It’s a common saying that good music is devoid of any language and has the capacity of blurring borders, castes and religions. However, music in India was strictly centralized until very recently and was restricted to a few famous maestros and the Bollywood lead singers. However, nowadays, with certain fusion bands and shows on music channels, more people are getting to know about the earthy folk music and ecstatic pop and rock musical bands of different places in India. Let’s make an attempt to know about a few Bengali artists and bands who the whole India should listen to—
5. Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty
One of the leading classical gurus in India, Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty is a renowned Hindusthani Classical singer belonging to the Patiala Gharana of Music. Having got his musical inspiration and training from Ustaad Munawar Ali Khan, son of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty went on to become a noted singer and composer himself and is now known worldwide for the sensation he attaches to the lyrics coupled with his queer sense of rhythm. His daughter Kaushiki Desikon is too a celebrated classical singer and is widely regarded as a youth icon.
4. Usha Uthup
There isn’t any single person in India who is unacquainted with this singer with a non-stereotypical voice! Well, yes, we know this person isn’t Bengali per se, but her profound love for Bengal is exemplified everywhere (read, her big Bindi, which has the Bengali word, “Ka” imprinted on it) so, leaving her out from this list would be blasphemy. She is a popular singer in India who is known for her pop and jazz twist to Indian songs. Her Bengali song, “Kolkata, Kolkata” is a song which is close to every Bengali’s heart and is played at almost every program and events held in Kolkata.
3. Purna Das Baul Samrat
If you’re fond of listening to folk music, then you’ve got to listen to the bauls of Bengal, with Purna Das Baul being the foremost of them all. Bauls are the wandering minstrels who would go from house to house in search of food, singing their sacred songs about Krishna; in fact, in many ways, they are alike the Sufis. However, unlike Sufism, their tradition wasn’t much known outside Bengal earlier, it was only with Purna Das Baul, that it became renowned and got much appraisal too. Purna Das Baul’s songs are so much appreciated that he to present them he had to travel across the globe, to 140 countries! If you’re new to Baul geeti, listen to his rendition of Tomay Hrid Majhare Rakhbo, Chere Debo Na.
2. The Bangla Bands: Fossils, Chandrabindu and Bhumi
Among an array of Bangla Bands that we have, these three have been reigning over Bengal for more than a decade now. The idea behind putting these three bands together is to exemplify their range of music in their differences—if Fossil is known for their pop rock, grunge and rock music (with severe head-banging involved!), then Chandrabindu’s USP is their witty lines, catchy phrases coupled with a mesmerizing but tickling music, and Bhumi for their more raw, earthy, appeal, and easy but contemporary lyrics. Our recommendation: O Mon… and Boshe Bicycle Seat’e by Fossil, Juju and Bhindeshi tara by Chandrabindu, and Baranda’e Roddur and Tui Amare Pagol Korli Re by Bhumi!
1. Anjan Dutt
He’s the person to revolutionize the singing arena of Bengal by bringing a fresh lease with his alternative music which was heavily inspired from western folk songs, jazz, blues, bluegrass and country music. Known for his simple lyrics and natural, easy flowing music, he’s redefined the Bengali music that was seriously glued onto Classical, Rabindra Sangeet and contemporary film songs. In fact, he is regarded as the first Bengali artist to depend solely on a saxophone to aid his songs. His songs are famous among all the generations, and there is hardly a person in Bengal who hasn’t heard and fallen in love with his “Bela Bose”.