Sounds from Bengal
A cultural festival intends to fuse old Hindi melodies, folk dance and Classical music with a plexi-glass 'see-tar' for a new audience
It's an exciting time for fans of Rabindranath Tagore. Apurba Bangla, a three-day Bengali art fest organised by Shahana, a non-profit organisation that has spent the last four decades acquainting Mumbai with the work and philosophy of the Nobel laureate, opens today.
Although the festival has been brought to niche audiences in the past, and limited to traditional Bengali art, this is the first time it will reach out to a larger audience by fusing the classical with the cool. It intends to give the city a mélange of music, dance, literature and Bengali philosophy, merging classical art forms with the contemporary.
However, planning an event of this kind always comes with its challenges. "Raising funds for any cultural event is always difficult. Demonetisation also hit us badly, but we were relentless and lucky to get the support of corporate houses, without whom this would not have been possible," says Anusree Bonnerjee, Biscotti Media, the event management firm working with Shahana.
"Justifying its meaning, Apurba Bangla will spread Bengali culture, the beauty of the Bangla language and art along with work of maestros, even in other languages," says vocalist Shurjo Bhattacharya, who will perform at the event.
The commanding shadow of Tagore and Raja Ram Mohan Roy loom large not just over Bengali culture and the past, but continue to be relevant in contemporary India. With this in mind, young, talented artistes have come together to perform classical compositions in contemporary styles.
The highlight is a performance titled Classicool, where musician Purbayan Chaterjee will play classics with a plexi-glass see-tar (sitar). The artiste says, "As a Bengali, I feel proud to get an opportunity to showcase it. We've been at the helm of cultural movements and, even today, it is heartening to see that musicians like Rhythm Shaw (one of the performers at the fest) are driving forces in the industry here."
AT: Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi
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What's in store?
Legends Come Alive: A concert featuring popular Hindi film songs and the music of Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Salil Choudhury.
ON: Tonight, 7.15 pm
Rustic Ensemble: The melodies and beats of Bengal and the Northeast come alive with Dohar, the famous folk group from Kolkata.
ON February 18, 7 pm
The Pied Pipers of India: Inspirational Tagore songs and poetry through Odissi dance, and a dance ballet based on Raja Ram Mohan Roy's work.
ON: February 19, 11 am
ClassiCool: Classical compositions in a contemporary and eclectic style with known performers.
ON: February 18, 7 pm