Nothing defines Bangaliana (The art of being Bengali) more than the love for food and music. To the outside world Bengali music may all be about Rabindrasangeet, but in reality it’s much more than that. In the 90s, Kabir Suman brought a tectonic shift in the Bengali music industry. His jeebonmukhi gan (music for life) swayed an entire generation. It inspired many to take up music, to articulate their issues, to lend voices to the youth. Along with jeebonmukhi gan, came the era of Bangla band. For youths graduating from Doordarshan to MTV, Bangla band (Bengali rock music) came as a welcome change. It represented their collective angst, gave vent to popular sentiments. Times have changed, boys have become men. But popularity of the Bangla bands lingers on. The lead singer of one of the most famous bands Bhoomi (Earth, song of the land) has decided to take the plunge in elections.
Singer in the fray
Soumitra Roy, of Bhoomi, has decided to contest in a Trinamool ticket from Maldah North constituency. Unlike most of the bands, Bhoomi always stood its ground for being distinctly different in sense and sound. It did not tried to depict the West blindly. As the name suggests, it connects to the roots. It tries to tailor the tunes of Baul, Bhatiali and other popular LokoSangeet (Folk music) forms of Bengal to urban sensibilities. Thus Bhoomi’s songs have always been more about melody than lyrics. Soumitro has stood out not only for his heartfelt renditions but also for his quirky dress sense and inhibited energy during performance. Age hasn’t certainly mellowed him. He along with his other lead singer Surojit has carved a niche for themselves in urban Bengal popular music. Bhoomi’s most popular songs are Tomar Dekha nei re, Kande Sudhu Mon amar kande, Madhur madhur chaoni etc. Its biggest moment of glory came when it was invited to perform at United Nations, a feat no other Bengali bands has achieved yet.
Soumitra though an urbane person originally belongs to Harischandrapur, a place belonging to Malda North. Thus contesting from here is a homecoming for the popular singer. St Xaviers school and college alumnus Soumitra though is in for a tough battle in his home constituency. Unlike most seats it is not a TMC pocket borough. The congress has a sizeable presence here with sitting M.P Mausam Benazir Noor having the added advantage of being Gani Khan’s kin. Former Union Rail minister Gani Khan enjoyed an unprecedented goodwill here for starting slew of rail projects and bringing Malda to the political map. CPIM always has its traditional vote bank to rely upon. Being a border area, BJP is also no pushover here. Thus in a four-cornered election, Soumitra certainly will not get any leeway. Newspaper reports suggest that the local party unit of TMC is unsatisfied with Soumitra being airdropped to contest the election. They believe that leaders working in grassroot level should have been rewarded.
Soumitra though seems to be unperturbed by these criticisms. Politics runs in his genes. Both his grandfather and grandmother were congress M.P. Though hailing from a traditional bonedi (aristrocratic) family, the singer is almost philosophical in his views. He knows it will be the charisma of Mamata didi which can get him to the pole positions. He plans to conduct his campaign in a low key manner. There is unlikely to be a deluge of singers, actors or other celebrities to support Soumitra. Other band members of Bhoomi are likely to pitch in though.
In his campaign, he is crooning his hit songs to enthral voters. Will we get to see the cheery smiling rockstar on May 16th ? Only time will tell…….