Suman’s songs can now be heard in Odia

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New Delhi: Noted singer Namrata Mohanty, who released Nazrul Geeti in Odia last year, has lent her voice to the 12 songs of the album of Suman’s songs named ‘Anya Katha Anya Gita’. The lyrics have been translated by Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee.

Cuttack: Now, songs of Cuttack-born legendary Bengali singer-songwriter-musician Kabir Suman can be heard in Odia — the language which he spoke first while growing up in Cuttack for six years, before moving to Calcutta and learning Bengali. This audio album of 12 most popular songs of Suman translated into Odia is a musical tribute to mark his deep connection with Odisha, especially his birthplace Cuttack and the river Kathajodi which he still loves and reminisces.

“I never thought it would happen. Never even dreamed of it. I started to speak Odia before I spoke Bengali. I was born close to the sweet river Kathajodi at Cuttack in 1949. Only a man born on the banks of a river knows what a river is. Today, as I stare before me and think of my departure, my childhood memories come back to me with the sound of my river Kathajodi,” says Suman when informed about the making of this album.

Cuttack-based singer Namrata Mohanty, who released Nazrul Geeti in Odia last year, has lent her voice to the album named ‘Anya Katha Anya Gita’ (Other Words, Other Songs). Renowned writer and director of IIMC Dhenkanal Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee has translated the lyrics. “Suman’s lyrics are first rate poetry. This is my first attempt in translation of songs, and I must say it proved very difficult,” he said.

“Today, as my life draws towards its end, I think back and revisit in my imagination Cuttack where my senses started to grow, where I gradually became aware of everything. I thank all the good people who are recording my songs in Odia. My salute and love to all who are involved in this project. My heart goes out to them. May the people of Odisha enjoy these songs,” adds Suman.

Suman, who worked as a broadcast journalist (Senior Editor) in the US and Germany for several years and whose songs have already been translated into English in 1994, says further, “I feel honoured that some of my songs are being published in Odia, one of the sweetest languages of the world which I naturally learned along with Bengali (my mother told me that as a kid I spoke more Odia than Bengali) following my birth in Cuttack. This is the first time my songs are being adapted to another language. And I’m so very happy that it is Odia because that was the language that surrounded me when I was born. I never thought it would happen. Never even dreamed of it. It’s an Act of Destiny!”

Singer Namrata Mohanty, who is a classically trained B-High grade singer of AIR, Cuttack since 1983 with numerous solo and compilation Odia albums to her credit besides an album of traditional Hindi bhajans, says, “We had adapted and recorded the most popular song of Suman named Tomake Chai last year with a different music arrangement on experimental basis. We uploaded the song on YouTube and it became very popular. Encouraged by the overwhelming response from our Odia listeners and especially from the die-hard fans and followers of Suman spread across the globe, we decided to go ahead with a complete studio album of 12 songs.”

“It was a great challenge for me to record this album as the lyrics as well as the musical styles are totally different. The words are so powerful and thought-provoking. Music arranger and sound engineer Nitya Sriranjan has worked very hard to give the best possible output. My album is a humble tribute to the musical creative genius who was born and brought up in our city,” she says further.

“Suman’s songs deserve a far wider audience than what they have received in the two Bengals, because even while they are located within a specific geo-cultural context, the humanity, hope, love, concern and anger they express are universal. Also, the musical accomplishment of Kabir Suman, his amazing range of melodies deserve a much wider listenership. Hope the Odia versions set a trend that is picked up in other parts of our subcontinent. I believe this is significantly more important than getting the songs translated into Western languages. I congratulate the musicians of Odisha on this remarkable achievement,” says Sudipto Chatterjee, Professor in Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in the Social Sciences, Calcutta.

Songs of Kabir Suman (formerly Suman Chattopadhyay), popularly known as Sumaner Gaan redefined and revolutionized modern Bengali music in the early nineties. His numerous solo albums released by HMV sold like hot cakes. Also known as the Bob Dylan of India, Suman has written, composed, arranged and sung over 1,000 songs. As a one-man band, he also plays all the instruments himself in his recordings and live performances. He is also a celebrated poet, author and political activist.

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