Why Mamata Banerjee, ahead of Durga Puja, released her own music album

Bengal chief minister recently launched an album titled after a popular radio programme, Anurodher Ashor, penned and composed by her.

 |  3-minute read |   30-08-2017
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It was supposed to be a nostalgic rewind down the hollow horn of a vintage gramophone. A look back to the 1960s, '70s and '80s, when Durga Puja meant many more things other than pandals, lights and the razzmatazz — release of puja albums (music records of famous singers), the crisp feel of puja magazines, bundles of starched tant sarees and new clothes.

With a month left for Bengal’s great annual festival — Durga Puja, chief minister Mamata Banerjee was trying to walk down memory lane and present an evening where Kolkata people would get a whiff of the kaash flowers and the sounds of melodies, long lost.

Titled after a popular radio programme, Anurodher Ashor, (songs on request), Mamata’s recap exercise and brush with the songs of yesteryear turned out to be an occasion for the release of her own puja album — Matri Ma, a compilation of songs — lyrics penned and music composed by her.

“She was planning a big launch of her own album and it would have looked odd if a government programme would have been dedicated for this occasion.

So she roped in singers both from the past and the present and organised this event,” said a state government official in the know of things.

The two-hour long programme gave some flashes of the big hits of the past and the present, adequately peppered with the chief minister’s composition. Though the audience patiently sat through, having to listen to Didi’s creative outpourings, there were some outbursts: “Where are the songs of the golden years?” or “where are the requests?”

Jhulan Goswami had just returned after her outstanding spinning feat. And there were many, many more from other fields. But the presence from the glamour world had a mesmerising impact on the “Kanyashree” girls (girls pursuing higher studies with government stipend instead of getting married early) who could never imagine coming so close to their dream.

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The idea of an album struck Mamata’s fancy during one of her tours to the Hills. With an early dusk setting in, Mamata didn’t know what to do with a long evening. Indranil Sen, who is also a noted singer, in her retinue, came to the rescue. He organised a game of antakshari which later turned out to be his soirée, as he belted out one number after another at the chief minister’s request. It was an evening that filled Mamata’s heart, but more importantly, it helped to reinstate Indranil Sen back to his old department— Information and Culture, from which he was unceremoniously removed a few months ago.

The singer-turned minister was obliged and as a gesture of gratitude, he promised to gift Mamata such musical evenings from his departmental budget, which will be her stress-buster. “Anurodher Ashor” was one such evening. Meanwhile, the chief minister’s recent interest in writing songs and composing music for them gave the I&C minister and people close to her the idea to push her for an album. 

After all, it would be a new feather in her creative cap, now that she has 69 books of prose and poetry and even rhyme books to her credit. Some more sojourns to the Hills and some more evenings with the synthesiser, which the chief minister loves to play while singing, Matri-Ma was getting life and lift.

The launch was for everyone to see. The department spent close to Rs 20 lakhs for an evening. True, several thousand got to witness and be part of the grand ceremony, but the question remains as to who comprised the audience.

Bus and truck-loads of Trinamool Congress supporters were driven in as cheerleaders, who kept applauding Mamata, wishing her long life, at times going mushy with their allegiance, making even Mamata blush. Kudos to Ma-Maati-Manush, or so the chief minister said as her ultimate Muse for making “Matri-Ma” happen.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

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Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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