A Mesmerizing Musical Journey With Nilanjan Nandy At The Rabindra-Okakura Bhavan

Nilanjan Nandy

Kolkata, January 11, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio/ Penning Creations):  Few things in life can rival the charms of a musical evening in winter. Indeed, the very prospect of listening to good songs, rendered beautifully by talented artists in a nice, cozy auditorium warms the cockles of the heart of any music-lover. It came as no surprise, hence, that, from the day it was announced that the renowned and immensely talented singer-cum-composer Nilanjan Nandy (popularly known in the musical circles as ‘Aroopratan’) would be performing in a musical show at the Rabindra-Okakura Bhavan in Salt Lake, there was a distinct feel of buzz and anticipation among all those who planned to attend the event.

Given the credentials of Nilanjan Nandy, one expected a few hours of sheer musical brilliance. And boy, the evening (of the 10th of January) sure did rise up to the occasion!

Madhuban Chakrabarty, Nilanjan NandyThe musical extravaganza started off with noted cardiologist, Dr. Parthasarathy Bhattacharya setting the mood for the evening with soulful ghazals and bhajans. As the audience started to trickle in, the stage was set for Madhuban Chakrabarty, the well-known anchor at a popular 24-hour Bengali news channel, to showcase her musical talents. The lady mesmerized the audience with four ‘adhunik’ Bengali songs. Her choice of songs, ranging from the melodious ‘Jibono Gaan Gaahey Ke Je’ and the catchy ‘Priyotomo Ki Likhi Tomay’, to the lilting ‘Jodi Akash Hoto Aankhi’ and ‘Eto Boro Akash Takey’, was indeed praiseworthy, particularly since none of these numbers were particularly easy to perform onstage. With her family in audience, Madhuban, however, did full justice to the songs she had selected. After her performance, Madhuban was presented with a souvenir by Niharika, the youngest member of the Surobahaar group.

Ellora NandyNext up on stage was Ellora Nandy, the better half of Nilanjan Nandy. The latter recounted their common love for ghazals and how they looked up to the late Jagjit Singh, one of the maestros of this genre of music. The couple started off with a duet (‘Kaun Kehta Hai Ke’), which literally enthralled the audience. Aroopratan also kept on explaining the significance of the lyrics (penned by Sahir Ludhianvi) at different portions of the song, ensuring that, all those present in the audience could fully experience the magical beauty of the number. Thanks to him, we now know the part of a ghazal where the name of the ‘shayar’ is mentioned.

Ellora Nandy captivated the audience next with her beautiful rendition of ‘Tujhse Naraaz Nahin’, that cult classic from the 1982 movie, ‘Masoom’. Indeed, the beautiful lyrics of the song (written by Gulzar) seemed to come alive with the tremendous voice quality of the artist on show. Of course, the music, provided by the inimitable R. D. Burman, is an all-time favourite among music-lovers.

Niharika & Nilanjan NandyThey say that music runs across generations in a family. One of the best examples of the validity of this old adage is the family of Nilanjan Nandy. While the latter has been carrying on the mantle of musical excellence passed on by his father, the celebrated musician Batuk Nandy, Aroopratan’s daughter, Niharika Nandy (nicknamed ‘Piu’) seems all set to move ahead with the baton. This young and highly promising artist was the next performer on stage. Aroopratan, after a brief introduction of her daughter, requested the audience not to be too critical of the young lady’s performance. As it turned out, there was absolutely no need for such apprehension on the part of Aroopratan, for his daughter managed to deliver a performance that was, qualitatively, at par with all the other numbers that were sung during this musical evening.

Niharika started off with the timeless classic duet ‘Beeti Na Beetayi Raina’, from the 1972 hit ‘Parichay’ (music: R. D. Burman; lyrics: Gulzar). R. D. Burman seemed to be one of the favourite music directors of the young singer (hardly a surprise!), as she followed up the duet with a stirring rendition of ‘Raina Beeti Jaay’ (from ‘Amar Prem’ (1971); lyrics by Anand Bakshi). Niharika showed that she had every potential to become the next big star on the musical horizon. The rich values of his father, Aroopratan, were also evident, as he proudly said that the glitterati of reality shows do not attract him and all that he wants is her daughter to grow into a good singer. Niharika is very good already and we certainly hope she will continue to improve by leaps and bounds over the years.

With all the other singers of the night having finished their performances, it was finally time for the ‘man of the moment’, Nilanjan Nandy to take centerstage. Veteran actor and stage performer Phalguni Chattopadhyay was invited on stage to formally introduce Aroopratan to the audience and to say a few words about the singer. Chattopadhyay recalled the times when Aroopratan had made his theatrical debut (in a play titled ‘It’s A Game). The audience were also informed that Nilanjan has already sung for four of Chattopadhyay’s plays (including Samaresh Majumdar’s popular ‘Teen Nombor Chokh’). The fact that Aroopratan had already won over a large audience at the New York Columbia University with his musical performance impressed everyone present at the auditorium (those who were already not aware of it, anyway!).

Before starting his performance, Nilanjan Nandy expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the late Bhupen Hazarika, who had been instrumental in helping him in organizing musical shows in the United States and other foreign shores. The first of Nandy’s songs, a beautifully composed traditional song for palki-bearers (‘Hey Dola’), was dedicated by the singer to Dr. Parthasarathi Bhattacharya. The haunting melody of the track, coupled with the wonderful singing quality of Aroopratan, cajoled the audience into an awe-struck, mesmerized silence.

Nilanjan Nandy next moved on to ‘Sesh Dekha Shei Raatey’ (music: Nachiketa Ghosh; lyrics: Gauri Prasanna Majumdar), a sad and soulful number, sung in memory of the noted singer Pintu Bhattacharyya, who passed away last year. Aroopratan shared a close relationship with Bhattacharyya and he expressed a deep sense of personal loss at the demise of the latter. Next on the music menu was Ramkumar Chattopadhyay’s funny yet touching ‘O Mori Haay Haay Re’ (lyrics by Saratchandra Pandit Dadathakur). Aroopratan recounted funny anecdotes from the past, regaling the audience and displaying a keen memory at the same time. The frequent ‘Kya Baat’-s with which he kept on encouraging the instrumentalists were also exemplary.

Taking up the classiness of the occasion by a fair few notches, Nilanjan Nandy next started a Ghulam Ali Khan ghazal, ‘Apni Tasveer’. The audience sat spellbound as the singer did absolute justice to the lovely lyrics of the song (penned by Shezad Amjad). Aroopratan also displayed variations of the ‘Patiala gharana’ of ghazals and recalled the days when he had gone on musical tours to Gujarat.

Moving on, it was time for Aroopratan to sing some of the songs that he had composed himself. First up was the insightful ‘Dhulo Orai’, that vividly painted a (not too bright!) picture of Kolkata, as envisaged by the singer. Aroopratan, however, expressed his belief that somewhere beneath the rough exteriors of the city, a beautiful counterpart existed. Next in line was ‘Niharika’, a song that Nilanjan Nandy had composed for his daughter, when she was less than a year old. The song quite beautifully described parental love for their little ones. Such songs indeed have a universal charm and appeal. Kudos to Aroopratan for coming up with such a brilliant composition!

The theme song of ‘Lok-krishti’, the resident theatre group of Nilanjan Nandy and his team (‘Doinondinotaay...’) was performed next by the singer. Prasun Bhattacharyya, a theatre colleague of Aroopratan, was invited onstage to sing along with Nandy. The song was dedicated to several eminent theatre personalities, including Tapati Bhattacharyya and Amalesh Chakrabarty. The introspective ‘Chhinno Patay Bheshey Bheshey’ was sung next. This number had first been sung by Raghab and Aroopratan proved that he was more than equal to the task of rendering his own songs in a remarkably beautiful manner. ‘Ponno’, a song that was first sung by Aroopratan at Nachiketa’s house (when the former had been freelancing for ‘Anondomela’), was performed next. Incidentally, ‘Ponno’ was part of the Nachiketa album that won the ‘Best Non-film album’ award in 2008.

The evening saw the official launch of two instrumental CDs of Nilanjan Nandy – ‘Dev Anand And I’ and ‘Dil Dhoondta Hai’ (a tribute to Madan-Mohan) and it would have been somewhat inappropriate for the show to end without a song featuring the original ‘evergreen’ actor of Bollywood. Aroopratan was certainly aware of this fact and promptly lent his voice to the classic ‘Hum Bekhudi Mein Tumko’ (music: Jaidev; lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi), from Kalapani (1962).

The next offering from Nilanjan Nandy was the iconic ‘Sedin-o Akashey Chhilo Koto Tara’, one of the many immortal creations of Kishore Kumar. This was the song Aroopratan had sung in his very first musical program (way back in 1981) and the song brought back a distinct feeling of nostalgia among the entire audience too. The singer signed off with another timeless R. D. Burman classic, ‘Mone Porey Rubi Roy’ (lyrics: Sachin Bhaumik).

While this concluded the musical journey for the night, it would be grossly unfair not to acknowledge the significant contribution of the musicians in ensuring the success of the program. The team of Jyotiprasad (guitarist), Argha (drummer), Partho (keyboard) and Rahul Ganguly (tabla) was simply outstanding and added that extra bit of magic to the program with their superb musical skills. As the curtains came down and all headed home, a feeling of spiritual fulfilment reigned supreme among all members of the audience.

The best thing about the evening? That we got to listen to so many varieties of outstanding songs. The worst thing about the evening? That it did not last longer!

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