Khoda Tomar Meherbani – Saif Zohan
Revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poems and songs landed him in trouble and inspired generations of freedom fighters to take up arms. But his softer side is often overlooked, much like this song that fit his words into a melodic form in a simple and appealing manner. ‘Khoda Tomar Meherbani’ is a celebration of the beautiful things in life that has been granted to us by god, from tasty fruits and pretty flowers to the sweet waters of rivers. Saif’s tender vocals shimmer effortlessly on the sole soundscape created by a piano. Truly, the pure essence of beauty that the words invoke doesn’t need anything else.
Dekhe Ja Re, Bosonto Batashe – Arko Mukhaerjee
In a tribute to the rural inhabitants of Bengal and the Sufi minstrels of Bangladesh, Arko Mukhaerjee delivers a simple and earthly medley of two Sufi songs. One talks about the celebration of spring as it blossoms, bringing colour to the hearts of those inhabiting the earth, whereas the other invites the listener to come and visit what is usually not visible to people who are counting coins and plotting economic well-being. The music is minimal using a dubki and ukulele in the tradition of Bengali folk music, as is the singing style. The eye-opening video has also been shot in a village in rural Bengal.
Mon Mor Megher Songi – Bonnie
Usually Rabindrasangeet is covered in the shroud of tradition which uses typical arrangements and style of singing. However, this rendition of ‘Mon Mor Megher Songi’ by Bonnie is totally wicked. Starting with beautiful trills on the guitar, the music has chordal movements found in traditional European music. The deep grooves on the bass only accentuate the inherent punch of the song. Bonnie’s voice is never overpowering and is the perfect accompaniment to the music, unlike usual renditions where the voice is supreme. The arrangement by Partha Paul is excellent, and such renditions of Rabindrasangeet can find resonance in the ears of young Bengalis who have grown up listening to Western music.
Milon Hobe Koto Dine – The Indian Blues Band
Bengali minstrel Lalon Fakir’s song ‘Milon Hobe Koto Dine’ has been done to death by numerous artistes over decades. But the mirth of the song still doesn’t seem to leave. Hence, comes another rendition which seems like it goes back to the roots, but finds a space in between the traditional and modern. Power chords and hard rock riffs is the driving force at times, while gravy licks on the bass with a beat on the kortal carry the musical banner to land in a superbly executed blues solo. To top it off, the vocals is excellent. Though, it isn’t proper fusion music, it is an amalgamation where the two elements co-exist peacefully.
Boi Chor – Rupam Islam
‘Boi Chor’ is part of the album ‘Aami’ that Rupam Islam made with guitar virtuoso Amyt Datta. Conceptualized around the need of education that some youngsters have but don’t have enough finances to buy books, this song is a stark reminder of how oxymoronic the term book thief is because the intention of a person who steals books is not aligned with the desire for money, but rather that of knowledge. The lyrics are powerful but the singing at times seems like it’s been forced into the pockets provided. The guitar arrangement, however, is ethereal with its dreamy slides and twangs, carrying the song smoothly.
Ekbar Jogonnathe Dekh Jeye – Rakhi Tewari
Another song by Lalon Fakir finds its way on this list. Though one might expect typical folk arrangements on Rakhi’s rendition especially as the music starts on a purely rural note, her trained voice betrays the form of singing that she learnt, which is clearly not folk. The music also manifests more in devotional music format than fakiri or baul soundscapes. But all said and done, she does do the song justice, especially riding on the beautiful flute calls that then blends into a dotara riff carried by rural rhythms on the kortal and dubki.