Despite the family background, I have had an arm’s distance engagement with Robbie T. Some examples were films of Satyajit Ray (Charulata, Ghare Bhaire, Teen Kanya) or the occasional Hindi / Bengali film like Kabuliwala. And of course, our national anthem.
In terms of music too, my engagement has been indirect mostly through Hindi film songs based on Robbi T tunes. Recently though I kind of had this urge to rediscover Robindrashongeet. It happened when I was setting a quiz question on Kishore Kumar singing Ami Chini Go Chini Tomare in Charulata.
I was greatly interested in understanding how Ray, a self-proclaimed aficionado of classical music who preferred working with Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ud. Vilayat Khan and Beum Akhtar, came to be working with Kishore Kumar.
When in Kolkata recently, I went to MusicWorld on Park Street and decided to explore the appropriate music shelves. I picked up a lot of stuff including a fascinating piece “Tomar Akash Tomar Batash“. A compilation of a radio series hosted by Soumitra Chatterjee, it presents, in 3 CDs, a number of classic numbers sung by legends like Hemanta and Dwijen. The third CD featured RobindroShongeet influences in the movies of Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. The above song is one example.
The story goes, as narrated by Soumitra, that Kishore Kumar, a favourite of Ray, was busy but greatly interested in doing the song for Ray. So he convinced Ray to come to Bombay and do the recording. Ray had his wife Bijoya sing it and he took the tape to Kishore. Listening to the tape, Kishore sang the song to the accompaniment of only a piano. The piano piece is played by Ray himself.
20 years later, Kishore Kumar would do another song for Ray and Soumitra in Ghare Bhaire. The high energy, acapella song Bidhir badhon, a performance that is guaranteed to draw out those goosebumps every time.
And this song from Meghe Dhaka Tara which is significantly elevated by the performance of the on-screen actors and Ghatak’s filmwork, the black and white night time scene giving a different pathos to it.
There are many more songs with interesting stories. More in later posts as and when I have time. I shall close this post with this ever popular number based on the tune of Auld Lang Syne. (Hemanta singing in this Uttam Kumar flick Agnishwar)