To define Bangaliana in a couple of lines would require an unnecessarily compromised exercise. Playing around with stereotypes that have probably been circling rooms through the evolution of the community— yes, we still do all of that and with Puja knocking on the door, it is a recharged space after two others of sad distaste for all of it. The nostalgia, the cheese, the rituals and the usuals.
The Bengali babu on the other hand has had quite an interesting trajectory. He likes things that are comfortable. He still does. He would not allow things to go mindlessly haywire, however indulgence is probably where he fails to draw the line. Babu has seen it all, and certainly, knows it all. The song being sung or played has always played a crucial role in determining his mood. It should gracefully toe the line between blissfully serenading his soul, and teasing his senses at the same time. One such afternoon, a bird flew in and whispered in his ears, “Bangla Rock Band” and our babu’s siesta and, more importantly, his Bangaliana went for a wild toss. And thus began the journey of Bangla rock bands, tongue firmly in cheek, or is it?
It has taken time to accommodate this alien variety to the spectrum of nestled comfort but every teenager’s room in town has echoed the sounds of the underground. Growing up in the last couple of decades meant growing up with Bangla rock — carefully pirated, downloaded and curated to resonate every bit of our teenage angst and lovelorn desperation.
Headbanging to a Fossils number or plugging in our earphones to have a Chandrabindoo lullaby serenade us, experiencing the rush of feelings and the teasing firsts, Bangaliana slowly, but steadily, embraced Bangla bands and the culture of rock music. A common dream which germinated inside every room, was of joining or forming a band. For us, it was an euphoric thought, something out of the books- untethered and free. The feedback on the mic, the guitar riffs, the lyrics, imagining performing to a packed arena while crooning around with a guitar. But for the parents out there, it also meant a gamut of peripheral attractions which would certainly upset dinner table discussions on lofty career dreams.
When Bangla rock music walked into the collective Bengali consciousness with Mohineer Ghoraguli, there were murmurs regarding how such Anglophilic tendencies would challenge and soil the Bengali ethos and yet, doomed teenagers still managed to source records, cassettes, CDs, flash drives hidden in books, tucked underneath the shirt. Rock music was born out of explosive counterculture and it has always been the youth who rode the train, high and wild.
Now that our Bengali babu is asleep, Bangla rock is as much Bangaliana as one feels comfortable with, and even if it is considered something outside the spectrum, it has been dearly weaved into the cultural fabric of the community and well, it is here to stay. Traversing through five decades, the musical landscape has evolved with these very bands, transcending barriers and borders, that have captured the imagination of generations with music drawing elements from rock, classical music, indigenous folk et al, and lyrics that have been mouthed by millions, at college canteens, basements, and concerts.
With the Pujas knocking on the door, it is a good time to embrace Bangaliana in all of its organic glory. Mixtapes might be an intimate thing of the past, but The Telegraph curates an extended playlist for the five days of Puja, incorporating numbers that would take one on a nostalgic tour through the emotional hallways that we are yet to experience, are embracing, or have left behind in the past.
1. Purnota: Warfaze
2. Classroom: Prithibi
3. Dekho manashi: Fossils
4. Ei obelay: Shironamhin
5. Jhiko jhiko: Krosswindz
6. Phire cholo: Fossils
1. Anmone 2: Aurthohin
2. Ghumonto shohore: LRB
3. Neela: Miles
4. Keno korle: Fossils
5. Esho amar shohore: Meghdol
6. Poth chola: Artcell
7. Tomay dilam: Moheener Ghoraguli
Shudhu of Cactus
1. Tomake: Warfare
2. Ami shudhu cheyechi tomaye: Cactus
3. Hay bhalobashi: Moheener Ghoraguli
4. Jhorer raate: Feelings
5. Ae emon porchioy: Souls
6. Bhalobashi jare: Vikings
7. Eita tomar gaan: Chandrabindoo
8. Orom takiyo na: Bhoomi
1. Khnoro aamar Fossil: Fossils
2. Rupkotha: Warfaze
3. Mon: Cactus
4. Kemon acho shohor: Lakkhichara
5. Cholo ude jai: Prithibi
6. Haste dekho: LRB
7. Jokhon: Shohor
8. Bhalobasha: Parash Pathar
9. School: Arbovirus
James in performance
1. Ebhabeo fire asha jaaye: Chandrabindoo
2. Jeno dhaak ache aar kathi nai: Bhoomi
3. Ei biday: Artcell
4. Bhalo theko: Cactus
5. Geet Gobindo: Chandrabindoo
6. Kande shudhu mon keno: Bhoomi
7. Jibon chaiche aaro beshi: Lakkhichara
8. Ghore pherar gaan: Moheener Ghoraguli
9. Phiriye dao: Miles
10. Aaro ekbar: Fossils