A musical conversation
As part of its ongoing endeavour to promote traditional Bangla songs, Bengal Foundation held a musical soiree at its Shilpalay (gallery) in Dhanmondi last Thursday evening. This instalment of “Pranner Khela” -- a monthly programme -- was sponsored by Eastern Bank Ltd.
Aditi Mohsin and Anup Barua were the featured artistes.
The gallery was packed. Audience included music enthusiasts -- young, middle aged and elderly -- all sitting on the floor, to accommodate a maximum number of people. The setting was essentially 'baithaki.' The interaction between the artistes and the audience was direct and the performances were more like musical conversations.
Aditi Mohsin, a virtuoso Rabindra Sangeet singer, was the first to perform. After a somewhat uninspiring start -- with renditions of “Bohey nirantar anandadhara” and “Ratri eshey jethaye meshey,” Aditi's performance picked up with “Biraho madhur holo aaji.” Perhaps, it was the warmth of tea that the artiste's susceptible voice needed -- joked an elderly member of the audience.
True or not, from that point on the audience was fully engaged as the artiste cast her melodic spell. Aditi went over the inspiration behind the songs. Talking about “Ogo amar chiro achena pardeshi,” the artiste mentioned Victoria Ocampo who according to many was a muse to Tagore. The artiste however, inadvertently perhaps, referred to Ocampo as an “English” elite. Ocampo was an Argentine intellectual.
Aditi's next rendition “Bhalobeshey shakhi nibhritey jataney” confirmed that Tagore's lyrics rise beyond the territories of genres and themes. Though labelled as a 'kirtan,' the song could just as well be a universal ode to love. Lines marking genres fade as devotion to the divinity is manifested in affection for one's beloved -- that is the USP of the bard's verses.
“Dibash rajani ami jeno kaar ashaye ashaye thaki” (from the play “Mayar Khela”) denoted the bittersweet anticipation of love. “Bo(n)dhu kon alo laglo chokhey” (from the play “Chitrangada”) became an immaculate imagery of one hit by Cupid's arrow, or it could just be the coming of age of a soul.
After Aditi it was Anup Barua's turn. An accomplished Nazrul Sangeet artiste and classical music teacher, Anup started with a rendition of “Anjali laho more.” Unfortunately, the 'tabla' was seemingly having trouble accommodating the singer. Despite that, the artiste managed to wow the audience with his outstanding vocal abilities, improvisation of 'alaap' and flawless execution of even the smallest details.
Anup reminisced on the late cultural personality and activist Waheedul Haque and dedicated his rendition of the Nazrul song “Shunyo e bukey pakhi mor” to his memory. Next was another Nazrul Sangeet in the 'bhatiyali' form, “Amar sampan jaatri na loy.”
Anup’s repertoire also included a range of semi-classical songs -- his forte. The artiste sang “Amakey ashtey boley” and “Kaar torey nishi jago Rai” (which sounded curiously like the well-recognised Wajed Ali Shah 'thumri,' “Babul mora”).
The artiste then moved on to oldies and 'adhunik' Bangla songs with “kader kuler bou.” An ardent fan of Niaz Mohammad Chowdhury, Anup also performed “Aaj ei brishtir kanna” (made famous by Chowdhury in the '80s). Other songs included an SD Burman classic “Borney gandhey chhandey geetitey” and an Ajoy Chakraborty song “Madhu lagan boye jaye.”
The concert ended with a rendition of a 'Raaga Mishra Paharai' based composition.