Kolkata: A politician, a firebrand orator, a painter, a poetess, and now, a music composer. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who released her debut music album Sunday, dons many hats.
The album, which she launched at an event Sunday, is called ‘Utsaber Gaan’ (festival songs). It contains eight songs she’s written and composed, including one she’s sung with West Bengal minister Indranil Sen as well as Bengali singer and Trinamool legislator Aditi Munshi.
“All the lyrics and compositions are by honorable Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and she herself has sung the song Tak dumadum. She has been composing songs for 10 years now,” Sen, the state’s information and culture minister, told ThePrint.
‘Tak dumadum’ refers to the rhythm of the dhak (drum), played at Durga Puja.
Apart from Sen and Munshi, the others featured on the album are state Tourism Minister Babul Supriyo, singers Jeet Gannguli, Sriradha Bandyopadhyay, Monomoy Bhattacharya, Trisha Parui, and Chandrika. The album was released at an event organised by TMC’s mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ to unveil the puja edition of its magazine’s editorials and reports.
Mamata, who’s penned more than a hundred books — including books of poetry — is known to be a patron of arts.
“The chief minister composes songs during her travels. She often sends me voice notes on WhatsApp with the lyrics and tune and then we put the song together,” Sen told ThePrint.
The minister is an acclaimed singer himself and is the CM’s top pick when it comes to music, even at government events.
“In my 42 years as a singer, I have never come across someone like Mamata Banerjee, who thinks about music and composes songs the way she does. This after handling the entire state and 344 blocks. It proves that her first love is art and culture,” Sen said.
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‘Beautifully written, with a touch of modern rock’
Jeet Gannguli, who’s also a music composer, told ThePrint that this was the first time he’d sung a song composed by someone other than him.
“It was a superb feeling. For the first time I sang a song composed by Didi, which was beautifully written with a touch of modern rock,” he told ThePrint. “The tune was great, the lyrics were great. I recorded the song in Mumbai and sent it across. I’m very grateful she picked me.”
Gannguli, who is preparing for a concert in the US, said santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma had once told him that one can’t learn to be a composer.
“It must come from within. You can train to play an instrument or learn sargam (melody) but composing songs is a talent. Mamata Didi has the melody within, she has the quality and deep understanding of the tune and tone. This was a memorable experience for me,” he further said, adding he would sing the song for his fans.
The album’s Sunday release also had some interesting moments. Such as the time when Mamata, who was inaugurating Kolkata mayor and urban development minister Firhad Hakim’s Chetla Agrani Durga Puja, admonished Supriyo, a singer-turned-politician and former Union minister who was made a minister in her cabinet last month, for not singing “from his heart”.
Supriyo had missed the launch of the album, but had attended Hakim’s puja event that was held later in the day.
“You are busy singing your own songs and you forget mine,” Mamata told Supriyo, who had also released his own album ‘Joy Maa Durga’ earlier in the day. “I’ve seen, you’ve not sung my song from your heart.”
The moment was recorded on a Facebook Live.
“I was honoured [that] Mamata Banerjee released my album on the same day,” Supriyo told ThePrint. “And when such an important person is part of the big day, you tend to get preoccupied, and unfortunately I missed the ‘Jago Bangla’ event. But that’s how Mamata Banerjee is. She’s [so] compassionate that she can jokingly tell us [off] from a place of authority with the mic in her hand.”
Supriyo, who’s known for popular Bollywood songs such as ‘Dil ne dil ko Pukara’, and ‘Chanda Chamke’, called the Bengal CM a musician from the heart.
“There is very little difference between politics and music,” he said.
At a press conference that she addressed on 31 August, Mamata had said that she has been writing poetry since she was in the fifth grade.
“I know there are many memes on me on social networking sites, I know. On YouTube, CPIM, Congress, and BJP mock me. What is the problem if I paint? I encourage you to paint as well,” she had told the media. “What can I do if I write the moment I hold a pen or paint the moment I hold a paintbrush? I’m a learner; I learn new things every day. I sing, I encourage you also to sing. In my free time, which I rarely get, I love to do creative things.”
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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