Ram Kanai Das' rendition of folk songs
Nowadays launch of a music albums invariably include live renditions by respective artistes. Sometimes these live performances stand out and become the main attraction at these events.
Ram Kanai Das is not a “hit” artiste, at least not to the young, urban listeners. His accomplishments as a khayal singer have been lauded by the critics and connoisseurs. Prior to the launch of his latest folk album, “Oshomoye Dhorlam Pari”, on January 10, noted cultural personality Kamal Lohani asserted that he is well aware of Das' achievements as a classical singer but had never heard the artiste's rendition of folk songs before.
The launch and a musical programme featuring Das took place at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Bengal Foundation has produced the album, which is the third folk album by the octogenarian artiste. His other albums areL “Shurdhunir Kinarae” (also from Bengal) and “Pagla Majhi” (Laser Vision).
The audience was modest at a venue that usually gets packed during Rabindra Sangeet performances.
Folk music flows in Das' blood. The veteran artiste's parents -- Rashik Lal Das and Dibyamoyi Das -- were well known rural bards of the greater Sylhet region. Like previous albums, the latest project also features some numbers composed by his parents. They are: the title track “Oshomoye Dhorlam Pari”, “Guru Bina Hoy Na”, “Monchora Kaliare” and “Ailare Nua Jamai”. It also features compositions by other reputed bards such as Hason Raja, Radharamon Dutta and Shitalong Fakir.
Das has a unique style that combines elements of both classical and folk music. Classical music -- to him -- is passion, and folk, his identity. Perhaps because of this rare combination of interests, his singing invokes divinity.
For example, when he was rendering the song “E Bhabo Shangsharey Rey” [from “Pagla Majhi”], he was pronouncing the words “Oh Monore…Ingala Pingala Ghar…” convincingly. His voice floated somewhere between the intensity of a rural bard and a polished urban-folk singer. It was in between these two styles that could be labelled as his signature, and a gift to Bangla folk music.
As a hardcore exponent of folk music, Das tried to introduce the genre's different aspects at the programme. Starting with a toppa of Hari Acharya, “Aae Shon Shojoni”, he further sang his father's bichchhedi, “Shokoler Shakoli Achhey Go”, and Azim Fakir's marefati, “Amar Mon Mojo Rey” and “Allah Sabur Korlam”.
Perhaps to further demonstrate the uniqueness of his style, Das introduced his younger brother Sudhir Lal Das -- an amateur singer from Sumanganj -- to the audience. The rural singer sang a couple of Radharaman Dutta numbers, “Amar Bairam Bairam Korey” and “Shona Bondhure Tor Shone”.
Sudhir's raw vocal styling went down well with the instrumentalists Gazi Abdul Hakim (on flute), Pinu Sen Das (table), Babu (dhol), Almas Ali (violin) and Iftekhar Hossain (keys). However, at times the instrumentalists almost paused during Sudhir's performance, as they didn't want to hamper a rendering that could only be achieved by staying true to the roots.