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Dancing girl

Dancing girl

She considers herself “lucky” to be part of workshops conducted by the late Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. She considers herself “fortunate” to perform solo at The British Museum. And this is “only the beginning” because next on 25-year-old Koel Ghosh’s agenda are plans to set up an Odissi school in her current home, London, following marriage to UK-based doctor Arijit Ghosh.

Born and brought up in central Calcutta, dance has been the “sole driving force” in Koel’s life since she was four. “I did a junior diploma in creative style dance from Ananda Shankar Centre for Performing Arts. The five years opened my mind to various dance forms till I shifted to classical forms and took up Odissi,” says the ex-student of Modern High School and Presidency College.

More formal learning followed with exponents like Sutapa Talukdar and Rajib Bhattacharya and, of course, the “big thing” — the opportunity to learn under late Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra.

Lots of shows followed, in Calcutta and cross-country. The passion for Odissi hasn’t changed today. Only the venue has. From the likes of Rabindra Sadan, Kala Mandir and Birla Sabhagar to the likes of Oxford University, The British Museum and many more in Cardiff and Manchester.

“People in the UK are culturally aware. The awareness extends beyond the Indian communities because the Westerners are equally enthusiastic,” adds Koel.

Enthusiastic as audience and more so as students, she adds, after experiencing it during her workshops at Hillcrost Women’s College. “My batches are all foreigners who are so used to ballet… They were amazed with all the colours, costumes and hand mudras,” says Koel, who initiates her students into 10 basics steps of chaukas and tribhangis before treating them to an end-of-course performance. “Bharatanatyam and Kathak are already popular and my aim is to promote Odissi — the prettiest and the most feminine dance form,” Koel signs off.

Band of boys

This band of young musicians claims an influence as diverse as western classical to hard rock to jazz. With a mix of such diverse backgrounds, the music of Insomnia transcends watertight genres. Formed in 1999 as a South Point High School band, Insomnia started playing in English. Egged on by the success at fests and competitions, these followers of AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, the Doors and Nirvana came up with a self-produced English album called Cry of the Spirit in 2004. Two years later, they are out with their second album Proloyer Shomoye, this time in Bengali.

“Over the years, we realised that English music had a very niche audience but we wanted to get our message across to a wider audience and the way to do so was by singing in the language of the masses,” says Bodhisattwa. But this band of boys does not want to be branded as a Bangla band. “We have a good repertoire of English music and we want to continue in English as well.”

The album, launched on September 25, is reflective of the times of turmoil we are living in and gives voice to a host of issues plaguing the youth today, from the BPO boom bane to industrial claustrophobia to social loneliness. The title track Proloyer Shomoye, Nishash and Shunno are the most popular songs of the album. “Our songs talk of contemporary issues and so people are being able to relate to our music,” says Sayantan Neogi, vocalist.

Insomnia is ready to infuse the Bengali music scene with its brand of alternative music. “Our brand of music (new-age alternative) is about ‘music’ and not about making statements. It is about social issues and is much closer to life,” says Sayantan. “It is music not just straight from our heart but straight from everyone’s heart,” claims Bodhisattwa.

Insomnia is Sayantan Neogi (vocals), Rajarshi Burman (vocals/guitar), Souvik Gupta (vocals/keyboard), Bodhisattwa Ghosh (guitar/vocals), Prosenjit Chakraborty (bass) and Rohit Nandi (drums). Released by the forerunners of Bangla Band music production Asha Audio, Proloyer Shomoye has been recorded and mixed at Dream Digital Incorporated by Anirban Sengupta and Dipankar Chaki and mastered at Edensound Mastering (Melbourne, Australia).

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