New-age Nazrul, promised an album that was launched recently at Starmark, South City, in the presence of Nazrul Islam’s family.
“A lot of experimentation is being done with Tagore but none with Nazrul. We need to take him to the next generation,” said Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee, who helped Canada-based singer Mousumi Roy put the album together and did the narration with Pranati Tagore. The singing has remained traditional but Ratul Shankar has tinkered with the musical arrangement.
“I have used a mix of Indian and western instruments and a lesser-known Persian wind instrument called duduk for the background score,” said the young percussionist.
The album title, Amar Saki, deserves attention. “Saki is an Arabic word for a teenaged boy who would serve wine at gatherings. So it carries overtones of camaraderie and fondness. You see it a lot in Omar Khayyam. Nazrul used the word in many of his ghazal-based compositions,” explained the album’s scriptwriter Arun Kumar Basu, who is also Nazrul’s biographer.
Basu mentioned a Rabindrasangeet where the word has been used as well — Aponhara matoara achhi tomar asha dhore/ Ogo saki debe naki peyala mor bhore bhore.
“A drinks party is quite unique in a Tagore song. He possibly wrote it in 1926 for a film version of Madhu Bose’s Dalia, which never took off,” he added.
A scene from Tenida and Kombol Niruddesh staged at Gyan Manch. Picture by Arnab Mondal
Tenida, the Salman
Gyan Manch staged the opening show of Tenida and Kombol Niruddesh, a play by Kolkata RomROMA, on July 18. The fun started even before the opening scene, with a request song on keeping the cellphone in silent mode.
Running one-and-a-half-hours, the play was co-directed by Rahul Roy and Anuvab Dasgupta. Though true to Tenida’s typical north Calcutta setting, it had a contemporary touch too, showing the increase in criminal activities in our society and pointing subtly to the flaws in our education system.
Rahul, who played Tenida as well, was no less than Salman Khan, what with his dadagiri and his dance to lyrics like Mere photo ko seene se yaar chipka le saiyan chokher jol se!
Tenida’s friends — Satyaki Tat as Pyalaram, Jeet Das as Kyabla and Biman Chandra as Habul — helped him crack the case of the niruddesh kombol (missing blanket) and kept the audience in splits.
The dialogue was a mix of Bengali and English, with a curious dash of Hindi songs played by a live band. “We chose Hindi songs to show the present picture of our para,” said music director Akash Chakrabarty.
Amit Chaudhuri (left), Anjum Katyal and Patrick French at Oxford Bookstore.
Picture by Anindya Shankar Ray
The write way
The nuances of non-fiction writing made for a lively chat on July 20 between authors Patrick French and Amit Chaudhuri, co-organised by Oxford Bookstore at its Park Street address along with British Council India.
Moderated by writer-editor Anjum Katyal, the conversation dwelled on current non-fiction writings, what drew the two authors to this genre and the question of fact-checking and ethics.
“I would say the golden history of non-fiction was the second half of the 20th century. Of course that cannot be replicated since the materials are not the same,” said French.
Chaudhuri pointed out that India had a rich tradition in non-fiction writing even two centuries back, “hence the tradition was always there”.
When asked what drew them to non-fiction writing, Chaudhuri replied that he was not impressed by the fact that novel writing became a profession in England by the end of the 1990s. “I always wanted to become a writer who could write without either degrading the quality of fiction or without dwelling into academic writing, which gave me minimal choice as a writer.”
French stressed on the importance of research. But non-fiction also gives one the opportunity of journeying into new places, like his travels into Tibet for his book Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land.
On ethics, French said he was obsessed with checking facts multiple times.
“I am quite amoral when it comes to these and don’t quite think whom I am offending,” smiled Chaudhuri.
Contributed by Sudeshna Banerjee, Malancha Dasgupta and Saptarshi Dutta