Subtle, reflective and time-honoured strains from music director-lyricist duo Shantanu Moitra and Swanand Kirkire made for a leisurely and memorable After Hours at the Calcutta Literary Meet on Saturday as they got behind the mike to belt out songs theyve created together over nine years.
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, who ushered in Shantanus music in Bengali movies with Antaheen and now Aparajita Tumi, introduced the two before Shantanu and Swanand took the audience on a musical ride steered by interesting anecdotes, back stories to some of their popular songs and a few unheard melodies.
Swanand, who Shantanu described as a maatir chhele, my friend and a very nervous person, explained, What better place to showcase such a writer, lyricist, poet and dialogue writer than Calcuttas intellectual mecca, the Boi Mela.
Instead of the oft-rendered movie numbers, the duo launched into Hey sajni from Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, a 300-year-old Nathpanthi song of Madhya Pradesh and a rejected number from Parineeta called Mann mane na. The evening got merrier as the duo called on stage Antara Chowdhury, daughter of music director Salil Chowdhury (Shantanus only big musical influence) to sing Raat hamari toh from Parineeta, which was originally recorded in her voice and Yeh nigaahein, from Khoya Khoya Chand.
The evenings high point was Piyu bole where Shantanu jumped off the stage with the mike and got some pretty ladies in the audience to hum along, followed by the much-awaited live rendition of Bavra mann as the audience swayed their heads in rapt attention.
Swanand is a bachelor and he has come to Calcutta with a lot of love! So heres your chance to win him over! joked Shantanu while Swanand blushed, He says this everywhere but nothing ever happens!
The evening ended with an encore of Behti hawa sa tha woh (3 Idiots) and Anindya of Chandrabindoo being hauled up on stage to sing Bola baron from Aparajita Tumi on special request from the audience.
From Rabindrasangeet to Amake amar moton, the Sunday post-lunch session at the Calcutta Literary Meet saw Anupam Roy, Chandril Bhattacharya and Anindya Chattopadhyay come together for an adda with Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury (in picture by Anindya Shankar Ray), on Aajker Kothok: Bangla Gaaner Karigor (Bards of todays Bengal).
Bangla gaan je paat-e fela jaye, that was first proved by Suman Chattopadhyay in the 1990s, said Anindya of Chandrabindoo, dwelling on when and how Bengali music went beyond Rabindranath and Nazrul and became contemporary. It was unanimously agreed that had it not been for Suman, Anjan Dutt, Nachiketa... Bengali songs would not have evolved to a stage when people would line up to buy the CDs.
The conversation flitted between the then and now of music and was punctuated with observations like that of Chandril, also of Chandrabindoo — Lyrics relating to daily lives like mini-buses at Gariahat, or molestation at Rabindra Sarobar, are not to find a way into songs, that was the general belief. But from being offbeat, those very songs reflecting daily rituals have become mainstream today.
As the adda veered towards movies and music it saw a spirited exchange between audience and panel, with Anupam pointing out for instance that his song Amake amar… was composed independently and then incorporated into the film Autograph.
For Aniruddha, its words like Jiya-nostal (Autograph) that are now making an impact on the common man, as they cause ripples across the lyrical world of music.
It was like a breath of fresh air in my daily life full of troubles and chaos. Although today was Saraswati Puja and I had a lot of responsibilities at home, I wrapped up my work fast so that I could come and listen to Shantanu and Swanand live in performance.... I enjoyed singing along with Piyu bole.
— Anuradha Ghosh, 45, homemaker
I’ve seen such programmes on television. To see these artistes live was awesome. It was like a complete experience. I’ve never seen a live saxophone performance and I admire Shantanu Moitra because I play the guitar and keyboard too. A musical show of this kind makes the Calcutta Literary Meet special.
— Anirudh Murthy, 19, engineering student from Jadavpur University