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     Volume 5 Issue 96 | May 26, 2006|

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View from the Bottom

Music that Raised my Systolic!

Shahnoor Wahid

Ah! The Music of Bengal! As free flowing as the rivers, as enchanting as the eyes of the swallow, as melodious as the cooing of the cuckoo, as colourful as the krishnachura flowers! But where has it gone? I was engrossed in such thoughts when a loud noise began to shake the whole house violently. It sounded as if someone has been throwing kitchen utensils and crockery against the wall! I quickly located the source of the noise. It was coming from my young nephew's room. I banged on his door. After quite a bit of banging he opened the door looking disturbed. "What is it this time, uncle?" He said. I could hardly hear him over the noise coming from his room. "What is that noise about? And who is that screaming in such pain?" I expressed my concern. My nephew got very angry and said, "Oh uncle, you are too much! It's a song from the latest album of the musical band named "Chitkar O Mathajhakani" (The Braying Stompers). Fantastic isn't it? Just listen to the song." He invited me inside. "But where is the song? It's only wild sound that I hear? It seems people are fighting with some hari-patil (Utensils)." I gave my frank opinion. My nephew looked devastated. After updating me on the current band music scene in the country, he made me promise to listen to some of the songs on CD and accompany him to some live band music shows. I agreed and left the room.

Hemanta Mukherjee--where has his kind of music gone?

But my experience can be compared only with that of someone who has come back from the gallows!

The high-pitched metallic noise, maddening beat of the drums, tricky lights, suspicious-looking smoke; grimacing faces, wild gyration of heads and hazardous jumping on the stage by the singers increased my heartbeat to a dangerous pace and my blood pressure shot up and up. I failed to separate the noise from music and music from the wild jumping. If you are jumping and screaming then when are you singing? And where is the song in all that cacophony? All I heard was one word or line repeated at the top of the voice, possibly to outdo the beats of the drums and ear-splitting sound of the electric guitars. Think of it, the poor chap could sing so easily with none of those instruments going wild around him? But then, they say, that would not be band music!

In one such band music show, I remained in mortal fear lest those weapon-like guitars slipped out of the sweating hands of the singers and came straight towards me! Then there was this constant fear that one of those wildly gyrating heads might get dislodged from the shoulders and come rolling down the stage towards me, with the face still screaming and shouting! On another occasion, I noticed to my horror that the lead singer was grimacing angrily and pointing his finger at me and saying... "Tumee Korecho Amae Noshto...." I was stupefied! Before even realising, I uttered: "Who, me?" My nephew quickly jabbed at my ribs with his elbow. But the singer, with his unnecessarily long hair flying wildly and two eyes rolling ominously, kept looking at me (at least that's what I thought in the dim light) and kept on repeating the line. Was that all in that song? Then I could discern the word "Koshto, koshto" (Pain) over the beat of the drums. I thought the singer was trying to tell us that singing was a koshtokor (painful) exercise for him. The way he was sweating, shaking and panting it did look as if he was in great pain. I told my nephew to go on the stage and help the poor chap. He again poked at my ribs with his elbow and explained that everything was part of the show!

Then in another band music show I noticed that the singer kicked the floor with his heels and looked very angrily at everyone while he sang something like "I compare you with the blooming flower...with the eyes of the bird...." and so on. I wondered why he must look so angry about it? Why couldn't he sing it with a face beaming with a heavenly glow? But that won't be band music, said my nephew.

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