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Rabindranath Tagore birthday: Rabindra Sangeet has been a tutorial for us

On Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday (May 7), singers Shaan, Kumar Sanu and Dr Palash Sen talk about the impact his poetry and music have had on their art

Musicians often talk about the importance of Rabindra Sangeet, Rabindranath Tagore poetry and compositions, for honing their skills. It forms an integral part of the Bengali cultural heritage and has been used in several Bengali and non-Bengali film songs over the years. On Tagore’s birthday today, singers Shaan, Kumar Sanu and Dr Palash Sen tell us how his poetry and music has influenced them as musicians.

Shaan

As a Bengali born and brought up in Mumbai, I always felt like I missed out on my Bengali roots. I also felt incomplete as a singer and Bengali to not have explored Rabindra Sangeet. So, when I decided to record a Rabindra Sangeet album in my late 30s, I realised what I’d been missing out on. His poetry has depth and his compositions are so intrinsic, something like spiritually in guise of romance and vice versa. It was a huge learning. It opened up a whole new world for me and it helped me evolve in thought and perspective. I have been taking refuge in Tagore songs ever since, they are like my getaway and part of me time. Though I have never tried to consciously use Gurudev’s works as inspiration or influence, I’m sure they must have made a positive impression somewhere in my thinking and music.

Favourite Tagore work: Shudhu Tomar Bani and Tumi Robe Nirobe

Kumar Sanu

I’ve grown up listening to Rabindranath Tagore’s songs. Even I’ve recorded a lot of his songs in my singing career, including Je Chilo Amar Swapono Charini. His songs are like a tutorial for musicians, as they are not easy to sing. You need a lot of passion and complete understanding of his poetry. His work has had a huge impact on me as a singer. I believe if you sing Tagore songs regularly, you skill has a singer really hones. You can imbibe thehraav and variations in your singing if you sing Rabindra Sangeet.

Favourite Tagore work: Tumi Robe Nirobe

Dr Palash Sen

Early on in my life, I don’t think I was influenced by Rabindranath Tagore aka Kobiguru’s life, music or persona because I equated his poetry to sad songs. Since I was brought up in Jammu & Kashmir by my nana-nani, I was not that influenced by Bengali music as such. It was around my 21 birthday that I discovered his music. I was watching the film Charulata (1964) and heard the song Ami Chini Go Chini Tomare sung by Kishore Kumar and it was such a lilting melody that I got hooked to it. I asked my father what it meant and it was romance at its peak. I fell in love with Rabindra Sangeet that day onwards. My sister introduced me to his other works. After listening to his songs, I learnt how to express something in a really simple way. I’ve learnt versatility from him, too.

Favourite Tagore work: Ami Chini Go Chini Tomare and Akash Bhora


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