Pulled away from Cal

Aug 07, 2018, 07:16 IST | Shunashir Sen

Six Kolkatans, now based in Mumbai, have formed the newest Hindi rock band in town

Pulled away from Cal
Nathan Patra

There was a time when Kolkata was a desirable place for musicians to settle in. People arrived at Howrah station with instruments in hand, hoping to find a slot in Trinca's or one of the numerous other venues on Park Street. The likes of Usha Uthup, Biddu and Louiz Banks cut their teeth there, before becoming household names later on. But that was decades ago. Over the years, a number of factors — such as the dark era of Naxalism in the '70s and heavy government taxation — have turned the city into a ghost of its past. And things have in fact come to such a pass that instead of it being a desirable place for them, local musicians are now packing their bags for greener pastures, like Mumbai.

Take the members of Pull, for example — a new alternative Hindi rock act that will play its debut gig this week. All the six band mates are originally from Kolkata. Of them, Nathan Patra was the first to settle down in Mumbai, in 2011, with the rest following suit one by one till Bijit Bhattacharya, the bassist, finally arrived here eight months earlier. They all knew each other, or at least of each other, from their days back home. And the seeds of the band were sown when keyboardist Ritwik Ghosh, vocalist Debanjan Dhar and Patra, who plays the guitar, decided to join forces as a trio last year.

"Ritwik reached out to me first saying, 'Hey, Debanjan has moved here from Cal [short for Calcutta]. Why don't we do something together?' So we started off with acoustic sets at a couple of house parties, and felt that the vibe was really fresh. But we were missing a drummer. So we brought Debatra [Ghosh] on board. Then Bijit shifted to Bombay.

(From left) Ritwik Ghosh, Debatra Ghosh, Bijit Bhattacharya, Debanjan Dhar, Nathan Patra and Sujan Sengupta, the members of Pull
(From left) Ritwik Ghosh, Debatra Ghosh, Bijit Bhattacharya, Debanjan Dhar, Nathan Patra and Sujan Sengupta, the members of Pull

He's actually a lot more senior to us, having been a part of the circuit for over 10 years. We met him through Sujan [Sengupta, a friend] and asked him whether he'd like to join our band. He agreed. And then Sujan, too, joined us as a guitarsist, which means we are now a formally crystallised six-piece outfit," Patra tells us.

What made them choose the medium of Hindi for their music, though? "Well, Debanjan makes most of his music in Hindi actually, and has a really good voice for it. So, since he writes all our lyrics, with the band later giving musical structure to the words, we decided to run with it," Patra shares, adding that though they do have plans of making English songs in the future, the ball is yet to start rolling in that direction.

Bijit Bhattacharya
Bijit Bhattacharya

And he then paints a bleak picture of the situation back home in Kolkata when we ask him about it. "The city is still stuck in the same '90s mindset of listening to a cover band at Someplace Else [one of the only surviving musical venues on Park Street], with things having deteriorated even further over the past two years. Bijit is actually one of the most practical cases I can think of. He moved to Bombay just for his music and tells us that the scene in Cal is as good as dead, with no one doing anything about it," Patra laments, showing how the ravages of time are sucking the life out of an erstwhile musical hub.

On: August 9, 8.30 pm to 11.30 pm
At: Hard Rock Cafe, Sharyans Audeu, Fun Cinema Lane, Andheri West.
Log on to: bookmyshow.com
Cost: Rs 500 (full cover)

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