Sounds of protest

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  • Published 14.09.04

He?s 50. He?s tired. And he wants to live his second childhood. Meet the new Anjan Dutt as he gets all set to turn back time, his way. And his new partner in this new rhyme? A little younger, but an equally seasoned campaigner ? Someplace Else.

The Park Hotel pub, which just finished celebrating a decade in business, will host Anjan Dutt and the Music Folk on the last Thursday of every month for an intimate evening of urban folk legends titled Poet and the Band.

?It will be more of a songwriters? evening,? says Dutt. ?I have grown up listening to these great songwriters from Great Britain and the US, who questioned their times and the changes around them. It will be more of a tribute to legends like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. We are essentially stressing on the folk poetry in their music.?

Dutt admits that it wasn?t difficult to choose the venue for this exploration of urban folk fare. ?These greats used to sing in street rallies, coffee-shops and concert halls. I was looking for a place where the listeners could relax, reminisce and reflect. Someplace Else fitted the bill perfectly. It is also the only place in Calcutta where you can experiment with music.?

While Dutt will essentially be singing songs of his times, son Neel will render numbers by the next generation of folk musicians like Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Don Mclean and Paul Simon. ?The sound will be strictly acoustic,? says Neel. ?A guitar, piano, drums, bass ? that?s all.?

It will also be the first time in his musical career that Anjan Dutt will be a part of a music band of sorts. ?It was a necessary development for the genre of music we are playing. Apart from Neel, with whom I have performed on a number of occasions, there will be Chirodeep, Samit Mukherjee and Raja.?

Dutt is livid about the fact that English music in India has done nothing in response to recent global upheavals. ?It?s happening in cinema, it?s happening in theatre, it?s happening in literature but nothing in the world of music. For modern Indian music to survive, it has to make a statement.?

So Dutt is planning to slip in some of his original numbers in between the legendary tracks. ?Not just me. What I want to see is Thursday evening in Someplace Else becoming a free space where anyone can come forward and sing their songs. They have to be folk and in English. It would be great if we can have people coming and reading out their poetry. I know of a lot of people in Calcutta outside the world of music ? journalists, advertising people ? who write in English. They should come forward sooner rather than later.?

The only way, according to Dutt, original English songs can be made popular is by playing, playing and playing some more. However, for the time being, once a month is just fine. ?Someplace Else has created this lovely live music setup over the years, thanks to people like Nondon Bagchi. I don?t want to just storm in and start singing protest songs everyday.?

Dutt also has a statutory warning before he kickstarts his concept from September 30 at Someplace Else. ?I cannot make people dance and I am not doing a gig out here. And this is definitely not for those who just want to listen to Ranjana. While that is a part of me, folk music is also a big part of my music, which I would love to share with everyone.?