Coke Studio Bangla: Latin and Nazrul’s harmonious entanglement
It is difficult to maintain even a semblance of neutrality when a song bewitches you from the second it starts playing – that is what Coke Studio Bangla's newest release, "Bulbuli", did to my 'trained' musical ear. On the first day of the Bengali New Year, the musical production paid a perfect homage to our National Poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam.
The song's avant-garde marriage to a Latin style was led by guitarist Shuvendu Das Shuvo. On witnessing the finesse that he played with, one cannot help but discard the excuse that musicians have to be 'imported' from outside for such programmes, because ours are not 'professional' enough. Shuvo mesmerises one and all with his barrage of notes, and mind you, no nonsensical shred here – only a fascinating display of flamenco-style playing.
The lead singer for the piece, Ritu Raj, is an artiste with true pedigree, whose potential our music industry is yet to fulfil.
Bagichay Bulbuli Tui, Ful Shakhate Disne Aaji Dol,
Ajo tar ful kulider ghum tuteni, tundra te bilol
Flower in the garden, on flower boughs, don't you swing today
The flower buds sleep, in slumberous disarray
As Ritu Raj opens with his controlled, tempered voice, the production immediately hits a sweet spot, accompanied by a swing like none other. Pantho Kanai maintains his signature groovy percussions, while completely immersing himself in the song, which is further uplifted by the brass sections.
As the section slowly moves towards its climax, a completely original song built from the ground-up appears, voiced by Nandita. The singer, known for her vocal arpeggios and versatility, shows great restraint in this segment.
While fitting with the vibe, it did feel like the restraint was unwarranted at certain places, and a more open voice could have greatly benefited the production.
One place where Coke Studio Bangla greatly improved is its video editing. While I had noticeable complaints regarding the video production of the last two songs, clever editing and angles salvaged this one, and it was an icing on top for the excellent "Bulbuli".
Along with curator and producer Shayan Chowdhury Arnob, the composer for the song Shuvendu Das Shuvo deserves full credit for this masterpiece. Shuvo is arguably the biggest rising star in this season of Coke Studio Bangla.
As for Ritu Raj, the only way for him is forwards. After being shot into fame with a musical competition, the singer has consistently proved his mettle throughout the years. Ritu, along with his brother Prithwi Raj, were considered to be one of the most talented musical duos in the industry. While Prithwi Raj tragically passed away in 2019 due to a cardiac arrest, something tells me that he is watching his brother from the heavens, with a smile plastered around his face.