The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

The music release of ‘Praktan’

“Ghum bhange Esplanade
Khola bhange Chine badam
Chena kon ghaasher daag
Shuye thaka ki araam
Kolkata, tumi-o hente dyakho
Kolkata, tumi-o bhebe dyakho
Jaabe ki na jaabe amar sathe”

The city of Kolkata has become a character in numerous Bengali films till date. An apt example in recent times would be ‘Kahaani’(which was technically not a Bengali film albeit its unmistakable Bengaliness). But we are yet to come across a film which romances the city in the true sense.

The wait was over as the first song from the eagerly-awaited May ’16 release Praktan was released in the social media in April. It is called the ‘Kolkata’ song, an excerpt of whose lyric is in the beginning of this post. The protagonist Ujaan (played by Prosenjit), in this movie directed by the famous duo Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay-Nandita Roy, is a tour guide in the city who has an undying love for the city and prefers calling himself an explorer.

The song, penned and composed by Anupam Roy and sung by himself and Shreya Ghosal was lapped up instantly. I loved the melodious composition and the wonderful lyric, not to say the mellifluous voice of Anupam and the infectious charm of Shreya. I sorely miss the pure romance in contemporary Bangla cinema (the last romantic tale I loved was Antaheen in 2009), so finding solace in the lines “Khunje dite na parle aari/ Amar Byomkesh Bakshir bari/ Tawbei tomar katha/ Kolkata Kolkata/ Sawbkichhu mene nite pari” took no time.

The invitation to the music release was therefore instantly accepted. As I settled down in a sultry afternoon at South City Mall on 27th April, the media and the crowd had started gathering.

The show started a little late. Meanwhile, the trailer of the film (Released earlier on YouTube) was being played time to time. Somak, the emcee took the stage first and conducted a quiz about the cast and the director duo.

 The trailer being played on the backdrop with a screen

Among the known faces from the cast, crew and music team, Aparajita Adhya turned up first, followed by Anupam and Anindya Chatterjee. Shiboprosad came little later and took the stage reluctantly as he was called by the emcee (he wanted to go up with his co-director Nandita). He shared with us the experience of making the film which was conceived in 2002 (long before they debuted with Ichchhe). From the beginning the lead cast was locked as Prosenjit and Rituparna, but they had just stopped doing movies together following irreconcilable differences. The film finally got rolling last year when the director duo, now with seven films behind them, got a nod on the story idea from the actors who had buried the hatchet sometime back and were waiting to make a comeback with the right film.

 Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay

He also shared the ‘firsts’ for Praktan- from shooting with a helicam on Kolkata streets to Eros, one of the leading studios in Mumbai, backing the film (Eros started taking a long term interest in the director duo as they did the national distribution of their last year’s blockbuster Belasheshe). He also shared later that this was for the first time after Ray’s Nayak that a whole train was used for shooting a movie, and he thanked eminent production designer Nitish Roy (also known as the husband of Nandita Roy) for this. Also as a first, the movie will have a same day-release in 40 centres across India (I guess West Bengal is excluded in it). Shiboprosad was joined by Nandita who is a lady of few words and prefers her work to do the talking.

After a quick round on stage with members of the cast and the musical team who were present (the lead actors were yet to come), the presenter of the film Atanu Raychaudhuri, producer Probhat Roy and co-producer Pranab Guha (of Ardor Entertainments) were called on stage. Shiboprosad, in his short speech earlier took pride in the fact that this was a film completely made by a group of Bengalis (from producers to directors). Atanu, a barrister by profession, talked about his satisfactory association of five films with Shiboprosad (starting with Muktodhara in 2012). The producer and the co-producer have either started off with this film or Belasheshe. It is nice to see Shiboprosad handholding various Bengali businessmen/ professionals into becoming first time producers as his success run continues. Bengali cinema needs more and more such backers. 

The director duo, the cast and the musical team

The directors with Atanu Raychaudhuri and Probhat Roy (Third and fourth from left)

Somak called the musical team on stage again- Anupam, Anindya, Imon Chakraborty (a new playback singer) and Surojit who have made five songs (including two versions of one song) between them. All the singers other than Imon have also acted in the film, playing themselves. Anindya put on record that his first playback and first work as a composer have both been in Shiboprosad-Nandita’s films (Ichchhe and Aleek Sukh respectively). Surojit talked about his work as a composer with the director duo in Ichchhe and Muktodhara. He also revealed that many songs had been rejected before he recorded Radharaman Dutta’s Bhromor as a singer after Shiboprosad had suggested it one night.

(Left to right) Upal, Anindya, Imon, Anupam and Surojit

It was the time for some live music. Anupam came back on stage and as a nice gesture, he called his musicians and introduced them. One of them said that unlike the current practice in the recording studio, they mostly played along live at the time of recording.

Anupam and his musicians including Ratul Shankar (third from left)

Next, Anupam enthralled the thick crowd with his ‘Kolkata’ song. Prosenjit and Rituparna arrived as the performance was on and they joined the singer. Rituparna hummed and moved her hands to the tune of the song to show how much it was close to her heart.

Anupam singing the 'Kolkata' song

 Rituparna, Anupam (singing the 'Kolkata' song) and Prosenjit

Song over, the actors who united after fifteen years for this film shared their take on the film and the characters they portrayed. Prosenjit said he wasn’t aware of a profession like the one he has in the film and it was indeed a good service to the city.

Iman Chakraborty impressed with her soulful rendition of Tumi jaake bhalobaso- a tragic romantic number written and composed by Anupam his inimitable style. This song was also released on social media before this event.

Iman Chakraborty snging Tumi jaake bhalobaso

Moner guptochawr- best described as a Chandrabindoo-style fun romantic number penned and composed by Anindya was belted out by him, preceded by the introduction of his musicians which included Upal. I saw Rishona, Rituparna’s daughter, enjoying herself dancing to the tune at the side of the stage.

Anindya in performance with Moner guptochawr (his musicians behind him)

Rishona (Rituparna's daughter) enjoying herself

Bhromor is a kirtan-style tragic song and Surajit did complete justice to it. Anupam wrapped up the performances with his version of Tumi jaake bhalobaso.

Surojit singing Bhromor

A contest was organized where the participants had to sing the ‘Kolkata’ song and send it by Whatsapp. As promised, the three winners were called on stage and they got to sing the song along with Anupam.

 Anupam with the contest winners 

The album was unveiled hereafter amid great cheer. It has been brought out by a start-up named Amara Muzik which started off earlier with Bastushaap (a January 2016 release). Prosenjit broke into an impromptu jig first with the child artist in the movie, then with Rishona.

Rituparna and Prosenjit unveiling the music album

Rishona has a dance partner in Prosenjit 

Goodricke, a partner to the film, interacted with the crowd through getting them to share their tea-related experiences and participate in fun activities like tong twister at their stall. They also sampled their Roasted Darjeeling Tea, which was a strong brew, unlike the familiar Darjeeling tea.

Looking forward to the release of the movie on 27th May.

#Praktan #PraktanMusic #KolkataSong #BengaliMusic #BengaliCinema

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