“Hawa Bodoler Gaan” heralds a watershed moment for Bengali Independent Music

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Music as we all know is the greatest healer, it can bring joy, roll down tears and most importantly unite souls. In a first such initiative by 26 Bangla singer/songwriters/composers who brought their latent musical faculties together to craft their maiden project which resonated with the ethos, turmoil, and joys of life and prevalent social milieu. Over the last couple of months after immense hard work, these incredibly talented bunch of Bengali independent musicians launched – “Hawa Bodoler Gaan” an audio-visual series featuring 26 singer-song writers who shall perform 33 unreleased compositions and 7 cover versions of popular interpretation of popular songs. For the first time a unique social experiment was done on 41 listeners. The entire initiative is a step towards creating a cluster of homogeneous blends of fresh talents along with some established names in the Bengali music industry. The launch of the event took place today at Eastern Metropolitan Club in the august presence of notable singers/composers from the Bengali music fraternity.

“Hawa Bodoler Gaan” audio-visual series features contributions from a varied range of artists active in Bengal’s independent music scene. This series, supported by Wind of Change resto café aims to provide Bengali singer- songwriters and musicians from all backgrounds the chance to create authentic soundscapes inspiring new creativity. Discerning audience of Bengali music can see the videos on a newly created YouTube channel titled ‘Hawa Bodol’. Audio for all original compositions will be released and distributed by UD Series in the form of six albums spread out over the course of four months. Each album is comprised of six singles, created by different independent artists and will be available across all reputed audio streaming platforms.

Amidst glitterati present to support these independent artists, Abhisek Chakraborty, independent artist, and composer who has brought everyone together for this mammoth project, averred, “Music has always been an integral part of Bengali culture and identity. Bengali artists have shaped the musical sensibilities not only in Bengal but on a national and international scale. With this project the artists involved seek to re-imagine the cultural nexus between Bengali popular culture and music and showcase the undiscovered talent of Bengal in a contemporary art space. Film soundtracks may be more familiar to listeners, but Bengal has a long history of showcasing the work of independent musicians in fields as diverse as classical folk, pop, and rock. The collective’s goal is to use this legacy to establish a space in which up-and-coming artists can generate opportunities for themselves and their contemporaries to demonstrate their breadth of talent and dedication to their craft in front of a larger audience.”

The entire shooting process for all the songs was a first of its kind not only in Bengal but entire country through a social experiment, where 41 participants/listeners were selected and had to sit blindfolded before the singer. Once the singer started crooning the song the covers were removed after 30 seconds. While the participants had no idea who was singing in front of them the singer too did not know them, the result, spontaneous and undiluted flow of emotions, reciprocation to the song they were hearing for the first time was captured through the lens. This was indeed a cathartic moment for many as the lyrics touched their souls and took them down the memory lane.    

Since independent musicians are self-reliant, it is important to keep abreast of how the music financial model has changed, post the pandemic. Performing artists have had a setback due to gig revenue drying up worldwide. The music landscape has evolved over the last two years, and creators / artists are navigating a new digital landscape. It can help unlock new opportunities but also poses unique challenges that may be daunting, particularly for independent artists and creators.

Wind of Change resto café gifted this entire initiative to the Independent Bengali music fraternity as a part of celebration of their first anniversary and throughout the last one year they have always supported various independent musicians by providing them a stage to showcase their passion for their craft. Without their support this mammoth project would have been a distant dream.

Mr. Amit Mandal, owner of Wind of Change resto café, who invested in the project, said, “At Wind of Change it has been our motto to support Bengali Music, thus we have dedicated space for independent Bengali artists for live shows and busking at our café. It is exciting to see so many independent Bengali artists herald a new wave of creativity and engagement that will put Bengal’s music firmly back on the music map of India. We remain committed to partner with them and provide everyone with an opportunity to achieve their ambitions.”

Musicians as a fraternity need to lend their support to one another’s musical endeavours and to encourage audiences to provide opportunities for independent artists to demonstrate their skills and contribute to Bengal’s wide-ranging musical palette. Esteemed singer songwriters and composers such as Ranjan Prasad, Silajit MajumdarRupam Islam, Anupam Roy, Siddhartha Roy (Sidhu) Lopamudra Mitra, Surajit Chatterjee, Arijit Mazumdar, Upal Sengupta and Gaurab Chatterjee (Gaboo) and Timir Biswas have time and again urged audiences to support young musicians especially during their live performances or digital/offline concerts. Many artists and bands have taken to the internet to showcase their work experimenting with sounds and instruments. People are now more willing to listen to experimental music from unknown artists. In a country dominated by Bollywood/film music, the sudden emergence of independent artists has been remarkably impressive. While indie artists have always been part of India’s rich musical heritage, what has driven their recent rise are digital platforms that have given them a much-welcome alternative. Consequently, homegrown streaming platforms have been instrumental in charting the resurgence of independent music in India. Indie artists are undoubtedly the next big bet in India’s vibrant music scene for producers and industry watchers.

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