Special post- Chandrobindoo turns 25!

It is often told that Bengalis find expression for all their emotional travelogues (Calcutta to Howrah!) in Tagore’s songs. That Dadu has given words for all our emotions, upheavals and more is something I dare not debate. As a quintessential Bengali, I very well know the effect “Aaj Jyotsna Rate Sobai Geche Boney” coupled with “Old Monk” had on my friendly neighbourhood dada- umm, let’s call him Poltu da, after a painful break up with the “Shundori” (Beautiful) girlfriend who did not think twice about trading his undying love for the MBBS husband. Ah! that typical bong fascination for “lyengi”. 
Lyengi is actually an art in Bengal. One that has given rise to so many poets and singers who wrote odes to their lady loves with moist eyes and good old “Old Monk”. But then again, the 90’s Bengali men and women who decided to not to remain unaffected by the changes that globalisation was gradually doing to their friendly “chayer thek” wanted a more vocal alternative for their everyday being. Be it love, politics or just being Bengali. Everything which a Bengali loves.
And then came Chandrobindoo. The rest they say is history.
As a Bengali girl growing up in a South Calcutta neighbourhood in 1990’s, remaining unaffected by the Bangla band scenario was impossible. I liked Bhoomi and some works of Cactus, but it was Chandrobindoo who made those overtures of Poltu Da during Durga Pujo bhashan or the continuous efforts that he made to appease the snob daughter of Mr. Chatterjee in our neighbourhood, utterly believable. Their first album had a song called “Sweetheart” and it was more than true that Chatterjee uncle’s daughter had, while introducing her NRI fiance to us, had taken a special exception for Poltu da and called him- “Oh! Sujoy, meet Poltu…he is like my brother you know…he stays just opposite our house”. This was 1999. NRI husband meant the big ticket to fame and she did just the same. While the above mentioned song described the Bengali woman’s fascination for their “Pistuto” brothers (“cousins”), we saw more of the rakhi brother game being played just in front of our eyes. That was the first pillar of truth Chandrobindoo established for me, even though I heard the song much later but I could make an instant connection 🙂
To say that Chandrobindoo only gave voice to a heart broken lover’s whims will be such an insult. If there was anybody who brought “humour” and “sarcasm” to the already cluttered Bangla band scene, it was them. Chandrobindoo appealed to all those Bengalis across the world who could understand our shortcomings as a race. Their song “Aamra Bangali Jaati” came during a time when we had just started jostling for our space in the world map post the globalisation. Calcutta as a city was waking up to the changing times. The times they had understood that those days of brutally romantic 70’s and 80’s were over. If we had to survive and make the city tick, we had to fight…but! there is always a but in a Bengali’s life….the fact that we as an ‘intellectual’ race had to rub our shoulders with “Paanjabis” and “Meros” was completely unacceptable to us. The stiff upper lipped uncle in my neighbourhood often discarded the overwhelmingly popular Information Technology revolution and the predominance of “Made in America” in our lives as a ‘Capitalist conspiracy’ and that actual “Bilet” was always London and never New York! So when Chandrobindoo decided to poke fun about our stake to intellectual supremacy via the Nobel laureates that only Bengal seems to have produced, it never sounded odd. We all do that. Period. We all say “Marwaris have no kaaalturrr” and then share social space with them in Calcutta Club as we have to accept a hardworking race’s claim to economic supremacy. It is even ironical that we Bengali often claim to be the “most modern, secular minded and non communal” beings. Yes! even after those ‘Paaiya’ and ‘Mero’ jokes.
This is where I feel Chandrobindoo touched the perfect chord with our generation. Their lyrics, penned by the oh! so charming Anindya and the one and only Chandril, reflected the story of our lives. My father always thought Rabindranath is the best thing to happen to literature (and I still think Sourav Ganguly is the best thing to happen to Cricket), but I also understand that the definition of what is best can never be decided in societal terms. More so when, today we are waking up to the rise of the entrepreneurial risk loving Bengali who does not mind opening their own start ups.
If that last paragraph made you think that Chandrobindoo was supposed to make light hearted music, when did it become so heavy on us….relax! For me and for everybody of my generation, Chandrobindoo will be the ones who made those expressions of love and falling out of love so easy, so gentle and so believable. I sometimes wonder whether it was the fact that the very cute Upal and the very charming Anindya in front of the microphone that made those words so believable. Anindya will probably be the only bearded man in the history of this mankind that I had a very special soft corner for. Apart from Robi Thakur that is. (That bit is always understood. I am a Bengali :P)
I met Anindya once in the Calcutta Book fair. I took his autograph and conveyed to him about how much I liked his songs. All along, I gushed like a school girl. My husband was standing besides me and he could not believe it was the same me who was still sometime ago fighting with the very obnoxious Calcutta taxi driver for a ten Rupee change!
Well! to think of what made the romantic songs, the ones I consider among the many of their songs to be my favourite, tick and stand out is a question that cannot be answered without a reference to the city which makes all of us “fall in love”. The city that has “Ei shohor janey amar prothom sobkichu” written all over, for (admit it) many of us. (That is a Kabir Sumon song. Just for the uninitiated.)
Calcutta, has been a character in many of Chandrbindoo’s songs. I cannot imagine the innocence of giving up everything for love or as the way the love of out lives wished happening in any other city in this world apart from Calcutta. May be it is my imagination, but in this world of everyday rush from our pigeonhole apartments in Borivali, New York, Gurgaon or Rajarhat to our air conditioned office spaces anywhere in this world- can any place offer the solace, the peace, the warmth and the love of a life long forgotten in the meandering lanes of North Calcutta?
The answer will be an overwhelming No! We all crave for that life that we left behind. I have never lived in North Calcutta. I have never lived continuously in the house I prefer calling “Home” situated in a South Calcutta neighbourhood since I was seventeen. But still, most of my memories of the life I so much loved/love, still belongs to that place. The times when the neighbourhood Poltu da sang “tomake shonabo Joy Goshayi/ Tomar babake meshomoshayi to woo the girl of her dreams which often turned out to be every girl who crossed his path! His efforts to say “Tumi amar CPM/ Tumi amar ATM/Tumi amar series premer seshta” was commendable though! 😛
I am sure there were Poltu Das’ aplenty in all our lives. All of whose “Modhyobitto bhiru prem” (the faint hearted middleclass love) never came true 🙂
But does that stop us from falling in love? No! Because Chandrobindoo’s music often celebrates the quirkiness of the unachievable. Be it love or be it the need of societal approval (again!) or the celebration of the only thing that remains constant in a Bengali’s life- the long standing companion which we often prefer calling “paashbalish“.
As Chandrabinoo celebrates twenty fifth year of their existence, let’s raise a toast to the ones who made our growing up years the most memorable ones. The years that have often turned out to be the “bhindeshi tara” of our lives. But for the men who made the journey memorable (staring from the time I was introduced to their music by the humble(?) “Duniya DotCom” by two classmates), all I want to say is please keep making the wonderful music. Some people say that the unique humour that we associate with Chandrobindoo’s songs have waned, but I think if you do not make songs like “Bola Baron”  or “Muhurtora” now, then may be the musical journey of our generation will not mature. Officially, “Aparajita Tumi” it is not a Chandrobindoo album, but the overwhelming presence of the two Chandrobindoo front men makes me include the song.
The later is just an overwhelming culmination of the journey that we have all undertaken in our lives.
As they say “Muhurtora, Muhurter kache wrini”, we all have those memories and those moments which makes this incredible celebration of life possible and an amazingly beautiful journey. As an ardent fan, I am happy the maturity in their music shows. Please keep on giving the background music and lyrics for all our everyday struggles in our lives….for those forlorn nights which are made memorable by the whisper of those long forgotten memories 🙂
P.S.- I was in two minds about writing this post in English. Things which are close to heart, like Chandrobindoo and their songs, deserve the beauty of expression in Bengali, my mother tongue and the language the band had chosen as a medium of their creative expression. But I decided to stick to English primarily because if there are any non Bengali speaking reader of my blog (I presume that people read my blog…I am a bit self obsessed you see :P), they deserve to know the beautiful music Chandrobindoo makes. Secondly, the inherent Bengali-ness of their songs make them ethereal and universal. Do you spot the incoherence and dichotomy? That is what marks the journey of the maverick music makers of my youth and an entire generation of Bengalis special. Happy Birthday!

100th Post: Songs that stay on

So here it is. I mean the 100th post.  Am in two minds to give a Karan Johar-esque Filmfare speech. He apparently cried this time too. But that apart, it’s been quite nice a journey…and now when I think about the shit I wrote, I doubt my intelligence. But then again, being emotional is not all about being foolish. Right? It’s also about being in touch with nicer sides of life- the ones you share with two cups of piping hot tea. And thanks for all the appreciation and the bitching- both actually. And most importantly thanks for bearing with me. I can be obnoxious, uber senti and a walking talkathon- all at the same time- I guess a few people know that too well. But in spite of that people came back and read my blog. Commented and shared. That’s actually nice you know.

I was thinking of doing something nice for the 100th post, when I came across a fellow blogger’s list of favourite books. Well, thought of doing that. Actually, that’s long overdue since Swayambhu Da has already tagged me in such a post of his. But not in a mood…..actually, I was reading ‘Sex and the City’ – the novel by Candace Bushnell and to tell you the truth, I am horrified…if that’s what critics describe as “Jane Austen with a Martini”- DIE!!! I have silently taken refuge to a collection of short stories by Indian women across all languages (albeit translated in English) and Karan Bajaj’s latest. 
So what’s the other healer- yes, music. And here it is my list of a few of my favourite film songs which I love to listen and share with all, in no particular order. I am not including a few other genres with which I am mostly identified with (read Robi Thakurer gaan, Chandrobindoo, Suman) primarily because the list will be quite long then.
1. Ajeeb Dastaan hain yeh/Kahan shuru kahan khatam/ Yeh manzeelien hain kaunsi/ Na woh samajh sakein na hum…..
The iconic song with the iconic beauty. This song from Dil Apna Preet Paraya is one of the closest to my heart. Somehow I need to be in sync with the lyrics of a song to like it. And that’s what precisely describes my fondness for this song. Serene, Calm and nostalgic. It’s all about unspoken words, unsung romances (which as a Bengali fascinates me like anything)……na woh samajh sake na hum- that precisely 🙂
2. Hoyto Tomari jonnyo/Hoyechi premey je bonyo/ Jani tumi ananyo/ ashar haat barayi…..
Gangar ghat, Soumitra, Manna De, Good ole’ Cal. Need I say more? 
What more does a woman want?  (exclude Phuchka and ghotigorom please!) 🙂 🙂 
3. Naina Milaike…Jhoot Kapat chhal kiyi ni…..
That Rahman is a magician is a foregone conclusion. But this song is also all about the wordsmith called Gulzaar. I once started learning Urdu quite religiously and it’s an open secret that one of the reasons was primarily the temptation to read Gulzaar in the language he is close to, apart form Hindi. 
“Dil ki kachcheri mein muqadma chalai ke….mujrim humein kar diyi ni”
4. Phir Se aaiyo badra bidesi….
Namkeen’s soundtrack is full of sweet nothings and this finds a place of glory. More so because the Meghpeon had a story to tell and long back it was all over 🙂
5. Lajey Ranga holo koney bou go/ Malabodol hobe aj ratey…
Let’s face it. We love marriages. I love marriages and all the chaos associated with it. I once remember telling a gathering of pishis, jethis, kakimas that in case (of course I will) I get married it will be full on Indian style- the big fat bangali wedding- three days long. This song is all about that method in madness. 
“khaat dilam, palonk dilam/saatbhori sona/ raibaghini nonodi go khnota diyo na”
6. Uthche jege shokalgulo
Autograph’s soundtrack has been a revelation and there is no denying that this was one of the best songs of the year. If only, there was no midriff baring Nandana Devsen!! Raima Sen or Radhika Apte or may be Vidya Balan- they are honorary bongs right? please!- “Khunshuti ar jhograjhati/ adda hobe khub jomati”- that’s what we all crave for right?
7. Pachayi Niramey
This is a holy exception to my list of understandable lyrics category. Alaipayuthey, Madhavan, Maniratnam and Rahman in original…bliss!
8. Tumko Dekha to yeh khayal aayaa/ Zindagi dhoop tum ghana saaya
I rediscovered this song on a lazy sunday morning and thought it’s the best thing to have happened to me since  the leading man in the movie. Yes! am a Farooq Sheikh fan 🙂
9. Dekha ek khwaab to yeh silsile huye….
There is something about unrequited love you know. and tulip fields. and probably the most controversial pairing of my father’s generation. 
10. Hain aapna dil to awara/na jane kispe aayega…
I have listened to Hemonto Mukhopadhyay in Bengali and I still feel that this is one of his better sung songs. and obviously the panache with he sings it. “Hain ek tutaa hua tara/ na jane kispe aayega”
11. Aamar bhindeshi tara/ eka rateri akashey (re worked version- Antaheen)
Simply because it had to be there. I love the original more. No doubt. But somehow Shantanu Moitra did something really nice with this song. And add to it Anindya’s charm (oh! that fichel hashi). Every work of art should be open to interpretation and Shantanu’s version was a perfect ode to the original. “Aami payina chnutey tomay/ amar ekla lagey bhari”. 
P.S. Anindya, the lyricist, I just wanted you to know- You have given words to those unspoken emotions more than once. At least for me.
12. Pretty Woman- the song.
The movie was fairytale. Richard Gere- a dream and Julia Roberts was catapulted to overnight stardom  And the song- 🙂 🙂 “fairytale”. That reminds me Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy did a wonderful job in Kal Ho na Ho while they reworked it.
13. Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon
I have heard that Mukesh was primarily known as the voice of Raj Kapoor. I wish he wasn’t stereotyped because of that. This particular number from “Kabhi Kabhie” makes you fall for that tall lanky guy on screen singing the nagma’s so well. And Mukesh is heavenly.
14. Yeh tumhari meri baatein/ humesha yunhi chalti rahein
I love Farhan Akhtar and I love the musical sense he inherited. I loved his raspy voice in Rock On. But the film remains special for this song. Conversations are delightful. Who won’t like to describe a relationship like that?
15. Ami Chini go chini tomare/ ogo bideshini
Don’t get me wrong and am not like that Youtube junkie who wrote that Rabindranath Tagore wrote “Sokhi Bhabona kahare boley” for Ekti Tarar khonje. But This makes it to the list because of Kishore Kumar. and the picturisation- one of the best picturisation of Robindroshongeet on screen (Ray’s genius- what more do you expect?) I think my love for Soumitra is well known by now. So I won’t delve on that much. I love the note on which the song ends- “Ogo Bouthakurani”
16. Aami Miss Calcutta 1976
Aparna Sen- Period.
17. Aamar din katey na/ Aamar raat katey na/ Dingulo je kichuteyi pichu hatey na
Choddobeshi was a cult comedy and this song is one of the best of that ‘purboraag’ mode I have ever heard.
18. Aabke Saajan sawan mein
This one’s from Choddobeshi’s Hindi remake – “Chupke Chupke”. Sharmila Tagore and the fellow bongs (You know Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Jaya Bhaduri- yes! ‘them’) in the unit to do justice to the story and this song…. “itney badein ghar mein nahi..ek bhi jharokha”
19. Besh korechi prem korechi
Trust Mithu Mukherjee and Ranjit Mullick to unabashedly declare the affair and how! Btw, It was Mouchak.

20. Thare Rahiyo O baanke yaar

I remember Pakeezah for two reasons. Meena Kumari and her feet – “aapke pair bohot khoobsurat hain/ inhe zameen pe mat rakhiye/ mailey ho jayenge” and this song. Lata Mangeshkar- Hail!

21. Dil cheez kya hain aap meri jaan lijiye

Lyrics. Poetry. And if we talk about Lata can the sibling be far behind? Asha ji, you are my favourite. More so because you can only sing “Aagey khud hi janlo/ Iske aagey hum/ aur kya kahein/ jaanam samjha karo”- and at this age.

22. Ei poth jodi na sesh hoy tobe kemon hoto tumi boloto?
And I will close the list with the iconic Bengali Romantic song. This one permeates through ages and generations with elan. Rina Brown! Uttam-Suchitra- need I say more?
And I am not happy because songs like- “sob khelar sera bangalir tumi football”, “Jodi hoyi chorkanta oi sharir bhanjey”, “Nari choritro bejay jotil, kichui bujhtey parbe na, ora kono law maney na, tai oder naam law law na” 😛 and “ekey to phagun mash darron ey somoy, legeche bishom chot ki jaani ki hoy” was missed.
Also, “Ke tumi Nandini/Agey to dekhini”- Remember Parar pujo? Ashtami anjali? and Jhari mara?- I know you get it.
And 90’s Hindi film songs- You are truly my life line. I can listen to “Ghoonghat ke aar se dilbar ka” and “Ek do teen” anytime. I think I will now make a list according to genres. That sounds a better idea.