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Oscars 2023

A case for 'Tumpa Sona' at the Oscars

A viral sensation on Bengal's cultural map, this song is social commentary with a beat and just right for international recognition

Shantanu Datta | Published 14.03.23, 07:14 PM
The stage 'Tumpa Sona' deserves: The Best Original Song being performed at the Academy Awards 2023

The stage 'Tumpa Sona' deserves: The Best Original Song being performed at the Academy Awards 2023


I am so chuffed by the celebration over the recent success of an Indian film song at the Academy Awards that I feel it is now my beholden duty as a patriotic citizen of the country to propose next year's entry at the coveted Oscars.

Like this year's winner — profound apologies, I just can't seem to remember its name (blame it on short-term amnesia, a medical condition) — this is also a peppy dance track but hitherto known only in the riverside city of Kolkata and Bengal, the state whose capital it is. But Tumpa is much more than that, which is why she deserves to be nurtured and promoted. The government must act. Act now!


Tumpa is the rip-roaring, jivey and infectious tale of a guy desperate to woo back his former wife who left him after jumping out of the window on "phoolsojya" — the marital bed bedecked with flowers to mark the first night of the married couple. Initially angry and embarrassed at his "prestige being punctured" — men, I tell you — he gets onto mission mode to woo her back. 

He promises to stop chewing tobacco, offers penance at the river, has his head shaved and yearns for a second shot at wedded bliss by planning a marriage ceremony where he will recite the mantra (vows) in English. He also promises Tumpa to take her out regularly to enjoy the various culinary delights on offer in Kolkata, a la "paoch and mumlet", et al. 

It is here that this song's aspirations as a mere foot-stomping dance track takes wind and surpasses the artistic heights achieved by this year's Oscar winner. Sorry, I still can't recall the name of that song even though it is a viral sensation the world over and my friends in Chicago can't stop talking about it. Short-term amnesia is debilitating, I tell you.

Don't be fooled into thinking that the composers, writers and the videographers associated with the brilliant Tumpa really believe their song is "kewra", or lowbrow, even though that is exactly their avowed declaration. Tumpa, also a viral sensation, is a study in the social sciences. Girl rejects boy because he chews tobacco. Boy realises his folly — and this touch is truly poignant — gives up his class afflictions, sheds his ego on the banks of Ma Ganga and comes back reformed. If this is not progressive thinking and heart-meltingly aspirational then what is? Tumpa also harks to cinematic milestones by endearingly referring to Mithun Chakraborty as 'Mithun da', the Disco-era Tolly and Bollywood heart-throb of the 1980s. What's really sweet about this song is that the boy, who even breaks into Hindi for a wider connection, changes too, and for the better. 

'Tumpa, also a viral sensation, is a study in the social sciences'

'Tumpa, also a viral sensation, is a study in the social sciences'

But before we get carried away, there are a few things the makers of Tumpa need to take care of. The song is two years old. So, it needs to be remixed and a new video shot at a new venue. I suggest the Red Road where Kolkata's annual Republic Day parade is held with the Victoria Memorial in the backdrop. Only, the stage needs to be high enough so that the cameras capture both the performers and that majestic colonial-era monument. Carpenters (not the US musical duo of Karen and Richard) from Bowbazar will be able to pull it off, I am sure.

That taken care of, Tollywood superstar Dev will have to be coaxed to include it in his next blockbuster. I know a certain Mantuda who heads our local Tarun Sangha thanks to whom I heard Tumpa Sona for the first time, courtesy bass-boosting speakers at the ungodly hour of 1am on the day after R-Day two years ago. Mantuda has some connections with the powers that be. Maybe he can coax Didi about the potential of such a lyrical ditty to love and the City of Joy. She may then be inspired to nudge Dev about the opportunities the song could well open up. 

Fingers crossed. I tell you this will work. Drop everything everywhere all at once. This is the time. Go! Tumpa is asking that you 'Hold my Hand' and 'Lift me Up'. She wants to 'Tell it Like a Woman' and we must all join hands to help her. Remember, 'This is Life'.  

See, I haven't forgotten the losers at this year's Oscars. But I still can't recall the name of the winning song, which my friends in the US say will help introduce India's musical heritage to their American friends. I need to change my shrink.

Last updated on 14.03.23, 09:14 PM

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