Exclusive WBRi Bangla Radio Interviews, Reviews, Features, Songs, Videos, Biographies of Bangla Artists, Bands and Albums

"All Voices Sound the Same These Days" - Kumar Sanu (Interview)

Kumar Sanu - Bengali & Hindi SongsWashington DC, June 22, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) On behalf of Washington Bangla Radio, Soumitra Talukdar talks to the famous singer of Tollywood Bengali and Bollywood Hindi songs Kumar Sanu in a candid and intimate video interview at his residence in Mumbai.

Kumar Sanu's father Sri Pashupati Bhattacharya was a Music Director in Bangla Natok (Bengali Stage Theater) and 'Jatra' (a unique style of Bengali musical theater)  and his mother and sister were also singers. So his up-bringing was in a musical atmosphere in Kolkata.

Interview: Anjan Dutta - "Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na is my culmination of music-related films"

Actor, Singer, Song-writer, Composer and Film-Maker Anjan Dutta talks about his journey in creative and performing arts, his latest feature film  "Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na" (Bengali, 2011) and his upcoming projects in this candid and informal audio interview.

Anjan Dutta - Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na - Tollywood Kolkata Bengali Movie PosterWashington, DC, June 19, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Actor turned singer-composer and film-maker Anjan Dutta actually tried song-writing and singing many years after he commenced a career in acting with a preference for challenging roles in parallel / art-house films. He had let his creativity in writing songs and singing run free just to see what he could come up with for himself - becoming a phenomenally popular singer-songwriter is still one of the biggest unexpected surprises of his life !

Interview: Tollywood Actor Mainak Banerjee on his acting career and upcoming films "Amrita", "Bindas Prem"

[Kolkata Bengali Movie Actor Mainak]Washington DC, June 19, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Mainak Banerjee, who prefers to just go by his first name Mainak, started his acting career around 2003 with his well-appreciated role in Akash Bangla's TV Serial "Police Files" which dramatized real police cases. He subsequently appeared in Zee Bangla's TV show "Asambhab" in 2008 where his portrayal of the character of Shiba was so vivid that people started to refer to him as Shiba. Mainak describes a particularly interesting story at a Kolkata metro station involving cops, as well as incidents in rural Bengal which indicate his success in playing Shiba.

Listen to Mainak talk about his career and experienc in acting and forthcoming Bengali films in this candid interview with Arijit Chakraborty on Washington Bangla Radio.

Interview: Actress Parno Mitra on Bengali Films "Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na", "Bedroom" - "I am in seventh heaven"

Tollywood Kolkata Bengali Cinema Actress Parno Mitra with guitarWashington, DC, June 18, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Actress Parno Mitra, who plays the title role of Ranjana in Anjan Dutta's Bengali film "Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbo Na" (2011), chats with Ananya Paul in this interview. Parno also sings a snippet of her introductory song "Chalo Jai" for us (this song is performed by playback singer Somlata in the film).

Interview: Tollywood Bengali Director RAJ CHAKRABORTY On Secrets of Success, Proloy Asche, Shotru, Jeet, Nusrat & Bangla Films

[Tollywood Kolkata Bengali Movie Director Raj Chakraborty]Washington, DC, June 13, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Well-established and highly successful Tollywood Bengali movie director Raj Chakraborty takes time out from a busy shooting schedule to talk to Ananya Paul about his work, his career path, and his philosophies of work and life. A disarmingly candid Raj offers inspiration and deep insight into success and shares with us all his wonderful outlook that will surely motivate all of us, irrespective of our chosen paths in life. Listening to Raj during recording this interview was a treat for all of here and will remain a memorable high-point, and it is with great pleasure that we share this with you.

Currently in its second week, Raj’s 2011 Bangla movie Shatru is a superhit, andRaj makes it clear that he had expected no less from his work.  Shatru is a success, Raj confidently states, because of its excellent packaging, including well-choreographed fight sequences, good music, excellent acting, a careful wardrobe, lovely photography, and all the ingredients required to produce satisfying entertainment.

Audio | John Van Burek, Director of "Post Office" Drama Production by Pleiades Theater Toronto Adapted from Tagore's "Dak Ghar"

JOHN VAN BUREKWashington DC, June 13, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) John Van Burek lives in Toronto and is a director, translator and theater teacher. In 1997, he founded Pleiades Theater whose main goal is to celebrate global cultural diversity through plays that originate in languages other than English.

A scene from His current project has been to direct the English drama "The Post Office" translated from  "Dak Ghor" by Rabindanath Tagore. Translated by Dr. Julie Banerjee Mehta (also recently interviewed by WBRi) this is the first professional level performance of "The Post Office" in Canada. The play was  performed with an international cast from May 7 through June 4, 2011 at the Berkely Street Theatre in Toronto, Ontario. 2011 also marks the 100th anniversary of the writing of "The Post Office" which has been translated into some forty languages and performed all over the world.

Listen to a fascinating chat with John.

Bengali-American Singer-Songwriter Rimi Basu Talks About "Crossing Over": Interview and Audio Songs from Her Bangla-Fusion Album

[Rimi Basu - The First Rock Diva in Kolkata]Washington, DC, June 11, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Those of us who live in the Washington D.C. area continue to have the pleasure of watching the spectacular rise of the remarkably beautiful young and talented singer Rimi Basu in the United States as well as in the Indian music circuit. In this informal and intimate chat with Arijit Chakraborty, Rimi talks about her career in music, her interests, her recent release of the outstanding fusion album "Crossing Over" (you can listen to the songs along with the interview audio using the player) and her other projects, including her scintillating new music-video tribute to Michael Jackson which is widely believed to be the first of it's kind by an American woman born to immigrants from Bengal (watch a teaser from the full music video online). Do not miss Rimi's extempore and solo singing in this interview of a Nazrulgeeti as well as a number from "Crossing Over" - you will perhaps get a glimpse of her talent from the fact that she naturally sings with beauty, delicacy and aplomb with no accompaniment and little warning that she might have to!

Rimi is a versatile pop singer and danseuse, and her Bangla fusion album "Crossing Over" was actually completed in Kolkata recently, making an immediate mark on the Bangla music industry.

The album has some of the very best talent in music and video production in Bengal today, including Dibyendu Mukherji as composer, Chandrani Ganguly as Lyricist, and Rajib Chatterjee as Production Director.  Instrumentalists on the album are also the current leaders in the rock music scene of Kolkata, including Mainak “Bumpy” Nag Chowdhury on bass, Ratul Shankar on percussion, and Vikramjit “Tuki” Banerjee on guitar.

The album features a mileiu of different flavours and spans a range of emotions.  "Nesha Nesha" is a seductive number featuring Rimi rapping for the first time as well as Dibyendu's own vocals; "Phire Jaao" is Rimi's angry and emotional tribute to an ex-lover.  The song "O Sayeba" is a full-on Latin pop song that will make anyone want to Salsa, while the
ballad "Ele Naa" slows down the pace, showing Rimi's versatility.

Download The Album In Hi-Def Digital Mp3 Format from WBRi Music Store »

Interview: Director Saptaswa Basu Shares Thoughts On Pyschological Drama Thriller "The Forlorn" (Bengali, 2011) and Film-Making

Director Saptaswa BasuWashington DC, June 11, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) A young woman rents an apartment previously occupied by a researcher in para-psychology who died of mysterious circumstances. The apartment right across her is rented by a shrink.

One day, the woman finds the diary of the dead parapsychologist. She starts to read it, and gets fascinated.

As director Saptaswa Basu points out in this candid interview with Ananya Paul, "The Forlorn" (Bengali, 2011) is a psychological thriller centered around this young woman and the peculiar sensation we all get of being watched even when being alone. The film takes us on a journey into the contrasting fields of psychology and para-psychology. It is not a supernatural thriller, but more of an experimental suspense-drama which is made to appeal to a wide audience, not just Bengalees. In fact, Saptaswa indicates the film will be subtitled in English and he even plans a English-dubbed version.

Baul History 101 Part 2: Mysticism of the Soil Goes Global

By Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of an exclusive history of Bauls and Baul music of Bengal by the author. Also read Part-1 here.
You might also like our exclusive audio interview broadcast with the author available on-demand here.

George Harrison of Beatles and Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul     
Babukishan Das Baul and George Harrison of The Beatles

Bauls do not care for rules and regulations of the orthodox religions they are freedom (moksha) liberation seekers, the original bhakti yogi’s from West Bengal India. Bauls were the newspaper before the printed newspaper with a twist they are spiritual Guru’s, and spiritual messenger of the eternal truths of India. They believe in humanity, they do not negate the body, however this does not mean the body is the focus of everything. To them we are all divine gifts and our bodies are our temples, music is the path, actually you could call them Yogi sound healers of India.

The divine in the form of Radha and Krishna reside in the soul located on the altar of the heart within the human body. This is where the rasa lila dance takes place. The ekatara or Gopi Chand, one stringed musical instrument is the Bauls symbol of unity and peace. Bauls are lovers of Hari, of the divine, ecstatic mystical lovers, they are honey bees gathering the rasa (juice) grinding this juice into the pure love of God intoxication.

George Harrison of Beatles and Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul
Manju Das, Purna Das Baul, and son Krishnendu Das Baul aka Babukishan (the author)

The first Baul to wander far from the streets of Bengal was Purna Das Baul . As a young lad he pioneered Baul singing on the trains in British India at the tender age of 7 or 8, which eventually led him to all of India, Russia, America to Woodstock and just about every country in the World many times over for the past 60 years. Over the years he noticed everybody making money off of the Bauls, he felt the Bauls should be paid for what they do, they have families and the old ways of survival no longer work. Purna was an advocate of lifting the Bauls up he felt the Bauls should be the only ones gaining from their songs. Everybody was fundraising for their temples always saying, "oh come and sing a song for Krishna," the Bauls became the greatest fundraisers for everybody. Now it is time to raise funds for their own survival and preservation.

Baul History 101 Part 1: The Rasa Lila Mystics, Moner Manush, The Mirror of the Sky!

By Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

The Rasa Lila Mystics, Moner Manush, The Mirror of the Sky!

A Small History Lesson on the Bauls of Bengal

Editor's Note: This is part 1 of an exclusive history of Bauls and Baul music of Bengal by the author. Also read Part-2 here.
You might also like our exclusive audio interview broadcast with the author available on-demand here.

Baul Singer - History of Bauls by Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

New Baul performers do not know the History of The Bauls of Bengal. Most if not all of the new Bauls representing Baul today are not versed in Sanskrit, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Yoga, Indian Philosophy or Vedanta, yet this is the basis of being Baul. The new Baul singers have not been taught the incredible historical legacy that is The Bauls of Bengal, indeed, many are more interested in how they look or how they can make themselves a celebrity. There is no Bengal without Baul, and there is no Baul without Bengal. There is a soul connection between the Bauls and the soil of Bengal. I am sorry to say it, but scholars and writers on Baul have it wrong. They have either talked to the wrong Bauls or have cut and pasted what has been falsely written in books and articles regarding who the Baul are. Some are trying to popularize Bauls by saying that we are a rootless religion. This is one of the biggest distortions I have ever come across, and utterly wrong. First of all, Baul is not a religion, Baul is a path of Sanatana (eternal) Dharma, a path of sadhana. Baul roots are not only deep, they are ancient. If you do not know your eternal dharma and proceed on a path without roots you will never understand or gain the depth that is acquired from a strong foundation. In order to understand what truly separates Baul from religion, one needs to understand the history, the roots of Baul and its eternal dharma.

Baul Singer - History of Bauls by Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

The oral living lineage of the Baul of Bengal is like an ocean established thousands of years ago. The new rivers flow into the ocean, but the ocean does not flow into the river. The ocean can not become smaller. Every day the ocean becomes more vast, fed by the river which cannot but seek unity. A seed will grow roots then grow into a beautiful tree full of lush leaves, flowers and fruit. The fruit of this tree is called Baul. This fruit can only grow through sadhana. The juice or rasa of Baul is alive because this lineage has kept the light burning for thousands of years of pure devotion. In my observations, the new Bauls are trying to change the unchangeable ocean of the Bauls of Bengal, severing the roots, but without the roots the tree will not grow for future generations. Baul is a mystical tradition of sadhana, a disciple parampara oral living lineage. My lineage, being the oldest living lineage of Baul, pertains to the original ecstatic devotional singer. We are Tantric Bhakti Yogis from West Bengal India. It is now 2011 and we are at a crossroad. In which direction will Baul proceed?

WBRi Feature: Deepen Mallick (Steel Guitar) & Tutul Ganguly (Spanish Guitar) Celebrate Tagore 150 with Instrumental Album

[Deepen Mallick][Tutul Ganguly]
Deepen Mallick & Tutul Ganguly

[Deepen Mallick & Tutul Ganguly - Instrumental Guitar Tagore Songs]Washington DC, June 4, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Indian guitarists Deepen Mallick and Tutul Ganguly have released an instrumental Rabindrasangeet album commemorating Rabindranath Tagore's 150th anniversary. We at WBRi loved the album with it's mature, sophisticated instrumentation that you can listen to online using the player above, thanks to Deepen and Tutul for sharing it with you - our audience. Deepen tells us the album should be available shortly on Amazon.com: Deepen Mallick & Tutul Ganguly »

Read all about Deepen and Tutul and their great new album and listen to the audio track online via Washington Bangla Radio.

Interview:Ranadeep Sarkar on Bengali Horror-Suspense Thriller THE UNKNOWN (2011) & Background Experience with Tollywood Movies

[Bengali Film-Maker Ranadeep]Washington DC, June 3, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Ananya Paul catches up in this audio interview with Ranadeep Sarkar who also goes by the name Rann and is one of the youngest film-makers from Kolkata we have had the opportunity to have as a guest on WBRi. Ranadeep's first independently directed short film "The Unknown" will premiere in Kolkata on June 6, 2011 at 4:30 PM at Max Mueller Bhavan. "The Unknown" is a modern suspense-horror thriller made with family-viewing in mind and, as you will hear Ranadeep describe, is likely to be the precursor to a full-length Bengali feature film around a similar theme that Ranadeep wants to make.

Talented Rabindrasangeet Singer Sunanda Ghosh from Kolkata on her Music, Albums, Career and Experience - WBRi Feature

[Sunanda Ghosh]Kolkata, June 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In this video interview, Sudipta Dasgupta talks to Sunanda Ghosh, the talented singer from Kolkata specializing in Rabindrasangeet (songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore.) Sunanda holds a Masters degree in Rabindrasangeet from Rabindra Bharati University and is also a Geet Bharati (Rabindrasangeet) degree holder with distinction from Geeta Bitan, Kolkata. Sunanda has been trained by eminent exponents Anadi Dastidar, Subinoy Roy, Ramesh Bandopadhyay, Bade Gulam Ali, her father Saila Kr. Ghosh, Maya Sen and also Nihar Bindu Bandopadhyay in Classical Vishnupuri vocal.

Sunanda has four published albums, with more upcoming:

  • Pratibadi Rabindranath (2007)
  • Bishwabandanaye Rabindranath (2009, Saregama)
  • Cholochitre Rabindranath (2011, Raaga Music) - launched by Dwijen Mukherjee
  • Aalor Pathajatri - launched by Sunil Ganguly

[Sunanda Ghosh & Sunil Ganguly]
Writer-Poet Sunil Ganguly launching Sunanda's album "Aalor Pathajatri"

All four albums feature modern instrumentation that will appeal to the current generation and have been received well. Sunanda is currently involved in a Govt. of India sponsored project on a patriotic album with pan-Indian appeal.

Interview: Julie Banerjee Mehta - Expert Author Journalist & Translator of Pleiades Theater Toronto's "The Post Office"

[The Post Office]DEATH IS NOT THE END BUT THE BEGINNING : This aspect of Eastern Philosophy attracted John Van Burek - director of the theater group at Pleiades Theater in Toronto, and he wanted someone to translate "Dak Ghar" ( ডাকঘর ) written by Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore in the year 1911, not only as a part of the celebration of Rabindranath's 150th anniversary, but also to commemorate the centenary of the creation of this play, which Rabindranath Tagore wrote at a time when he faced so many tragedies in his personal life.

Meet Dr. Julie Banerjee Mehta who currently teaches at the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Her Ph.D. dissertation is entitled "Retrieving Precolonial Identity through the Images of the Divine Feminine in Waterscapes of Postcolonial Fiction" and she is a gold medalist alumna of Jadavpur University, Kolkata where she earned her Master's degree in English Literature.

While having a candid discussion with Arijit Chakraborty in the studio of Washington Bangla Radio from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she talks about her feelings when she was requested to translate "Dak-Ghar" into English, so that the concept of Tagore can be introduced to a broader section of the Canadian population. 

Suddhashil Chatterjee - Promising North-Indian Classical Instrumental Santoor Player : WBRi Feature

Suddhashil is one of the most promising Santoor exponents of the younger generation. He started his initial training of vocal music from his mother. Later, he started taking his intensive talim of Indian Classical Vocal from Pt. Samaresh Chaudhury. Read all about Suddhasil and listen to his Santoor playing.