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Of moon and more

The Bangla band Chandrabindoo is keen on reaching a wide audience through a brand of music all its own

PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

MIX AND MATCH The troupe puts together rock, reggae, calypso, hip-hop and Bengali folk

The Bangla band Chandrabindoo has a clean sound, has tight and compact compositions and a good sense of humour in its lyrics. The band has had a very good run from the time it was set up in 1989. While one of its albums, Cho, has sold more than two lakh copies, their other albums, Aar Jani Na, Gadha and Twaker Jatna Nin, have also been very popular. The band does an average of 20 shows a month and is now looking to acquire a national presence.

Chandrabindoo, a household name in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai, is making its first foray into the South. The band presented two concerts in Hyderabad and one in Bangalore recently. Their concert in Bangalore, their first here, drew tremendous appreciation from the audience.

Regional phenomenon

Vocalist Anindya acknowledges that the band is making waves but points out that it is predominantly among a Bengali audience. "We are doing shows in major metropolitan cities in India. We need to do more in the South. For instance, we haven't done a single show in Kerala yet. Where we are doing well, we are doing well among Bengali audiences. That may be because we are more a regional phenomenon." Anindya feels it would be exciting for the band to reach out to a wider audience. "We don't know how to go about it. We have to search for a new path."

But Chandrabindoo, set up in 1989, has had to work hard to establish itself even among Bengali audiences. "A decade back, no one would have wanted to listen to band music. At that time, fortunately, Suman Chattopadhyay laid the foundation for others to follow. When he got popular with his guitar and vocals, it created space for bands. That's how we are here." That is also how bands like Bhoomi and Cactus arrived. The three bands, among others, by the late '90s and early 2000, had become symptomatic of band culture in Kolkata.

Anindya says the last two to three years has seen a phenomenal growth of bands in colleges in Kolkata. There are many rock, pop, metal and folk bands competing on campuses. Anindya puts it down to the changing culture of urban music. While the band Mohiner Ghoraguli (which literally means "horses of Mohin") had even by 1970s brought influences as diverse as jazz, blues, rock 'n' roll, country music and Bengali folk forms to the urban audience, the '80s and '90s saw a revival of Adhunik (modern) and partly Rabindra Sangeeth. The mid- and late '90s saw the return of Western styles adopted in Bengali, but with very different cultural references. Suman's Bengali version of Paul Simon's "Sound of Silence" is seen as a landmark in '90s Bengali music.

Chandrabhoomi, a product of the revival, has been working hard to evolve its own sound. The band describes its sound now as a mixed, global sound. "We put together rock, reggae, calypso, hip-hop and Bengali folk. I think it is unique. Bhoomi is folk-oriented and Cactus is Bangla rock. We don't follow any one genre in its purest form," says Anindya.

Suman's influence

The band also brings a lot of satire into its lyrics, a factor that makes it very attractive to the audiences. The lyrics, very contemporary, capture politics, social life and relationships in great humour, which probably is the signature of Bangla band music, post-'90s. While Goutam Chattopadhyay of the early 1970s has been an inspiration, Anindya identifies Suman as the genius of his generation. "He has had a tremendous influence on me. His lyrics and style of music carry a delicate and distinct flavour. Chandrabindoo is trying to prevent influences of Suman creeping too much into its music because no one should copy his sound. If you don't have your own sound, no one will respect you. I like him a lot but when I have a song it should be my song."

* * *

honest music

Soon after Chandrabindoo's act, Nachiketa Chakroborty, one of the most popular singers in Bengal, put in a very entertaining performance. Nachiketa, who is inspired by Lata Mangeshkar on the one hand and Che Guevera on the other, peppered his songs and speech on love, relationships and politics with a lot of humour. "In each of these entertainment is important, but there should also be commitment, seriousness and honesty in what you communicate. If you are honest about what you want to say, people will like it. They can see it in your eye," says Nachiketa of his style of performance.

PRASHANTH G.N.

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