Nightingale of Bangla folk Poushali Banerjee coming to Bangladesh

Vijaya Laxmi Tripura

This is possibly the only newspaper in the world, where we work with music played in mild sound all around, though we aren’t any entertainment publication. Rather, Blitz is a very serious type of newspaper covering key issues, which makes it extremely important source of information to the global policymakers, especially to those in the West. For past sixteen-plus years, we have been continuing our journey as a newspaper of distinctive difference. But of course, every member of this publication group are heavily inclined towards music, especially because of the great influence of our loving editor – to many of us, he is the mentor. Possibly most of our readers are yet to know – Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who is an internationally acclaimed multi-award winning journalist and editor of Blitz is also a lyricist and tuner. What Mr. Choudhury always says – journalism is his commitment while music is his life. Without music, he cannot breath. In Bangladesh, especially to most of the prominent singers including legendary Runa Laila, Andrew Kishore and others, he is known as one of the finest lyricists and tuners (they know him as Shoaib Choudhury).  Millions of his friends and admirers around the world though know him as the most courageous individual, who has been confronting radical Islam taking risk of his life and defending the State of Israel, it is important for everyone to know –  in a lyricist and tuner Shoaib Choudhury, there truly is a saint [in Bangla they call him Shadhok] who not only is the truest and finest example of secularism but also someone who holds the spirit of love for the mankind and promotes interfaith harmony.

Although he writes Bangla modern songs, English and Urdu songs – his specialty possibly is in Bangla folk songs, because those are extremely deep in philosophy and his tunes are magnificent. Since childhood, he has learnt classical music and that possibly now helps him in giving life to his lyrics with tunes that can easily hypnotize any music lover. Even singers like Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan could not stop from being absolutely astonished knowing about the fineness of Mr. Choudhury’s Urdu lyrics and superb tunes. Singers in the West too will sing his English songs soon.

Bangladesh is famous for its rich wealth of folk music for centuries. This is the country, which has given birth to legends like Lalon Fakir, Hason Raja, Radha Romon, Arkum Shai, Durbeen Shah, Shah Abdul Karim and many others. Now Bangladesh is gifted with another talent – Shoaib Choudhury. Yes, he is another addition to the list and will be remembered through his songs to everyone, even hundreds of years of his departure from this world.

One thing all of us know, as a lyricist and tuner, Shadhok Shoaib is not only extremely mesmeric but while selecting his singers, he is very choosy and sometime ruthless. He does not compromise in music with anyone. For that reason, it is difficult to be included in the list of his singers. He rarely praises a singer. But, to our greatest pleasure, he has introduced Poushali Banerjee, a singer from the West Bengal in India – a name many of Bangladeshis are yet to know. According to him, Poushali Banerjee has the God-gifted talent and a superb voice to mesmerize her audience. Many of the members of this newspaper since then had searched for video or audio clips of this singer on the social video sharing and audio sharing sites. Unfortunately, all we could find were some of her songs in fast beat. We Bangladeshis generally love soul-soothing soft-type folk songs. We really dislike turning folk songs – which has much to do with extreme philosophical ingredient into pop songs. Although some of the folk songs such as Sadher Lau Banailo Morey Boiragi was composed in pop pattern and had become extremely popular. But with the passage of time, that has gradually been eclipsed as it had though entertained the listeners but never had been able reaching people’s world of thoughts.

Good news is – Poushali Banerjee is scheduled to visit Bangladesh in August and she will be singing a number of songs written and tuned exclusively for her by Shoaib Choudhury. Mr. Choudhury, while commenting on Ms. Banerjee said, “She is one of the finest folk singers – tomorrow’s nightingale of Bangla folk. Last year, I first came to know about Poushali and immediately decided to write and tune a number of songs for her. When a lyricist writes a song for a particular singer, s/he automatically inherits the parenthood of that song. Poushali Banerjee is the mother of those songs I have written and tuned for her. Without her voice, those songs will turn orphan. So far, no one has done justice to this magnificent singer. She still doesn’t have songs of her own”.

According to her Facebook Page, Poushali Banerjee is described as a folk singer who belongs from Santiniketan, the world-known institution founded by Rabindra Nath Tagore. She was blessed to have her mother beside her to usher that passion being the first and foremost Sangeet Guru [Musical mentor] in her life from the tender age of four. In her later age, Poushali was privileged getting enriched by many proficient singing personalities. Guinness Book of World Record has awarded her for her continuous 29-hour performance. She received National scholarship in 2009 in Rabindra Sangeet. Poushali Bannerjee got a break through a musical reality show named Saregamapa in 2017. Onwards, she has been regularly performing on stages all over Poshchim Banga and around India. She also appears on Indian television channels. Well, that’s not enough to introduce a singer of her stature to our international readers, unfortunately though, there isn’t enough exposure in the English press about this most promising singer from Bengal, who mesmerizes her audience through her platinum voice. In my personal views, Poushali Banerjee is a complete performer. She not only gives life to each of the songs she sings, but she always holds her signature smile thus building a connection with her audience.

As our readers are aware, we do not cover anyone unless s/he is very special or extraordinary. In past 16 years of our publication, we have hardly featured 10-12 individuals from different walks of life. Before featuring someone, our team spends hours on doing some research on that person. Being assigned, I also had to surf on the net to find as much as information I could on Poushali Banerjee.

As we know by now, Poushali is a student of Santiniketan and had scholarship in Rabindra Sangeet [Tagore songs] it is again a great curiosity as to how she has made her position as a folk singer. People may argue, but fact is – pattern of Tagore and folk songs are distinctively different. People say folk is the mother of all music. I do believe in that. If we look into the songs of Lalon Fakir, for example, we can find the fragrance of deep philosophical thoughts combined with tunes that represent the very original Bangaliness. Many of the contemporary folk lyricists follow the philosophy of Lalon Fakir. So, for a Santiniketan student, having mastered in Tagore songs, it was possibly a great challenge for Poushali Banerjee in establishing her position in the world of folk music. It requires special zeal and qualities, and certainly she has proved herself to be superbly succeeding in it. Another specialty in Ms. Banerjee is her art of delivering each of the words. It seems as if she spends enough time in experimenting on the lyrics and tune thus finally inhaling the entire theme before delivering it to her audience. Her voice is melodious and powerful – may be a bit husky, which again is like an ornament to folk songs.

Possibly because of her Santiniketan background, Poushali puts special emphasis on pronunciation. That is again very much essential. But of course, pronunciation of Tagore and folk songs are totally different. In folk, it requires the pronunciation mixed with the very fragrance of the soil. Here again, she has mastered the art.

Ms. Poushali Banerjee, Bangladesh warmly welcomes you to this land of folk music and we believe you can’t stop from falling into love with this country. Yes, we know, your parents hail from Bangladesh – more precisely from Bikrampur in Munshiganj district. Shall we say – welcome back home Poushali Banerjee?

Vijaya Laxmi Tripura is a research scholar, senior journalist and special correspondent of Blitz.

Leave a Comment