Ek mutho jolshar kolorob - In memory of Pulak Bandyopadhyay (May 1931 - September 7, 1999)

By Kohinoor Dasgupta
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Pulak BandopadhyayOn the evening of Tuesday, September 7, 1999, lyricist Pulak Bandyopadhyay killed himself by jumping off a launch into the Hooghly river at Howrah. He was 68. His body was retrieved on Thursday, September 9, 1999. Words were in short supply in the suicide note he left behind. After having worn his heart on his sleeve as a professional writer for four decades, he had nothing more to say.

Bandyopadhyay lived in Howrah. He was educated at Scottish Church College, Calcutta. He came from a family that enjoyed the Arts — drama, literature, music. Many of his songs were written for Bangla movies, tailored to suit “situations” outlined by screenplay writers and directors. The rest were songs written for the Puja releases and other albums of well-known singers.

The songs I have transcribed above are just two examples of Bandyopadhyay’s command over his medium. He possessed the skill, at his best, of following a train of thought and casually clothing the thought in the commissioned dress.

He easily crossed the bridge from conventional (O akash prodeep jelo na, Shedin nisheethe borishono sheshe, and O amar chandramallika, for example) to new (Ke prothom kacche eshechhi, Doore doore, kachhe kachhe). Naturally, some of the older songs have dated, many albums then described as “Bengali Modern Songs” remain now as mementoes of a time past in thought and music. But Bandyopadhay was essentially a man of the 1960s and 1970s. His writing style adapted quite naturally to the new ways of expression that people sought and invented when New came in a tidal wave in the Bengal of the 1960s and the 1970s.

He was a gift to filmmakers, and not only for the soulful quieter moments. In those days lyricists often split the songwriting credits for a particular film. Presumably writers got the situations that were their forte — or maybe the best efforts were picked. The multi-talented Sudhin Dasgupta, for example, wrote Hoyto tomari jonyo in the same movie that Bandyopadhyay wrote Doore doore kachhe kachhe for — Tin Bhuboner Paare. Bandyopadhyay seems to have been the go-to man for situations that needed comedic flair. Remember he was the gleeful author of top-notch cinema songs like Ami sri sri Bhojohori Manna (for Prothom Kodom Phool, the 1970 movie). And surely it needed a freewheeling talent to ignite the incredible madness of Agoon legechhe from Basanta Bilap (1973) with Soumitra Chatterjee, Robi Ghosh and Chinmoy Roy! That song jostles Rajinder Krishan’s much-loved Ek chatur naar from Padosan (1968) up on the hilarity Richter.

Words tumbled out of Bandyopadhyay’s pen with puckish invention, words that never thought to be seated at the same table dropped into place just as if they had always belonged. Who else could have thought of the lines “Dau dau dau jole duranto bonhi/Ghotoker jalay je jolchhen tonhi? Or the wryly alliterating “Mayapuri mone mor esho mayabini” from Lajboti nupurer rini jhini jhini (Natun Jibon - 1966)?

Hemanta Mukherjee and Manna Dey have sung many of Bandyopadhyay’s most popular songs. Kotodin pore ele, ektu bosho, Shedin tomay dekhechhilam, Ogo kajol noyona horini by Mukherjee and Dey’s Shei to abar kachhe ele, O Lolita, oke aaj chole jete bolna, Jani tomar premer jogyo ami to noi, Abar hobe to dekha, Dorodi go and Kothay kothai je raat hoye jai (also the name of Pulak Bandyopadhyay’s memoirs) are songs wrapped in nostalgia for generations of Bangla music lovers. Many times, however, we only remembered the singers but forgot the wordsmith. Not all the fault is ours – some music cassettes and even CDs do not even mention the lyricists.

Many other accomplished artistes have also looked at pieces of paper with Bandyopadhay’s lyrics on them. I will only remind you of a few such songs here. Haimanti Shukla sang Amar bolar kichhu chhilona in her silken voice. Earlier, Lata Mangeshkar had sung the catchy Aaj mon cheyechhe for Shankhabela (1966). Asha Bhosle sang Dweep jwele oi tara in Mon Niye (1969). Shyamal Mitra’s breezy Ami tomar kachhei phire ashbo from Baluchari (1968), Nirmala Mishra’s famous Sobuj Pahar dake (with music by Bhupen Hazarika), Arati Mukherjee and Gouri Ghosh’s duet Esho pran bhorono doinyo horono he from Dadar Keerti (1980) and the immortal Pratima Bandyopadhyay numbers Tomay keno laagchhe eto chena (music by Bhupen Hazarika), Meghla bhanga rod uthechhe, Tomar du chokhe amar swapno aanka (music by Abhijit Bhattacharya), and Boro saadh jaage ekbar tomai dekhi were all gifts from Bandyopadhyay’s bright mind and feeling heart.

I know there are many Pulak Bandyopadhyay fans out there –but at this point of time there is no information on the Web on him. Everything I have written here has come off my own research and painstaking fact-checking. There isn’t even a Wikipedia entry on him. Please write one if you can.

Koto raginir bhool bhangate banshi bhore gechhe aghate
Projapoti pelo je betha kantabone phool jagate.
Tobu shookh tateyi bhorechhe mor buk
Dwiper gorbo bariye koto shikha gechhe hariye
Koto megh jhore gechhe go akashe nilabha lagate.
Toofan tomar shagore tobu mor hiya doob dilo je
Tomar moner otole jhinuke mukuta chhilo je.
Hoyto ba phera hobe na, kuler thikana robe na
Aleya jeneo jabo go shey aalor joy janate.

Lyrics: Pulak Bandyopadyay
Music: Hemanta Mukhopadhyay
Sung by: Hemanta Mukhopadhyay
Download MP3 >

Doore doore, kachhe kachhe
Ekhane, okhane – ke daako amay
Eshechhi tomar moneri chhayay.
Kan pete shooni otiter buke
Ke jeno ki bole hashi hashi mukhe
Nijeke hariye bujhi – she chhilo amari smritir maya.
Tai ki amar she kotha abar phire phire elo?
Shur hoye mon diyechhe janiye aaj keno ami gechhi shara diye
Ki kore na mene paari?
Cheyechhi tomake, cheyechhi tomay.

Lyrics: Pulak Bandyopadhyay
Music Sudhin Dasgupta
Sung by: Arati Mukherjee
Film: Tin Bhuboner Paare (1969)
Download MP3 >

Kohinoor Dasgupta lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA and is a blogger and a journalist formerly with The Times of India. Her blog is at http://draupadiarjun.blog.co.in.