A ‘Gaanwala’ takes Dhaka audience on a musical journey
Renowned Kolkata-based singer-songwriter Kabir Suman -- known to his fans in Bangladesh and India as 'Gaanwala' -- performed at a solo concert on October 16 at the auditorium of Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB). The artiste's recent visit has been a much talked about issue among the music aficionados of the city over the last few days, as it had generated some misunderstanding between the organisers of the show and theatre activists. The organisers had to change the venue -- from National Theatre Hall to IEB -- a couple of days before the show.
This was Suman's second concert in last two years. Last year, the artiste performed at the auditorium of National Museum. Chirkut was the organiser of both events. Suman assured at the concert that whenever people of Bangladesh would invite him, he would come and perform.
With a piano on the stage and a classical guitar in hands, Suman started singing "Bondhura chhara jeno ei gaan keu na shoney". Those, who have witnessed Suman's live performances before, were well aware of his spontaneity on the stage. In between songs, his informal chitchat with the audience is another noticeable trait. However, at the beginning of this mid-October concert, he seemed a bit weary.
"I'm getting old and I can't seem to remember things like I used to. Sometimes I forget lyrics of my own songs," said Suman, now in his early 60s, after rendering "Ek phali megh, ek pho(n)ta jol".
Suman first performed in Dhaka in 1996. After that though he visited and performed here on several occasions, this was his third solo act. Suman's father Shudhindranath Chattopadhyay was one of the first employees of Dhaka Betar Kendra during the British rule.
"My father passed away in 1993 and I first came to Dhaka in 1996. My father never got know that I'm coming here," said the artiste.
"Shanghati-tai nishan hoye thak" -- a song he composed a day before the show -- was dedicated to the Bangladeshi audience.
The concert featured around 25 songs. Lesser-known songs of the artiste were in the limelight. Among his popular numbers, Suman sang "Cactus," "Tumi chhile Hafiz-er prothom premika," "Tomakey abhibadon" and "Haal chhero na bondhu". It should be mentioned that "Tomakey abhibadon" is an adaptation of Shahid Kadri's poem.
At the concert Suman also rendered four Tagore songs, including "Mukhokhani koro molin bidhur" and "Ki paini tar-i hishab melatey." Suman started his taalim (training) with Indian classical and Rabindra Sangeet. He has also recorded albums of Rabindra Sangeet.
"Rabindranath's songs have always mesmerised me. I cannot escape that appeal," said Suman.
Among his lesser-known songs, Suman rendered "Shuprabhat bishonnota," "Tomaye chharai bachbo ami, "Buker moddhey uthal pathal" and "Bashanter dekho dekho rong". According to the artiste, the last number is one of his best creations.
Throughout the performance, Suman randomly changed instruments. He performed a couple of songs with guitar, and then a few while playing the piano. The programme wrapped up with a piano prelude followed by Suman's "Jatiswar" and a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne".