Bollywood Plays Rabindra Sangeet

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Soumita Saha
Soumita Saha

When I hear the words Rabindra Sangeet, I get nostalgic and remember Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore for me is connected to my childhood. We had some verses from his Geetanjali – Where the mind is without fear… as a prayer, which had to be sung every day. Since I am not a Bengali, I know only the information that was given to us by History books. He was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He refused Knighthood of Britain post the Jalianwala Baug incident. I have a lot of respect for him.
Tagore composed Rabindra Sangeet. Recently, we encountered Soumita Saha, the exponent of Rabindra Sangeet. We requested her to shed some light on Rabindra Sangeet, on which some Bollywood songs have been based and she kindly complied.
Rabindra Sangeet: Initially, let’s find out, what is Rabindra Sangeet. She told us, “Tagore’s songs, although quintessentially Bengali, were very original. Tagore’s music or Rabindra Sangeet represents the very essence of his artistic being. The sheer range and diversity of Tagore’s musical compositions make him unique. Tagore had the genius of adapting melodies and tunes from varied musical sources. The backbone of his composition is indubitably lyrics. In case of Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet and Carnatic Music, the raga determines the nature of lyrics. Take Raga Basant for instance. The words Koyalia, Phul and Rang are common in Raga Basant compositions. But, Tagore’s creations are absolutely different. He is considered as the magician of lyrics. His lyrics decided the tune and the dependence and influence of some specific raga.”
Nuances: Tagore’s songs cover the entire gamut of human emotions. Therefore, nature-wise his songs were broadly divided by the poet among several themes – love, devotion, seasons, occasion-specific and dance-drama compositions. In Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet, ragas have to abide by two criteria one is time another one is season. Tagore’s music shows a different kind of uniqueness. He created a couple of songs for the season autumn, which are based on Raga Bhairavi which is an early morning raga. You cannot sing that particular song on a summer evening. However, even if you ignore the time it is not a big deal as the lyrics are more important in Rabindra Sangeet.
Bollywood and Rabindra Sangeet: If you consider the songs that were inspired by Rabindra Sangeet and used in Bollywood, I would to say most composers have given the songs a tinge of fusion, therefore, you have the freedom to sing them anytime. I think this is one of the most amazing things about Bollywood songs that were composed on Rabindranath Tagore’s songs.
Bandhan khula panchhi udaa… Yug Purush (1998) Original Bengali song – Pagla hawar badol diney…
Phul phul bhawra doley… Pareenita (2005) Original Bengali song – Phuley phuley dhole dhole…
Man mera udta jaye badal ke sang… Maa Beta (1962) Original Bengali song – Monomor meghar shongi…
Tere mere milan ki yeh rain… Abhimaan (1973) Original Bengali Song – Jodi taare nai chini go sheki…
Chhukar mere man ko… Yaarana (1981) Original Bengali song Tomar holo shuru…
Koi jaise mere dil ka daar… Yug Purush (1998) Original Bengali song Tumi kemon korey gaan koro hey guni…
Koi asha ke deep… Prateeksha (2006) Original Bengali song Tumi kemon korey gaan koro hey guni…
Jalte hai jiske liye… Sujata (1959) Original Bengali song – Ekoda tumi priye…
Pawan chale zor… Zalzala (1952)

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