The CD cover illustrated by Ramananda Bandyopadhyay. (Arnab Mondal)
Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories can now be heard. All 95 stories of Galpaguchchha have been read aloud and recorded.
The pack of 50 CDs was released by Bhavna Records and Cassettes recently. “People are so pressed for time that they favour multi-tasking these days. But reading is one action that does not allow that. If you play one of these CDs you can enjoy Tagore’s stories while doing something else. This will also reach the Bard to those who understand Bengali but cannot read the language,” said Biswa Roy of Bhavna.
A total of 49 artistes have lent their voice to the project which took a year to record. Some are seasoned elocutionists like Jagannath and Urmimala Basu, Soumitra Chatterjee, Bratati Bandyopadhyay and Pradip Ghosh while others are from diverse fields.
It is this diversity that educationist Pabitra Sarkar, himself one of the 49, highlighted at the launch of the collection of readings on March 13 by Governor M.K. Narayanan. Sharing the dais with the governor and Sarkar were former MP Krishna Bose, retired bureaucrat Dipak Rudra, artist Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, senior police officer B.D. Sharma, all of whom feature in the album. Present in the audience were dancer Alokananda Roy, singer Pramita Mullick, theatre personality Bibhas Chakraborty and educationist Bharati Roy to name a few.
“I may have spent years on stage but I am a novice in elocution. Gouri Ghosh (who jointly directed the project) introduced me to the art with a recording of the play Chirakumar Sabha recently,” confessed Chakraborty.
Sharma, the top cop who has cut his teeth in the field of culture by singing for Valmiki in Roy’s Valmiki Pratibha featuring undertrial prisoners, said he was “shocked” when he was approached by the Bhavna proprietor.
Chatterjee has read the maximum number of stories — 18. While each CD has stored multiple titles, some stories are so long that they have taken more than one CD. Bratati Bandyopadhyay’s Karuna, for instance, runs into three CDs while Mastermoshay read by Pradip Ghosh or Rashmonir Chhele by Bharati Roy take up two discs each.
The readings are spartan in the use of musical accompaniments that are now the stock in trade for most new-age professional elocutionists. “We have used none. Otherwise, it would become play-reading, not story-telling,” Roy said.
Even Raya Bhattacharya, who reads the only story heavily laden with dialogues titled Karmophal, has to depend on only her voice to dramatise the situations featuring five characters.
The pack of CDs, priced at Rs 5,000, resembles a bound photo album and the cover has been illustrated by artist Bandyopadhyay. “I was inspired by kanthas which, like plots of stories, are intricately woven. Kanthas also remind us of nights of listening to bedtime stories. Sadly, today’s mothers have low stocks of stories. Perhaps they can play these CDs instead.”