Posts Tagged ‘bengali’

The complete Indian National Anthem

September 10, 2014

Though not greatly impressed by the self-conscious “I am a star singing” rendition of the singers…it’s still a very beautiful poem, and very rarely does one hear all the stanzas sung (just like many other national anthems, I suspect!)

The translation is very good, too.

Now, if we could translated the emotion of pride that we feel into less corruption, lesser litter, less unkindness towards our fellow citizens(and less apathetic acceptance of all these)….that would make for a better India.

Suchitra Sen: beauty, talent, and haunting songs

January 17, 2014

Movie stars…are often known for their beauty, and less often, for their histrionic talent.

Suchitra Sen

had a combination of both…in the Bengali film world, she was called “mahAnAyikA” or “the great heroine” (a politically incorrect word today, but it’s more precise.) Her foray into the Hindi film world was not as successful…but she acted in some great movies, and I always associate her with some of the most lilting songs I know.
If you want to watch one of her movies, inspired by the life of Indira Gandhi, here:

Here’s a beautiful song about the eternity of love in nature…whether the person exists physically, or not:

Here’s another of my great favourites…the clip has good English subtitles:

And another one, also dealing with a relationship that has broken:

“su chitra”, literally means, “good picture”…to me, Suchitra Sen will remain the good picture of beauty and talent combined. I will not forget her.

Memories from my college days

June 7, 2013

Kanian Chatterjee sent me a rendition of Robindro Songeet.

I listened to it, and my mind went back…to my college days. I was a student of English (Honours) and Philosophy, for my bachelor’s degree, at Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College. Bengalis being very artistic, we also had a lot of cultural events, and one of them was “bAyishE srAbON”, which is the death anniversary of that giant of Indian literature, Rabindranath Tagore (or to pronounce it the correct Bengali way, Robindronath Thakur.)

We would grind rice paste the previous day, and make “Alpona” (rangoli) on the stage and around it. Bengali girls are incredibly talented at this…and the designs are always exquisite. The white designs were rimmed around with “lAl maati” (red earth), and it proved a lovely counterpoint to the sarees of the college girls…more about that later.

The favourite flower for this occasion was always “rojoni gondhA” (tuberose)…long stalks of these flowers were arranged in tall mud or brass vases on both sides of the stage. They cast their heavy, heady fragrance across the whole hall for days…the name means, literally, “aroma of the night”. These are white, night-blooming flowers.

For the music, we had several people singing, several on the harmonium, and a sArangi player and a tabolchi (tabla player) were men brought in for the evening.

Our college was probably the only one in Kolkata which enforced a uniform; young women always had to wear white sarees with red borders (“sAda shAdi lAl pAt”) always made of cotton (there were hardly any sarees of artificial fibres…it was always more comfortable to wear cotton!)
I w
(There were, of course, many girls who were averse to being regimented like this, and especially for newly-married young women, white sarees were a cultural no-no. I led a strike in the college in my third year, and got the uniform rule rescinded to “only on cultural occasions”. The professors were shocked to find Deepa Viswanath, their star student, who never cut a class, suddenly turning into a “biplobi” or rebel!)

Like a flight of white birds, the graceful young women would settle on the stage. They would tune their voices to the harmonium, and the sweet-voiced singing would begin. I must say, however, that I felt then, and I feel now, that though the lyrics are always amazing, the music of Robindro Songeet is, far too often, dirge-like and very mournful, and used to put me off quite a bit!

As a Tamizh girl, my college was very proud of the fact that I could read and write Bengali, and sing Robindro Songeet. I was always given solo billing for two songs…”kOn AlO” from Chitrangada, and “choroNo dhorithE”.(On other occasions, an AdhUnik (modern song), “kOn sE AlOr sopno niyE”, was a must for me to sing). It was a great point that my Bengali pronunciation was very good, and they took as much pride in it as if they had taught me the language themselves, instead my learning it in my childhood, from my neighbours, our maids, and others around me!

The event over, we would adjourn to the college canteen for some of the traditional snacks….jhAlmUdi, alUr chop, ghUghni, lUchi/AlUr dom, and, of course, jolkhAbAr (bengali sweets, YUMMMMM!). Since I was a star, I could always ask a couple of classmates, and their mothers or grandmother, having merely heard about my singing Bengali songs, would send “peethe”, which was only a home-made sweet in those days.( I was not averse to roso molAi from one of the sweet shops, either!) I can say that my nickname of “baby elephant” when I got married was due to a large part to my love for Bengali sweets. My friends had a project to convert me into a non-vegetarian, and brought chicken and fish in various recipes to tempt me…but to this day, I have not found something tasty enough to convert me into a non-vegetarian. The food was served from large aluminum dishes; we ate them out of stitched leaf-plates. I honestly don’t remember much plastic (except for buckets and mugs and things like that) from my childhood or youth. JhAlmUdi was given in “tOngA”s…beautifully made paper packets. How I love, still, my puchkA and my jhAlmudi, all these years later!

Of course, the food was washed down with “chA”. It was made and served from huge kettles, and drunk out of “bhANd”, the unstable mud cups that could be thrown away after use. The cups imparted such a unique taste to the chA!

Many of the newly-married girls did wear AltA, red dye made from shoe flowers, on their feet; and dancers were allowed to wear it, too. The conversation, always in Bengali, with very little English, would ebb and flow around the hall, with the monsoon often wreaking its thunder and lightning outside, resulting, sometimes, in power cuts. The songs would then cut through the humid heat, and the spiralling smoke from the mud lamps and the agarbathies (incense sticks) would permeate the hall.

Life in college was full of music, dance and culture…I was too young for my years (I started my undergraduate degree in 1970 when I was 16)…. and was often teased unmercifully, but theSe are some happy memories from those years.

A 51-year-old hit…in Hindi and Bengali

November 18, 2011

I am, right now, teaching two friends this Hindi song that Latha Mangeshkar sang… “O SajnA” in 1960, for the movie “Parakh”:

I don’t need to write down the Hindi words as the words are clear, and the translation, a pretty good one, appears on the video.

But Lata also rendered a Bengali song to the same tune and music on the same soundtrack:

click here

(because the embedding is disabled)..this gives the Bengali version, followed by the Hindi one.

Or listen to the Bengali version and follow the lyrics here:

The Bengali lyrics are:

nA, jEO nA…
rojoni ekhonO bAkI
ArO kIchU dithE bAkI
bolE rAt jAgA pAkhI
nA…jEO nA…

Ami jE thumArI shudhU
jIbOnE morONE (2)
dhoriyA rAkhItE chAhI
noyOnE noyOnE.. (nA…jEO nA…)

jE kothA bolithE bAjE
jE byethA morOmE kAndE
shE kothA bolithE OgO dAO..

jibonO rojonI jAnI
emonI pOhAbE(2)
chAndErO torONI thUmI
shudurE milAbE…(nA…jEO nA…)

this link

says, “The combination of Salil Chowdhury and Lata Mangeshkar changed the course of modern Bengali song for ever. The song ‘na jeo na’ became one of the most important and most beautiful Bengali songs in history. Bengalees were thrilled to get Lata singing Bengali songs with practically flawless accent. She became one of them and the wonderful songs Salil composed for Lata during the next three decades still remain possibly the most melodic and lyrical Bengali modern songs.”

What a wonderful song! The raag is Khamaj…and the music director is Salil Chaudhury

Pujo in south Bangalore…Citizen Matters

October 10, 2011


is my writeup about two pandals in south Bangalore.

Bengali verse, with punctuation :)

September 15, 2011

A brilliant piece of verse by Suhrita Majumdar Basak:

Priyotoma roma, comma,
Tumi amar hridoye diechcho dolon, semicolon;
Tokhon amar pocket-e chchilo na cash, dash-
Amar dirghoswash tomar opor korlo na work,exclamation mark!

Let me see if I can sort-of-write something similar in English:

Dearest Roma,comma,
It’s love for you that lets me roll on, semicolon;
Alas, my pockets lack any cash,dash-
So my love remains in the dark, exclamation mark!

I enjoy clever stuff like this 🙂

A childhood favourite…

April 27, 2011

I don’t even remember how, or when, I learnt this song. I think I learnt it by osmosis!
I didn’t know that it was a movie song, and I didn’t know the movie. I just suddenly decided to google for it….and there it was…in Asha Bhonsle’s lovely voice.


is my rendition of it, obviously, a little different, with all those years of never hearing the original. And I have taken it at a much lower pitch.

Durga Puja, 1 Oct 06…Ulsoor and Jayamahal, Bangalore

October 2, 2006


Here she is, the mother Goddess, Durga, destroyer of the demon Mahishasura (demon in the form of a buffalo)

IMG_0029 Durga Puja, 06

Durga’s vehicle is the lion. The decorations behind the idol are traditionally made of pith; nowadays, thermocole takes its place!

More pictures under the cut