free reigns to his thoughts.

The self portraits for example were highly representative of his style. Many art critics feel that the self portraits show the search for a self within Tagore. Attracted to primitive art style, these portraits were examples of excellence. Silence gains huge momentum in his paintings. A sense of surrealism and myriad emotions also have an important place in the paintings by Tagore.

It was in 1931 that Tagore held an exhibition of his paintings in Kolkata. This was a year after the exhibition in Paris. German students were highly fascinated by Tagore’s surrealistic touch in his paintings.

Tagore’s contribution to literature and music is unparalleled, but his contribution to painting is equally important. To quote the Bard “The world speaks to me in colors, my soul answers in music”.


Priyanka Dutta

Manna Dey Songs Popular with the Srilankan Audience Too

Manna Dey, the legendary singer who died at the age of 94 mesmerized the audiences not only in the Indian sub-continent, but his popularity was also equal in the neighboring country of Sri Lanka. The language never became a barrier for this legendary singer whose voice alone melted the hearts of the listeners. The singer gained widespread popularity with the song “Buddham Saranam Gachchami” in the island country. This was the song which was part of the film Angulimala. This particular song had enhanced the prestige of the singer among the common people in the country as well as among the Sinhala Buddhists. The song was composed by music director Anil Biswas. The song “Buddham Saranam Gachchami” is a representative of the soul of this sect of Buddhist followers. The song was dubbed in the Sinhala dialect in the year 1962. This was also the same time around which the original film Angulimala was dubbed in the Sinhala language. A popular Sri Lankan singer by the name of Mohideen Baig lent his voice for the Sinhala version of the same song. After the Sinhala version was out, the song was on the lips of the young and the old alike in Sri Lanka. Karunaratna Abeysekera wrote the lyrics for the Sinhala language. He was a famous poet and an eminent lyricist. This heightened the importance of the songs immensely among the people in this country. The theme of the film Angulimala had also created a place in the hearts of the Sri Lankan audience. This is simply because the film was about Lord Buddha. The film showed how Lord Buddha transformed a robber and a murderer and made them follow the path of righteousness. The song also shows the broad outlook of the people in this country. The song has been sung by an Indian who is a Hindu by religion- Manna Dey. The Sinhala version however had been sung by a Muslim from Tamil Nadu- Mohideen Baig. Manna Dey songs started gaining popularity after this Buddhist religious song was appreciated by the audience in the country. The Sinhalese versions of the singer’s songs in Hindi films began to be made available in the form of CDs and tapes. The songs are even performed now at the various cultural occasions and events. The Sinhalese versions of the Manna Dey songs even garner hits and likes on You Tube from the listeners. Even today at every religious function, this song in the Sinhala version is played. The vast importance of the song can be understood in this way. This also shows why the late Manna Dey gained so much popularity in this country. Language did not pose a barrier. Music overcame every barrier and created a place for him in the hearts of the people.

Priyanka Dutta