About 3 or 4 years ago on a cool and breezy monsoon day here in Mumbai, I was busy searching the internet for some new songs. I was sitting on my balcony, the dark monsoon sea stretching out in the front, and the distant lights of the Mumbai ships and the city forming small glittering dots all around.
Most of the English and Hindi tracks were already known, so I typed in ‘Bengali’ in the keyword for the search.
As I sat there in the quiet and soulful hours much past midnight, I saw a track that I had not yet heard of, but one that came popping up in all my searches.
I tried using a few different words, but the same song was popping up everywhere. Just the fact that it was mentioned everywhere and came up in every search I did was enough reason for me to give it an ear.
Before this, I don’t remember the last Bengali song I had heard, or enjoyed, or learnt enough to sing along. I don’t remember any song actually. Maybe one or two that I had heard sometime when I visited Calcutta as a kid, but even then, there were no Bengali songs that I could say I knew or could sing.
I clicked on the song. The video had a very sepia feel to it. And these frames are of course a pull for me. So I was glued on instantly. As the music began, I could feel a stirring, I could feel a pull. There was something magical happening here, something different.
Just as the song started, a lone voice came over and said something in my ears. He was speaking of himself, of his own existence, his own identity. He was not speaking of me. But he was speaking of me. I knew it instantly that the person he was speaking of in the song was actually also me.
I was at a critical junction in my life at that time, and that voice, those words, and the entire creation – the song – came to me as a blanket of faith in myself, as a reminder that I needed to maintain my own identity, come what may. I was going through a rough phase in life then, and as I listened to more and more of the words and the music and the voice, I could feel that somewhere, it was all coming true for me.
Listening to the song that night, for the first time, sitting across and looking out at the sea while everyone else was somewhere far away from me, I knew I was not alone, even if I may have felt like it then. I knew this was a song that would remain with me for ever. This would be a song that would make me realise the importance of the ‘me’, as well as the ‘we.’ I may not do exactly what the song said it would do for its voice, but I may do some of it.
I looked up the song and I had to, had to, watch the movie after that. Before the movie, of course, I had listened to the song for about close to a hundred times on loop mode on my phone. It was the first time in my life that I had listened to a Bengali song, had in fact tried to learn the words, even though initially I did not understand all of it, and then, in a first for me, I actually learnt the entire song and could sing along. It was also the first time that I watched a Bengali movie, something I do not remember having done in a long long time, at least not in the near past before that.
That year, the song went on to sweep almost all Bengali music and movie awards. It got the awards in the best lyrics, best music and best singer category. The music, as I experienced soon, was the soul of the movie.
And till date, the movie has bagged a record number of awards. It is one of the best forms of cinema you can ever experience, and I am not talking in the limiting terms of ‘regional cinema’, but cinema in its entirety.
It was not till quite a few months later that I actually got to know about the man who made it all possible.
The song is Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao, and the person who made me fall in love with Bengali music, and in a way open to Bengali movies, is none other than Anupam Roy.
And yes, one more person I absolutely must thank is Srijit Mukherji, the debutant director who made this film a reality, the person who made it all happen, so to speak. Thank you Mr. Srijit Mukherjee! (And of course I have been watching all his movies now, as soon as they release here in Mumbai.)
I can never thank Anupam Roy enough, or tell him in so many words how he helped me through those times when almost all was lost to me. But I can surely tell him this – that with that one song and all the others that followed, and as a person too, I truly cherish knowing his music and knowing him.
Thankful I am.
And wish you a very happy birthday! (it's just coming up in a few minutes) :-)
- Debolina Raja Gupta