The volume of poetry and music Tagore created is astonishing. And although many of them appear quite clear in expressions, every Tagore connoisseur have found new meanings folded within the most familiar of songs, when listening to them at a different time. And what better time there is to celebrate the bard's creations in all its grandeur, than his birthday? It was no surprise that a number of organisations had chalked out programmes to mark the 153rd birth anniversary of Tagore, but there was one that drew more people than others.
There are few centres of arts and music in the country that hold Rabindranath closer, and express him better -- than Chhayanaut. There were no posters on the walls or any excessive publicity to be seen around the building or in the locality, nor were there any major advertisements, but veteran Tagore fans knew where to be on May 8 and 9, and so the Chhayanaut auditorium still filled up to the brim, even before the programme started on the first day. People of all ages – from barely-able-to-walk elderly women to 10-year old boys, all dressed up for the occasion, swayed to the music on offer.
And it was also Chhayanaut's approach to the programme that made it so pleasant. There was no unnecessary flourish anywhere; be it the stage, lighting, or the agenda of the evening.
The background, in plain yellow, showed just a portrait of Gurudev and a verse in his handwriting, and a minimalistic stage arrangement looked elegant and sombre. There were no lengthy speeches by any invited guests, just a brief welcome address by General Secretary Khairul Anam Shakil, preceded by a choral song and group dance, and followed by solo songs, recitation and a solo song and dance piece. And be it Mita Haq's sweet voice singing the ever-familiar “Amar Bela Je Jay” or Shipra Talukdar from Comilla performing a much-lesser-known “Toree Amar Hothat Dubey Jay”, be it veterans like Sajed Akbar or young blood like Shemonti Monjari singing, or the booming voice of Syed Hasan Imam echoing “Opomaane Hote Hobe Tahader Shoba'r Shoman”, it was the essence of Tagore in earnest, and nothing more.
As the evening progressed, the audience swelled over capacity, but nobody complained at being crammed for space or even having to stand in the back. The humidity in the air caught up as the air-conditioners failed to cope with the overload. Anybody barely noticed. The words and melodies of Tagore, presented right, would do that to anybody.
The second day of the festival -- supported by telecom operators Grameenphone, also featured solo and choral songs, dance and recitation yesterday at the same venue.