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Power of words

What is Rupam On The Rocks all about?

It’s a radio show in print. It’s like a chat show, where I am talking to my listeners about my poems, my essays, about my thoughts. I had a lot of unpublished poetry, lyrics, essays and articles. Then there are the behind-the-songs stories. With all that, I have put together Rupam On The Rocks in such a manner that it doesn’t require any index. It is linked from the very first page to the last, quite like a journey. It’s like a concept album. There are various topics and poetry and it is distributed into a few basic segments. It is not a conventional book.

How did you arrive at this concept?

While hosting Rupam On The Rocks (on Friends FM), I was writing regularly for the show. I had to write about the day’s topic, relate that topic to my own experience, pick songs, answer letters and text messages. It morphed into an informal adda, which I was hosting on a regular basis. With all this, I established a connection with my listeners. There was a following for this adda. So when the show ran out after 10 months, it did not actually end there. It was an entity in my mind; my listeners were asking for more. Adda bandha hoye ni, mone monei cholchhilo.

You started writing for the book then?

Yes. A month after the show was over, I got in touch with Ananda Publishers and told them about my concept. This is a direct interaction with my audience, my listeners. This kind of book has not been written in Bengali. Apart from writing songs, every artiste requires space to write his thoughts, to say what he feels. Where can he say that? This is not only a book; it is a show.

Do we get to know Rupam better through the book?

There’s a segment in the book called “Nijeke Niye Nijey Besh Achhi.” That’s where the book actually starts. Then I turn towards nature, where I talk about nature as an inspiration. That is actually an introduction to my songs, like Aaro ekbaar cholo phirey jai, paharer oi buketey darai. I also talk about love. With “Mukhoshi Mukh”, I come back to myself. There is a section explaining why I have used certain spellings the way I have and call it “Bikrito Banaaner Khoppore”. And then there is “Amar Uttar”, my reactions to different issues.

How important is the look of the book?

It’s a very visual book. Amitabha Chandra of Unish Kuri designed it and I gave my inputs. The songs, the essays have all been composed in an attractive manner.

Might it be too early to come up with such a book?

This is not an autobiography, but is as autobiographical as my songs. Just like my songs, this book came to me spontaneously. I didn’t have to stop and think what to write. I am actually a writer; I am a singer out of compulsion. If anybody else could express my songs, my way, then I wouldn’t have become a singer. I think by writing the book, I’m doing justice to my writer self.

So there’s quite a lot happening this year…

Yes, Fossils is celebrating its 10th year in 2009. This book is a part of the celebration. We formed Fossils around end-1998 and did our first show in 1999. Fossils 3 is on its way. the fan club Fossils Force will be officially launched soon. A new website is also in the pipeline.

Are you emotional about coming out with a book at the Calcutta Book Fair?

I had first visited the Book Fair to sell little magazines. Not to buy books, not to sing songs. In 2006, my book Epitaph, which was a song book, had come out at the mela and it did very well. Yes, the Book Fair launch is special.

What’s up with Rupam the singer?

Lots of Bengali playback singing. There is Piyalir Password, set to Bickram Ghosh’s music; Kanchhan Babu with Indradeep Dasgupta. Then there is Ichhey; I’ll be making an appearance in the film as well. There are films like Shabdhan Pancha Ashchhey, directed by Arin Paul and Madly Bengali, directed by Anjan Dutt. And then there’s Olot Palot; a Swapan Saha movie where I have sung a rock song for Rocket Mondal — which I think is quite an achievement! Talks are on for a Hindi album. But my first priority is Fossils 3.

Madhuparna Das
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