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Rabindrasangeet in Bengali cinema- my personal favourites

Updated on December 11, 2011

Rabindrasangeet in Bengali cinema, my five personal favourites

Rabindranath Tagore is one who is indelibly linked with every Indian worth his/her name. Every child in India knows about Tagore when s/he learns to sing the National Anthem. No less is the inspiration received by citizens of Bangladesh. I was very moved by an article I read by a Bangladeshi exile living in Germany who talks about the Bangladeshi Freedom Struggle in 1971. The article was written in connection with the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore in a commemorative issue (here's the link)

http://www.dailypioneer.com/Tagore/DH_Tagore.aspx

Tagore has had a strong impact on every Bengali worth his name and I am no exception. In this lens, I want to express a token of my regard for him by presenting a collection of my all time favourite film clips where songs, based on his creations, do the talking. Indian cinema runs because of its musical content and Rabindrasangeet is a rich source to tap from. It is one of the reasons why Hollywood has not been able to make a dent on Indian cinema, even though Hollywood remakes by Bollywood, pass muster. It is the musical input that makes the difference.

In this lens I have attempted to present a selection of my personal favourites that I have found from older films which are not so well known. Cinema has changed a lot since the era of black and white movies, but some of the oldies still possess the capability of not leaving you untouched by the viewing, despite the fast pace of life today.

The clips I have chosen are not at all meant to be exhaustive in any way. I have selected them from a bevy of clips from youtube.com using my own 'subjective' mindset.

The Indian National Anthem

This was the first video module added by kevin1300 and, though it does not fit in with my favourites, I would be loth to remove it from its pride of place as the first in my list! So there it stays!

A Bengali version of "Auld Lang Syne"

Tagore drew a lot of inspiration from Western music and this song is one where input is drawn from the well known ballad mentioned above. In this clip, the song, sung with feeling by Hemanta Mukherjee, captures the essence of a bygone way of life, in which the benign paterfamilias was also an established citizen and decision maker in society, and everyone else submitted to his diktats. Uttam Kumar, played the main character with practised ease. The clip, exudes an imminent change in social circumstances, and the song captures poignantly, the effects of this change.

Translation-The days of yore

How can we forget those old days,

When we sang together and our spirits communed ?

O my friend, come into my heart once more, we will talk of our joys and sorrows and once again feel whole.

We have picked flowers together at dawn, swung together in our swings, played our flutes under the bokul tree.

Later on, we got separated, we went our different paths, but now in our meeting, my friend, come once again into my heart.

A song that makes time stand still

Whenever I hear this song being played, time for me, does just that, stops still. Sung melodiously by Arundhati Home Chaudhary, this clip is one of my absolute favourites. The clip has been taken from the film "Alo" which means light.

Translation-The floods of Sravan

Like the rains of the month of Sravan, let the floodgates of your music pour forth through my lips, through my heart.

Let it pour forth into my eyes with the light of dawn.in the east

Let it pour forth in the deep depths of the night into my heart

After the joys and sorrows of this life, let the floodgates of your grace pour forth.

To the branch that can bear neither flowers or fruits, let the floodwaters of your grace, render awake

Whatever is old, tattered and lifeless within me,

Let the waves of your soothing waters rejuvenate after the thirst and hunger of this life.

Singing together

I chose this video as an example of large scale collective singing. This video never fails to engage my attention, never mind what I am doing. This is a well known song, but somehow, the scale of the event matches and actually magnifies its effect.

A translation (Touchstone of fire)

Touchstone of fire, touch my heart,

Make this life worthy with your gift of fire.

Take my body and lift it up

Make it a light in your devic abode

Let your light burn both day and night in my heart.

In the dark, I feel your touch, as the stars sparkle in the night sky

With your gift of fire, darkness will flee and everywhere there will be light.

My pain will disappear in the upward moving flames.

An unusually sensitive portrayal

I love this portrayal by Sharmila Tagore of a girl deeply in love going to meet her lover. The song is sung by....you guessed it, Hemanta Mukherjee and the clip is from the film "Chaya Surjo" which roughly translates to Sun-Shadow.

A translation "Come, come home to me"

Here is a translation of the above song

Come, come to my home,

Come in from the outside, you who live in my heart,

Shut the doors of dreamland and emerge in the light of the sun,

To my enchanted sight,

From the experience of a moment to one that is eternal,

Come to me

Come to me, surfing on the waves of gladness and sorrow

On the upswings of my spirit, come to me,

Yours was the soothing voice of hope in the winds of springtime

In the deep breathing of the forests

Now in the full flowering of springtime, come into my heart.

Joy of be-longing- to the Universe

This song and film clip from "Komal Gandhar" has always stirred me for its energy. Sung by one of Bengal's best singers, Debabrata Biswas of the fifties and sixties, its meaning and energy has been captured precisely by the actor Anil Chatterjee. I always feel glad when I see this video.

Translation of "I found my place"

The sky is full of the sun and stars,

Within this vastness, I have found my place

That is why in wonderment

I burst into song,

From the depths of time,

the waves of life which rule creation in the ebb and flow of their tides

It is their very rhythm that runs in my veins'

In wonderment I burst into song.

I have walked on the grass on my way to the woods

The scent of flowers startles me and sparks joy in my heart

Everywhere, I glimpse gifts of gladness

In wonderment, I burst into song.

I have listened, I have opened my eyes,

To the earth, I have given my lifeblood

In the known,I have sought the unknown

In wonderment, I burst into song.

Same song in different films - chokher aloe dekhechilem (In the light of your eyes,I could see the light beyond)

Here is a song that has been sung as it deserves to be sung. In the first video, the singer is Indrani Sen, one of the best known proponents of Rabindrasangeet today. In the second video, the same song is presented in another film. This song is one of my perennial favourites. Both of these clips, are from more modern films.

Translation of the above

With the light of the eyes, I have seen that which is beyond them

I will see that in my heart when the light is no more

When You do not yield to my earthly touch

My heart is full of You

Now I long for You in the Light which emanates from Thee

With You I played in my playhouse

Our playdoll has long been shattered by torrential storms

Now it is time to put away playhtings

Let our spirits meet

The strings of the Veena are broken,

Now I sing with the strings of my heart.

Same song in different films - Tumi Robe Nirabe (In silence you abide )

Here is another lovely song, presented in two totally different clips. The fiirst clip is sung by.... yes Hemanta Mukherjee again and the doyenne of Indian film music, Lata Mangeshkar. The second clip is from a more recent film called "Shesher Kobita" or,"The last poem". The latter is a film version of one of Tagore's original works.

Translation of the above

In silence, you remain in my heart

Like the full moon in the lonesome quiet of the dark

My youth, my life, my flgihts of ambition

You fill with glory

Just with your Silent Presence

Your tender eyes will wake up to meet mine

With the foldsof your saree, you protect me from harm

All my pain and my sorrows

All my fulfilled dreams

You fill with joyful harmony

with your quiet presence

Jokhon Porbe Na Mor Payer Chinho Ei Bate - (When no more my footprints appear in this marketplace)

This song is a classic.The first is sung by my favourite male singer Hemanta Mukherjee, in a fairly shortened version. The film *Bibhas' also features my all time favourite actor Uttam Kumar..

This film "Alo" has been featured before in this lens.Clearly the singer Arundhati Home Chauhdary has made a mark with her melodious voice.

I apologize for the dark quality of the videos. The musical content, however, overrides this flaw.

Translation of the above

When my footprints fall no more on this marketplace

When I stop ferrying my boat at this ghat (ferry stop)

When I will have stopped trading my goods

When I will have balanced my books

When comings and goings have stopped at this marketplace

Then,.....

Please do not remember me.

Gazing at the stars, do not call my name.

When dust fall on the strings of my tanpura

Thorny vines creep up the walls

Mould appears on the sides of the lake

Then......

Please do not remember me

Gazing at the stars, do not call my name.

Then the sound of the flute will be as it is today

The days will pass by as they do today

At the ghat, the ferries will run

Cows will graze, cowherds will play in the meadows

Then...

Please do not remember me

Gazing at the stars, do not call my name.

Then....

Who says that in that morn, that I am not?

In every game, the same I will be there,

With a new name you will call upon me,

With new arms I will be embraced

The same eternal I, will be coming and going.

Then...

Please do not remember me

Gazing at the stars, do not call my name.

Dance to Rabindrasangeet in Bengali cinema

Rabindrasangeet is not just confined to music alone. There is a clear tradition of dance as well. BelowI present two clips.The former is froma film called "Dadar Kirti". The latter is from the by now familiar "Alo": Enjoy!

Memorable Tagore Songs
Memorable Tagore Songs

Indrani Sen has been featured before in this lens, she is one of the best singers of Rabindrasangeet today. Her repertoire is extensive and her melodious voice is very soothing to hear.

 
Hriday Basanta Bone - Love Songs Of Tagore Vol-1
Hriday Basanta Bone - Love Songs Of Tagore Vol-1

Here is a medley of love songs by various artistes drawn primarily from the old school (before the80's). The styles have changed since then, but I for one,can still listen to them, time and again.

 
Rabindrasangeet on Violin
Rabindrasangeet on Violin

Rabindrasangeet can be enjoyed without words and this is a superbly played version of these melodies.

 

My personal reason for making this lens

Having lived all my life outside Bengal, I am a so-called Probashi Bengali (living outside Bengal) with all its implications. So,my knowledge of Bengali can be expected to be only perfunctory, and it is. Living outside Bengal, it is hard to get access to the latest expressions of people's imaginations in the market. But Rabindrasangeet is ageless. It is in listening to Rabindrasangeet that I feel entitled to call myself a Bengali. Listening to this music helps me experience, in whatever place I happen to be, my lost connection with the land that speaks my language. There is much more to Bengali music than Rabindrasangeet, but undoubtedly, this is one of the greatest of treasures of the same.

It is my love of this art form that I wish to share with others, like me, who have been born and live outside Bengal. Music is the language of the heart. Rabindrasangeet goes a long way to healing the heart, going by my own experience. . It is my desire, through this series of lenses, to create a forum, howsoever insignifcant, where Probashi Bengalis, among others, can listen to these melodies in diverse contexts, and let them enter and enrich their lives.

If you have comments and/or suggestions, I would love to have them. I promise to give them serious consideration.

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    • profile image

      Ayan 2 years ago

      Amazing work.. I truly appreciate!!!

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 3 years ago

      @k-s-venkataraghavan: You could try www.gitabitanarchive.net. It is a collection I can vouch for.

    • profile image

      k-s-venkataraghavan 3 years ago

      I don't understand bengali. I speak tamil. But the profound poetry of Shri Rabindra-nath,and the singing has stunned me... I am looking for complete collection of his songs.. any pointers?

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      SpiritualBee 5 years ago

      Excellent collection of memorable works by Rabindranath Tagore! Your lenses are a joy!

    • profile image

      NAnand 6 years ago

      Excellent compilation.

    • Dehiscent profile image

      Dehiscent 6 years ago

      Sir

      Once again, wonderful effort! Keep it up.

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 7 years ago

      @svkhereiam1: Thank you so much..If you have comments or would like to see other features, do please let me know..

    • svkhereiam1 profile image

      svkhereiam1 7 years ago

      brilliant! brilliant! I am going to favorite this lens. I just love Rabindrasangeet. Tagore's songs are, well, I don't have the words to describe them......I hope you will understand