Ranjit Dewan is a renowned Chakma singer, lyricist and composer. He is considered one of the most successful Chakma musicians of all time. His songs ‘O Mor Sonar Dechsan’, ‘O Lokkobi O Chittibi’, ‘Mo Nangan Nonyeram’, ‘O Hala Hogil’, ‘Nosang Jebari Jagaan Sari’ and ‘Jodi Honodin Eedot Udhe’ are evergreen, heart touching tunes.
The melodious and rhythmic song Chenge Meyoni Hajolong Karnaphuli, Shankha Matamuhuri is an all-time popular Ranjit Dewan composition. Legendary singer-musician Lucky Akhand recorded the Bangla version of the song, while Ranjit Dewan rendered the original Chakma song. Renowned artist-filmmaker Khalid Mahmood Mithu created the music video for the song that was aired on Bangladesh Television many times.
In a recent conversation with The Daily Star, the extremely humble artiste shared many things with the correspondent. Ranjit Dewan’s passion for music dates back to his early childhood days. When he was a student in third grade, little Ranjit was barred from entering a cultural programme that was held at the Kotwali Thana of Rangamati. The incident left a permanent trauma on his psyche. He promised himself that he will sing someday once he grows up.
The God-gifted artiste has kept his words with writing, composing and singing hundreds of Chakma songs that evoke patriotism, nostalgia, romance, melancholy, bliss of the harvesting time of Jum, love for untainted hilly landscapes and nature, vibrant indigenous cultures and diverse socio-religious aspects.
He took musical lessons from Surendra Laal Tripura, Kalyan Mitra Barua, Himangshu Dutta and Suniti Bikash Barua. “I have just tried to take a few sips of melody from the vast ocean of music. Many of my songs have been lost due to toiling curfews in the hill tracts years ago,” said Ranjit Dewan, who earnestly seeks everyone’s assistance in preserving his songs. “In the Chakma language, there are certain complexities that have to be gauged while writing and composing songs. I hope that the younger generation of Chakma singers will work in this regard to nourish our own language and culture.”
Contemporary singers Tripti Talukdar, Shahana Dewan, Nilufa Dewan, Kalayan Chakma, Subrata Chakma, Bachchu Chakma, Ananya Chakma, Jinuka Chakma, Jayanti Chakma, Saurav Dewan, Anamika Dey, Ripon Ghosh, Bidyut Shankar Tripura amongst others are performing the songwriter’s tracks far and wide. “I sincerely hope that the upcoming generation of Chakma singers will excel in musical practice and perseverance. They will glorify our distinctive culture in front of the world. If I had financial support, I would nurture their talents personally,” said Ranjit Dewan.
Ranjit Dewan has two solo audio albums and a solo music video album to his credit. He has also lent his voice for recording six other albums featuring religious songs. Bangladeshi Adivasi Forum has recently taken initiative of publishing a compilation of Ranjit Dewan’s compositions. The artiste has shared his best wishes on World Indigenous Day with hopes to build a harmonious society full of life and colours.