Bengalis in Bollywood

Bengalis have always been proud of their tradition, culture and intellect. It is true that there is no dearth of talent in Bengal. But people in Bengal also possess the tendency to over indulge in the feel good factor and in the process become cocooned in their shells. From the time I started understanding concepts like intellect and culture, I found that Bengalis are of the opinion that people in other parts of India are not able to judge them without bias, though every other talent comes out from the soil of Bengal or are Bengalis settled in other states.

Be it in literature, art, music, direction, we can go on citing examples of gems which Bengal has produced. From Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to  freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose to the Oscar winning Satyajit Ray, the list is endless.  Though they were renowned all across the globe, yet for some reason or the other, their talent was never given its due worth in India. Just like any other Bengali, as I started to grow up, the idea that Bengalis are not properly recognized in India started creeping in my mind. With so many years of nurturing, the idea has become an integral part of me now.

However, in recent times, I feel the trend has changed a bit. For instance, if we take the case of Bollywood cinema and music, we can see that from the beginning itself, the Bengalis have carved a niche for themselves. We have had movie directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee creating masterpieces like Golmaal, Chupke Chupke, Anand, Abhimaan, Rajnigandha, Khoobsuraat, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and many more. We still have a bunch of talented directors like Pradeep Sarkar, Anurag Basu and Shoojit Sircar making movies worth watching. The Bollywood music scene has been blessed by names like Salil Chowdhury, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Kumar Sanu, Pankaj Mullick, Bappi Lahiri, Shreya Ghosal notwithstanding geniuses like S.D.Burman, R.D.Burman and Kishore Kumar, who boast of the Bengali lineage. The most prominent addition to this list, according to me is Bonnie Chakraborty.

Bonnie Chakraborty is the singer behind the immensely experimental and successful song, Emosanal Atyachaar from the movie DevD. Though he has his own vision of music and does not belong to the so called Bollywood fraternity, yet, in recent times, it can be stated that he is the only ‘find’ amongst male singers in Bollywood. His exceptional voice quality and versatility can be gauged from both the versions of Emosanal Atyachaar song. The first one is the Brass Band version, fully bindaas and over the top, having extreme mass appeal. It is a song which will be liked by one and all, from the autowallas to the music pundits. However, the rock version of the song is the one which I like more. Everything about the song is awesome, be it the music blend, the tune or the singing. Bollywood music has hardly experienced any proper Rock song. The vacuum has been now filled by this single, mind blowing song. What made me all the more astonished is the way Bonnie Chakraborty has rendered his voice in both the versions. When I heard the Brass Band version and came to know it was sung by him, it was quite hard for me to relate him as the same voice behind ‘Prithibita Naki Chhoto’. One is intentional raw, loud and over the top singing while the other is subtle, lyrical and pure rock. What a prolific singer he is! Though he no longer stays in Bengal and is not part of the Bengali band Krosswindz, yet he made me immensely proud in being a Bengali. It is heartwarming to know that he is working with reputed and talented music directors including A.R.Rahman. Hope and pray to see him at the helm of Bollywood music.