Ode to a Ganwala: Suman Chatterjee/Kabir Suman

Rarely you follow a maestro throughout his career - either he is too senior than you and you just get to see the fading glory at max. Or at the other end - he is yet to be identified as a great.

Suman Chatterjee (ahh he is Kabir Suman now) is kinda exception. I guess when I first heard him I was hardly 14 or 15. Those days we had a Sanyo 2-in-1 (cassette player + radio with Mono sound) in our home. My dad was a Rabindrasangeet buff. One day he somehow got this album "Tomake Chai" (~I need you anywhere everywhere - this might not be the best translation and can be interpreted in so many other ways) and on one sweet evening we listened to "Tomake Chai" for the first time.

It touched the chord of an early-teen easily. This became my window to the other world which I didn’t have access till then. He talked about Dylan (whose name only figured in some quiz book or the other till then) and he sang Dylan. He talked about changing the world - not in whispering voice but he actually shouted "palte dewar sopno amar akhono galona" (I still dream of changing this world).

Being a student of the early 70's and being one of the few dreamers I have met till now, my Dad also somewhere in his life dreamt of changing this world. Though it never changed the way he thought. But "palte dewar sopno amar akhono galona" was kinda talking his self. Talking about Dreams of 70's was not (and still is not) the most politically correct way of communication in my country. But this guy dared to break the monotony. And he thought we still got a chance to change it - "Hal chero na" (Don't let it go - we can make it). And we believed it and loved it. Me and my dad became sort of Suman fan.

This June 2008 I attended one of his concerts after a gap of 13 years. World did change in these 13 years.

Last week I attended a class on F E A R (thanks to Zig Ziglar, now I know it's an acronym - False Evidence Appearing Real :-)). Year back People fought fearlessly with the State to save their land. 2 years back I bought my own car and these days I can reach office in around 30 minutes thanks to the swift hands of my driver. Year back People gathered arms and cut-off a village from rest of the State for months till the State says they are not going to throw them out of their land and build an Industry. Last month (and still it's on) we cribbed among our friends when the petroleum prices soared high. People stopped cribbing when Inflation reached record high. In some other Management class, I wrote my Goal statement - own a BMW in 20 years. People keeps on pelting stones at the car factory being built on their land and Police looses confidence reigning in angry mob in the city. I shouted at my manager when the project looked under-staffed (and got appreciated for that in Annual Appraisal!!!). People came out with a silent-rally to protest against State.

I went to the concert on June 2008. He was at his best. He openly expressed his solidarity with the Mao-ists. He played his guitar and encouraged the audience to sing along. He touched the Synthesiser like a magician and mesmerized the audience. He sang folk songs (Baul) and "Tomake Chai".

But while coming out of the concert, I felt I liked the performance but I was not touched by it - that's really a subtle difference - sometimes too subtle for me these days. It was not the same thing which had touched me 13 years back in one of the packed stadiums. I didn't feel he was talking about My World. It was some other world which I don't belong to. Wasn't he too loud? Was he not talking non-sense most of the time? Was he a bit rude to the audience? Was he way past his glory and losing confidence in his acumen? Is he getting too old? Or did I change too much and lost touch with the World which I used to think was My World?

Performances in some other concert:

Kotota Poth Perole Por (Blowin in the wind):

Hal Chero Na:

Was Suman the utlimate Marketer of Tea? Click here to read.

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