The dhaak is integral to Durga Puja, so it is fitting that it took centre stage at the Manicktalla Chaltabagan Lohapatty Durga Puja Dhakutsav — presented in association with Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, with ABP Digital as media partner — with the launch of Bickram Ghosh’s multi-artiste Puja song Aaj baaja tui dhaak.
The song, which is the title track of Ghosh’s Puja album, which will have five more songs, celebrates the dhaak, which is the drum of Bengal, and features singers like Amit Kumar, Hariharan, Mahalakshmi Iyer, Sona Mohapatra, Shaan, Kaushiki Chakraborty and Zubeen Garg.
“It is my great honour to have this stellar combination both on stage and in this song,” smiled Ghosh as he asked the singers, some of whom were present on stage at ITC Sonar on Wednesday, to share their experiences about being a part of the song.
L to R: Sugata Guha (lyricist), Zubeen Garg, Mahalakshmi Iyer, Bickram Ghosh, Hariharan, Amit Kumar and ShaanAmit Datta
“Today takes me 25 years back, because that was the first time I sang a Bengali song for Puja,” said Hariharan. Apart from the collaborative track — Aaj baaja tui dhaak — the six artistes have also been a part of other songs in the album, all of which will be released as singles over the course of the next few weeks.
For Amit Kumar, this launch provided an opportunity to return to the city after a gap. “I’m coming to Kolkata after 10 months,” he said. Kumar has also recorded a solo piece for the album which is a tribute to the legendary RD Burman.
(L-R) Sugata Guha, Zubeen Garg, Mahalakshmi Iyer, Hariharan and Amit Kumar during the screening of the music videoAmit Datta
“We wanted to popularise the Bengali dhaak among national audiences,” said Shaan. Despite being a Bengali word, ‘dhaak’ has been retained in the Hindi version of the song as well. In fact, all the tracks in the album are bilingual and will be available in both Hindi and Bengali.
It is this eponymous drum from Bengal that sets the mood right from the beginning in the official video for Aaj baaja tui dhaak. “The album has a wonderful mixed bag of genres and styles,” noted Mahalakshmi Iyer.
The Sankha Badon troupe (left); the Baul singers (right)Amit Datta
The highlight of the evening, which also saw performances by a group of Sankha Badon artistes from Odisha and Baul singers, was a live performance of the song by the artistes who were present, following which the singers stepped down from the stage for a short dhaak-playing session. They were joined by Saswata Chatterjee and Sourendro-Soumyajit from the audience. The ambience in the room was almost akin to that of a Puja pandal, especially with Shaan, Hariharan, Zubeen Garg and Mahalakshmi Iyer cranking up some dance moves to the beats of the dhaak.
"We are all going through unprecedented times. Corona-shur has engulfed the whole world. There is distress and despair everywhere. But Mother Nature follows her own course. With time, the season changes and sharat comes with its own treasure of the shiuli and kash. The sound of the Agomoni heralds the arrival of Anandomayee in her maternal abode. We believe that with her arrival, all evil will be eliminated and we will all breathe in a COVID-free world again," said Sundeep Bhutoria, chairman, Manickatalla Chaltabagan Lohapatty Durga Puja Committee. "Like every year, this year too Manicktalla Chaltabagan Lohapatty Durga Puja Committee organised Dhakutsav, keeping in mind all COVID protocols, where we were mesmerised by tabla maestro Bikram Ghosh's rhythms. Let us all pledge for a pandemic-free world," he added.
Sourendro Mullick, Soumyajit Das and Saswata Chatterjee join Bickram Ghosh to play the dhaakAmit Datta
Considering that the 2020 Dhakutsav had to be cancelled owing to the pandemic, this year’s event provided a much-welcome relief for the attendees.
Head over to our event gallery to check out some of the guests who were present:
Soumyajit Das of musician duo Sourendro-Soumyajit summed up the feeling when he observed, “We get busy with work during Durga Puja. So this Dhakutsav on Mahalaya has always been the day we are in the city and celebrate the spirit of the festival. Last year there was no Dhakutsav and it felt very empty. But we are so happy that so many friends are here and we are back.”
For some, this Dhakutsav was a glimpse into the grandeur of Kolkata’s Durga Puja. Simon Kleinpass from the German Consulate in Kolkata was one such person. Having arrived in the city a month and a half ago, he expressed his enthusiasm at being a part of the event. “It is very good to finally see this tradition which I have of course heard a lot about since I arrived here from Germany,” smiled Kleinpass.
(L-R) Esha Dutta, Nilanjanaa Sengupta, Sundeep Bhutoria, Mahua Chatterjee and Saswata Chatterjee at DhakutsavAmit Datta
The evening came to a close with a Dhunuchi Naach — a much celebrated ritual associated with Durga Puja.
Dancers during the closing performance for the eventAmit Datta
Every year, for the five days of Durga Puja, Kolkata decks up in its brightest lights to welcome the goddess back to her earthly abode. Gouri Basu, the director of EZCC, captured the spirit of this festival when she said, “Her homecoming… is a celebration of the traditions and customs of our culture.”
The Dhakutsav at ITC Sonar was a testament to this spirit of celebration.