Monday, April 27, 2009

Retrospection is painful : Some words on Ruma Guha Thakurta

Once upon a time when I was regular vocalist of Calcutta Youth Choir and used to sing the Bengali version of Paul Robeson’s version of Ol’ Man River, have seen Rumadi crying emotionally as she use to sing the song from the core point of her heart and let the audience become spellbound of the performance. But on 16th Feb 2009's show I was just an audience and have seen Rumadi crying soon after she started singing this song. This time I feel the tears from hers eyes was somehow different. The tears from her eyes were due to the inability of her ruthless old age where she can’t hit the high notes of this song which was once the identity for her. Moreover due to her deteriorating health condition she might have been assuming that soon she had to retire from all this.

It was 1989; I was a guy of 10 years and have seen Rumadi for the first time performing along with Calcutta Youth Choir. I was astonished to see that fantastic show with a composition of various song and dances. Since that day I became a complete admirer of her and used to view and listen her performance regularly in the TV and radio respectively.

In the year 1997, I came in touch with Rumadi personally. I used to go to her music class on every Saturday. After a few months I became a regular member of the choir. Yes, Rumadi’s personality which was the main reason which make the mark of CYC worldwide. She is not a singer only but a versatile genius lady with all qualities in her. A dancer, a coreographer, an actress, and also a successful mother in her personal family life.

If we go back to late 50's to late 90's we can see some remarkable performance of Ruma Guha thakurta in Bengali movies. The most popular song and dance in POLATAK [] or in the movie BENARASI []. She also had a multiphase music talent. She is most popular for her mass song and choir songs. But one should hear her bengali adhunik songs in the movie Antoni Firengee and Ashi(80) te Ashoiona with Manna Dey. Rumadi also recorded a few Rabindra Sangeet from HMV in early 60's. Here I have s glimps of Rabindrasangeet in the movie PANCHARSHAR directed by Arup Guha Thakurta. The most popular rabindrasangeet by her, the one with Uttam Kumar in the movie Jodi Jantem. The song was "Sukher Majhe Tomai Dekhechi". In Satyajit Ray's two movies, "Baksha Badal" and "Teen Kanya" Rumadi sang a few Rabindrasangeets. Yes also an unforgettable one in the movie "Lukochoori" with Kishore Kumar "Mayabanabiharini Harini". In the same movie we all know the most popular romantic duet for the last 50 years "Ei To Hethai Kunjachayai". She is a legend in her own right. Indeed having severe problem in her backbone I was shocked to hear that she will be performing in Mira Nair's "The Namesake". I rushed in the nearest movie hall in Mumbai on the very fast day when the movie was released to see her and yet from that day I trust about the mental strenght and which can really move a person.

Rumadi, a lady who had acted for more than 60 years, the first movie "Jawar Bhata" in 1944 and the last movie "The Namesake" in 2006. A few months back I was watching an interview of Rumadi by Koushani Roy in Zee TV. I was wondering, is this Rumadi? then how is it possible that she forgetting sometimes that the camera is front of her and speaking sometimes out of topic.

Since that day I started visualizing myself at my old age. Might be I have achieved a target in my life in my professional career but whats the use as now I realize material world really makes us too selfish in parental relations. I still remember the day when I said Rumadi that I got job and leaving Calcutta. She only told me that “Biraj I don’t think it is good decision as you mother is not alive and father is alone here in Kolkata. But its your choice now.” Six years passed by now I am in Mumbai as my career demands that. I still never miss any annual show of the choir. But every time my heart fills with sorrow when I see my co-members singing on the stage and again I became one audience only.

Listen this song of the choir

Friday, April 10, 2009

Living in harmony

To celebrate 50 years of Calcutta Youth Choir, a musical extravaganza was hosted at Rabindra Sadan. Ruma Guha Thakurta, film personality and the founder of the organization, herself turned seventy-five and thus was felicitated.
Calcutta Youth Choir, which can be considered a Kolkata Chapter of the Bombay Youth Choir, was formed by renowned music composer Salil Chowdhury, Ruma Guha Thakurta and Satyajit Ray in 1958. The versatile singer and actress has also completed 50 years in the music industry ~ she had recorded Ei To Hetay Kunjo Chhayay (Lukochuri) with Kishore Kumar in 1958.
The Rabindra Sadan programme was simply a trip down memory lane. It started with a solo dance recital based on Prathamo Aadi Taabo Shakti and was followed by a group dance recital based on Taak Raahe Ho Gagan, composed by YS Moolky. A special song ~ Din Badaler Abhijaane, penned and composed by Kazi Kamal Naser ~ to celebrate the glorious journey was presented. The song Teler Shishi Bhanglo Bole reminded everyone of the pain the Partition brought. Penned by Annada Shankar Roy and composed by Salil Chowdhury, the song was played as a part of the dance sequence presented by the junior members of Youth Choir’s dance group. The coordinator of the programme, Kalyan Roy Chowdhury, announced that the group will soon release on Saregama, a Rabindrasangeet album in Hindi. One song ~ Ek Dor Mein ~ from the album was performed on the occasion.
The late Salil Chowdhury is the father figure when it comes to choir singing in India. Calcutta Youth Choir reiterated this aspect time and again.
One of the highpoints of the programme was Ruma Guha Thakurta and Sromona singing Bistirno Dupaare. O Ganga Tumi reminded one of Paul Robeson’s version of Ol’ Man River.