Your playlists may be buzzing with a slew of hot new chart toppers this month, what with heavy hitters like Drake, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Jack Harlow, and Kendrick Lamar all dropping their albums within days of each other.
However, on World Music Day, we recommend exploring homegrown sounds and celebrating icons closer to home. Be it Rabindrasangeet, Nazrulgeeti, Atulprasadi or even some renditions by contemporary powerhouses — Bengali music has an abundance of offbeat, engaging numbers that deserve to be on your playlist. Here are some of them.
'Dupurer Khamokha Kheyal' by Chandrabindoo
“Bhalo theko subho jonmodin/ lekhagulo aajo omoleen...” Stumbling across sepia-old love notes, a bus ticket, an old movie ticket or a forgotten rose from a tucked away book, and the unsettling ache of helpless love, loss and longing — the feelings may be all too familiar but they never wear us down. Dupurer Khamokha Kheyal is an honest self-note written for an aching heart.
‘Ekta Chele’ by Sahana Bajpaie
A love ballad like no other, Sahana Bajpaie’s Ekta Chele is a playlist-must. The innocence in “Ekta chele moner anginate dheer payete ekka dokka khele'' pens love in a way that recalls those bygone days of writing love letters, rushing to the post office and then eagerly counting seconds and days for a reply from the beloved.
‘Maaya’ by Satyaki Banerjee
A reflective composition by Satyaki Banerjee, Maaya was released on the artist’s official YouTube channel this January. In this hymn-like composition, the only discernible word you hear throughout the 2:50-minute song is ‘maya’ but the sense of mysticism it evokes is like an introspective journey. The nocturnal visuals of a city street smattered with idols of goddess Kali, add to the haunting listening experience.
‘Lokey Bole’ cover by Arko Mukhaerjee
Arko Mukhaerjee on dotara and Diptanshu Roy on the mandolin is any music lover’s delight. Recorded during a home session at Roy’s residence, this rendition offers a nuanced take on the famous Bengali folk song Lokey Bole written by Hason Raja from Sylhet, Bangladesh.
“Lokey Bole is a song which has been there for nearly 150 years, it’s about some people having everything and some having nothing. It is about how dialectics residing in every material are about the spiritual and the historic simultaneously. It’s a super powerful song, about the crudest understanding of materialism and how materialism is completely meaningless after a point,” Arko shared.
‘Laal ey laal’ by Borno Anonyo
A birthday wish like no other, this Borno Anonyo original steals the heart with the simplicity of the lyrics as the arrangement weaves unparalleled magic.
Written by singer-composer Satyaki Banerjee, Laal ey Laal is a Borno Anonyo song, curated by Rajarshi Ghosh during the lockdown in 2020, with Satyaki with Dwaipayan Saha on the beats.
‘Megher Ghor’ by Samantak Sinha
As Sahana Bajpaie captures the magic, Samantak makes the heart skip a beat with “aro aghaat soibe bole nirbikar/ tomar chokh amar mukhe dublo na” reminding one of the many failing, aching resolutions — be it while seeking refuge in Tagore or playing Samantak’s Megher Ghor on loop for days.
“I wrote the song on the way back from Berlin, partly at the airport and partly on the flight. A very personal song, it talks about love and departure, of leaving something beloved behind,” the singer-composer shared with My Kolkata.
This is a subjective list and not an exhaustive one.