On-Demand Audio Broadcast / Podcast

Interview: Chaitali Dasgupta on "Amar Jabar Belate" Audio Album Release Marking Tagore's 70th Death Anniversary

By Arijit Chakraborty

Chaitali DasguptaWashington DC, Aug 9, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Chaitali Dasgupta is an avid follower of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore. An accomplished actress and a very well-known face on Kolkata's Doordarshan TV channels, Chaitali loves reading and pure adda. She embarked on a project to bring Tagore closer to the present young generation.

Amar Jabar Belaye

While the whole of Bengal is busy celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of the bard, Chaitali took a different approach of exploring Tagore's perception and experience of death on the 70th anniversary of his departure from the mortal world.

In an informal discussion in the studio of Washington Bangla Radio, Chaitali talks about her songs-and-recitation album "Amar Jabar Belate" contrasting the concept of death portrayed by Rabindranath in his creations and the painful stress of physical death that the maestro himself unfortunately underwent. The album elaborates on the last few days of Tagore's life.

Interview: Anasuya Samanta on Bengali Film ALO CHAYA (2011), BLOOD (2008) Transcending Commercial & Art-House to Good Cinema

By Supratim Sanyal
Interview host: Esha Basu Roy, Jacksonville, Florida

Kolkata Bengali Movie Director Anasua SamantaWashington DC, Aug 9, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) When Anasuya Samanta was a little four-year old girl, she spontaneously broke into a little poem of her own that her mother wrote down because Anasuya had not learned to write yet.

Other than an inherent talent for poetry and writing, Anasuya also started playing roles on stage in drama productions from when she was just a kid. She had initially expected to make a career in acting and direction, but as she pursued academics, she also developed a liking for science, botany in particular.

Therefore, later on, Anasuya found herself studying both Botanical science and the art of film making at the same time! In a way, the two apparently disconnected fields come together in her mind - as she puts it, she has spent much blissful time reading poems to plants and listening to their poetry in turn.

ANUSHUA SAMANTA (ANASHUA SAMANTA) BLOOD (2008) BENGALI MOVIE POSTERAs a film-maker, Anasuya's debut feature film "Blood" (2008) - Bengali title জোর - takes on a rather unusual subject of high-society lonely women looking to buy physical pleasure getting murdered by a serial killer on a mission of cleansing the society. The murderer ultimately explains his reasons towards the end of the film - you will have to watch the film to learn why. Blood stars Debesh Raychowdhury, Anasuya Samanta, Manojit, Sutanuka, Mita Chatterjee, Sameer Mukherjee, Manjula Polle and Bhaswar Chatterjee. Order Blood (2008) - an Eskay Movies release Bengali film on DVD in USA and world-wide - click here >

Anasuya's second movie "Alo Chaya" (preview: trailer, poster, cast, crew & synopsis are posted here) has a world-wide release date of September 16, 2011 marking the birth anniversary Saratchandra Chattopadhyay (Sep 15) whose story has been adapted for the film.

Sarat Chandra is one of Anasuya's favorite writers and this story particularly moved her. In spite of being a short story, Anasuya had been planning on making feature film around it from the time she was making a tele-film. Anasuya describes how she studied the story and carefully planned the depiction of the period the story is set in - a difficult task since she had to travel to rural locations and reproduce everything from a different age, including speech and mannerisms.

Of particular interest in the film is the way Anasuya brings together two towering creative geniuses - Rabindranath Tagore and Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. Anasuya points out that the two of them had great bonhomie - both declared the other as his favorite writer. She specially mentions the song "Tumi Rabe Nirobe" performed for her film by singer Srabani Sen.

The star cast of Alo Chaya consists of Soumitro Chatterjee as Jogyo Datta’s spirit, Ramaprasad Banik as Jogyo Datta’s uncle, Sumonto Mukherjee as Aranyo’s father, Bibhu Bhattacharyya as Nayeb of the Zamindari, Manojit as Jogyo Datta, Riwk as Suresh, Anasuya as Surama, Riya as Protul, Anamika Saha as Jogyo Datta’s aunt, Sanghamitra Banerjee as Jogyo Datta’s aunt, Chhobi Talukdar as Suresh’s aunt, Jaysree as Jogyo Datta’s aunt, Mou as a friend of Surama, Indrani as Arko’s mother and more. The music of Aalo Chaya features Rabindrasangeet and original Bengali film songs penned by Manojit Goswami. The music director is Kalyan Sen Barat who makes a cameo appearance as a Baul in the film. The songs have been performed by playback singers Srikanta Acharya, Sraboni Sen, Monomoy Bhattacharyya, Shubhankar Bhaskar, Shubhomita, Emon, Rai and others.

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Delhi-Based "Swatantra" (Independent) Rockers EKA Announce Free Download of Debut Single "Satyameva Jayate"

New Delhi, Aug 8, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Marking their first anniversary, Delhi-based music group EKA have announced their first single ‘Satyameva Jayate - Voices for a Better India’ available for free MP3 download.

"It starts with one person ‘I’ and we hope the song inspires each and everyone to bring about a change", say the band on their official facebook page.

Eka are Benjamine ‘Benny’ Pinto on Keyboards (Ex-Euphoria), Hitesh ‘Rikki’ Madan on guitars and vocals (Ex-Euphoria) and Lokesh Madan on vocals and bass. The members of Eka are seasoned musicians and have performed at over 2000 concerts in 15 countries and have recorded over 100 songs in various capacities. Some of these performances include the Indo-Pak peace concert at the UN General Assembly Hall, New York, the Great Wall of China and the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, U.S.A.

Interview: Film-Maker Abhishek Ganguly on New Film "Voices: Murmurs of the Mind" on Mental Illness Awareness and his Background

By Supratim Sanyal, Washington DC
Interview host: Esha Basu Roy, Jacksonville, Florida

Abhishek Ganguly - Kolkata Bengali Movie Writer-DirectorWashington, DC, Aug 7, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Listen to Kolkata-based film-maker Abhishek Ganguli speak about his background and experience in film-making, with special emphasis on his new film "Voices: Murmurs of the Mind" in this exclusive and intimate chat with Esha Basu Roy on WBRi.

The film will premiere in Saturday Club, Kolkata on Aug 25, 2011. Actor Biswajit Chakraborty will launch the film at the event. An interactive panel discussion with some of the top psychiatrists and social workers of Kolkata about mental illness will be held at the launch event. Kolkata-based English music composer, director and singer Sumit Roy has composed a special song "Murmurs of the Mind" which he will perform for the occasion and the MC of the event will be theater and short-film actor Siddhartha Sen from Jamshedpur.

Abhishek is working in the creative field as a free-lance self employed writer and director of films, event organizer and creative manager for the last fifteen years and has served over 2000 corporate and non-corporate Clients. He runs his own creative outfit "Learning System" since 1996.

"Voices Murmurs of the Mind" in Bengali of 21 minutes is a production of his creative organization Learning System  under their ‘Cinema for a Cause’ initiative to address and make people aware about the mental illness Schizophrenia which is affecting millions all across the globe. Partly based on his direct experience with people close to him afflicted with the illness, the film strives to create awareness and educate people about the disorder of the mind.

The film was screened at SHORTS 2011 - a short film festival in Jamshedpur organized by Tata Steel in association with Take 5 Communications. Read all about the movie in our previously posted exclusive film preview.

Abhishek is considering, as his next project, a social short-film on retired sex-workers of Kolkata.

Audio: Chaitali Dasgupta Marks Baishe Srabon with "Amar Jabar Belate" Recitation and Songs Bengali CD Release

Kolkata, Aug 5, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Perhaps no other poet celebrated life in his works as much as Rabindranath Tagore. Yet throughout his long life the poet was constantly hounded by a series of bereavements at regular intervals. He endured the deaths of Notun Bouthan Kadambari Debi, his wife Mrinalini Devi, his daughter Madhabilata and son Soumendranath.

Amar Jabar Belaye

With his genius he transformed his personal grief into unique aesthetic creations. In a way, his life was a long tale of a brave struggle of a spiritual man trying to grapple with the problem of morality.

He has defined death by not accepting it as the final, futile end, but as an inseparable part of the cycle of life. Death has been depicted by him as the ultimate beloved, a friend.

Read all about the remarkable Bengali CD and listen free to clips online.

Chaitali Dasgupta
Chaitali Dasgupta - image courtesy: www.sravastiworld.com

Poetry Meets Cinema: ITI APU (Bengali, 2011) - A Tribute to Apu Trilogy: A Short Film On A Poem Recited by Soumitra Chatterjee

Washington DC, August 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) You may have heard the wonderful poems written by Prithwiraj Choudhury recited by Bratati Banerjee and himself that we have featured before in this post. Prithwiraj recently got together with Mrigankasekhar Ganguly and they have created a short film directed by Mrigankasekhar based on the poem "Iti Apu" written by Prithwiraj and narrated by Saumitra Chatterjee, who played Apu in Satyajit Ray's iconic trilogy.

Watch the Bengali short film online.

Interview: Suphal & Suvojit Pakrashi of PAKRASHI HARMONIUM of Kolkata Continuing the Tradition of World-Class Music Instruments

Washington, DC, August 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In India, the musical instrument popularly called the "Harmonium" refers to the hand-pumped (bellowed) version of the reed organ. In North America and much of Europe, "Harmonium" is mostly associated with the foot-operated version leaving both hands free for playing the keys. Harmoniums were overtaken in the Western world around the 1930s by the electronic organ, but remain hugely popular in India and entire South Asia as the primary accompaniment instrument used by vocalists themselves while performing. And Pakrashi is the name that pops up in the minds of most Bengalis whenever the best of Indian harmoniums are being discussed.

Interestingly, here is a description of a Pakrashi Harmonium on sale on Amazon.com (click here if you wish to order): "Harmonium, Pro, Folding by Pakrashi (Item Code: HRMPF-2) Harmonium Pakrashi & Co., folding, Scale changer with Mechanical Coupler. 5 drones and 4 stops. It has 3 banks of 45 reeds each.and 6 drone reeds. Comes in its own traveling case plus a nylon case too. Keyboard pops up, store in locked-down position for travel. Mechanical coupler (plays 2 octaves with one stroke). It is a 9-scale changer. The Keyboard slides to change scale. Integral bellows, dozens of sound combinations. Finish color and decoration style may vary from photo. The Harmoniums are not meant to be played in concert like a mini organ. This is instrument was introduced to India by the British. It has been embraced and is now a truly Indian instrument used as accompaniment across many genres of Indian music including Hindustani classical, light modern songs, Tagore songs, folk and devotional songs. In the early days, Harmoniums were are not in concert pitch and were not meant to be. As with many Indian instruments the key for the music is selected to best suite the vocals, or to set a mood. Traditionally, Harmoniums were usually higher pitched if compared to the Western Scale, and Harmonium tuning did not reflect the Western Scale and was not meant to. However, at present all Indian musical instruments comply the international pitch standard of A=440Hz, thus accepted in the western world.

Almost all singers and artistes from Kolkata are familiar with Pakrashi & Co. store selling musical instruments from 82-A Rashbehari Avenue. They are most renowned for their Harmoniums, and more often than not artists from Kolkata are seen playing a Pakrashi harmonium along while performing.

Suphal Pakrashi & Suvojit Pakrashi
Suphal Pakrashi (right) and son Suvojit Pakrashi of Pakrashi & Company of Kolkata

The history of the Pakrashis goes back to 1922 when Sudhir Chandra Pakrashi moved to Kolkata from what is now Bangladesh and established the store. Arijit Chakraborty caught up with Suphal Pakrashi and Suvojit Pakrashi, representing the 2nd and 3rd generations running the business in this informal and intimate audio interview.

Suphal Pakrashi
Suphal Pakrashi

The Harmonium was not really a popular instrument when the store was established. Suphal Pakrashi tells us how his father and uncle involved themselves with the leading singers of the time like Pankaj Kumar Mullick and exponents of the still-new Rabindrasangeet songs to map the notes of the Esraj to a keyboard instrument. Suphal dwells on the remarkable efforts by many people from their musician-customer community who worked with them to improve the instrument which over time has reached it's modern form. Technologies like scale-changer harmoniums are a labor of love of many dedicated artists working together with the Pakrashis.

Suphal, Suvojit and Rezwana Chowdhury Banya
From left: Suvojit Pakrashi, Suphal Pakrashi, Rezwana Chowdhury Bonnya

Suphal took lessons in playing the Sitar as a young boy, thus training his ears to music. Suphal would also watch his father continually research and improve the harmonium and experiment with delicate changes in physical measurements, angles, frequencies, airwaves, weights and such characteristics to attain the desired qualities in the sound.

Listen to the audio interview on Washington Bangla Radio.

Interview: Film-Maker Srijit Mukherji on Bengali Movie "BAISHE SRABON" & the Remarkable Journey of "AUTOGRAPH" (WBRi Exclusive)


Picture: Srijit Mukherji & Prosenjit ChatterjeeWashington DC, July 31, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Srijit Mukherji returns to our studios after exactly one year to chat with Arijit Chakraborty about his upcoming 2nd Bengali feature film Baishe Shrabon and the remarkable response to his debut film Autograph. At the time of our last interview (audio available on-line here), Srijit was in the final stages of post-production of Autograph. Little did we know at that time that Autograph would go on to cause such an upheaval in Bengali cinema, winning an unprecedented 38 awards so far and setting a box-office performance record in recent times of an almost 4-month run!

At the time of this chit-chat with Srijit, he is wrapping up his 2nd feature film Baishe Shrabon which is at the final stages of post-production and almost ready to release around Durga Puja 2011.

"After Autograph, I wanted to make something that is diametrically opposite", says Srijit about his forthcoming film. "I have always been a thriller buff".

If Autograph were represented by a color, it would be feel-good white - or perhaps slightly grey. But Baishe Shrabon is going to be darker.

The script for Baishe Shrabon was written in 2008 (for a tele-film broadcast on STAR Jalsha Bengali TV channel owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation). Srijit is no stranger to the thriller - he has written and directed live drama (theater) productions like the English play "MINDGAMES", Bengali play "FELUDA FEROT" (a vision of Feluda's later days from the perspective of Feluda's arch enemy Maghanlal Meghraj), and the play "CHECKMATE", and worked as an assistant director with Anjan Dutta (interview) for Madly Bengali and Aparna Sen (interview) for Iti Mrinalini. Incidentally, Aparna Sen's Iti Mrinalini opened in theaters this weekend along with Riingo Banerjee's (interview) System.

With Baishe Shrabon, Srijit says he wanted to explore genres of the drama and the thriller, violence, and Bangla poetry. Indeed, the producers are using the words "musical thriller" for the film, the oxymoronic labeling adding to the anticipation!

The film-maker himself describes it as being about ...

Listen to the audio interview broadcast via on-demand service on Washington Bangla Radio.

Interview: A Musical Evening with Lopamudra Mitra & Joy Sarkar (Video)

Lopamudra Mitra and Joy Sarkar at their residence

Washington DC, July 29, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In this musical video interview hosted by Soumitra Talukdar, acclaimed Bengali singer Lopamudra Mitra chats about her background, experience and musical career interspersed with songs in her golden voice. She is also joined by her husband Joy Sarkar. We are confident you will find the impromptu performances by two of the brightest stars of Bengali music mesmerizing.

The Carlyta Mouhini Experience - A Musical Chat with the Brazilian-Indian-Bengali Singer Songwriter (Interview)

Carlyta MouhiniWashington, DC, July 26, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Listening to Carlyta Mouhini is an exhilarating experience, as Arijit Chakraborty found out during chatting with her in this WBRi exclusive audio interview with the singer, composer and song-writer. Doubtless you will also feel inspired, excited and generally everything will look brighter after listening to her infectious enthusiasm-filled chat and listen to her songs as she fluidly and adeptly switches between Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, English, Portuguese and Spanish, adding music to words and words to music crossing cultures and genres instantly on the fly!

And perhaps after listening to this interview, you will also take away with you a soothing reminder that there are things which we control that we can try to influence the outcome of with hard work, and there are things beyond our grasp that will transpire according to our destiny.

Carlyta was born into the culture-rich Latin American environment where music is ubiquitous, to a Brazilian mother and a Bengali-Punjabi father, and grew up in a family where she was also deeply influenced by her Bengali grand-mother. As she quaintly puts it, she "came out of her mother's womb singing and dancing!"

The first and foremost quintessential characteristic of South American culture is the music - music automatically gets ingrained into anyone growing up there. Music teachers at school and insitutions serve to train and polish the instinct for music.

Today Carlyta is a multi-lingual cross-cultural music entertainment wonder. She makes the interesting observation that, at the end of the day, the audiences who speak and listen to her songs in different languages are not really that different, because music, like all human beings with a rhythmic heart-beat, is based on rhythm. Once an audience of any cultural ethnicity catches on to the rhythm, the lyrics and music effect them exactly the same way as they would to people who speak other languages. She has personally watched Brazilians dance to her live Hindi film song performances of Chamma Chamma (originally performed by Alka Yagnik for the film China Gate) and Le Le Maza Le (from the film "Wanted" starring Salman Khan performed by Suzanne, Saumaya Rao, Hrishikesh Kamerkar and Nikita Nigam). Similarly, Carlyta also finds people spontaneously breaking into dance when she sings in English (which is rarely spoken in South America).

Obviously, having grown up in Brazil, Carlyta greatly enjoys singing in Spanish and Portuguese. She loves singing in Hindi - after all Bollywood is Bollywood. But, she expresses special feelings for Bengali - a language she has a deep emotional connection with due to inheriting it from her father and her grandmother who instilled Bangla into her very personality. You will be undoubtedly impressed with her flawless common Bengali !

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