Ten years ago, when Bengali band Bhoomi took the stage, they didn’t know that they would hold the reins of folk fusion. What the Sutta... song is to the cosmopolitan student, their music is for those smoke breaks and long adda (chat) sessions in Kolkata colleges. Bhoomi has signed a three-album deal with Universal Music, for the next three Durga Pujas.
The band comprises of Soumitra Ray (lead singer), Surojit Chatterjee (vocals, lyrics), Sanjoy Mukherjee (percussion), Abhijit Ghosh (bass), Robin Lai (violin, keyboards), and Hemanto Goswami (lead guitarist). Chatterjee says, “We’re happy to be associated with an international label. Bangla folk has rhythm and pulse. We’re lucky that people of every age make Bhoomi their music, which doesn’t clash with the audience that listens to, say, Hariprasad Chaurasia. It all depends on how you market yourself, and folk is our forte.”
The first album will have 10 songs in all. “We never lecture, but we’ve based some songs on topical issues like murder and riots. We’re bringing out our own album after three years, so it’s really important for us,” adds Chatterjee.
Bhoomi has toured the world, but two concerts hold significance, “One was at the United Nations Headquarters, where even a non-English speaking audience sang with us. The other one was the Jazz Fest at Montreal. We sold out the 140 CDs we carried,” Chatterjee recalls.
Chatterjee’s theory is simple: “We are entertainers; we want people to have a good time,” he says. They follow folk styles like baul, bhatiyali and qawwali. Instrumentally, their repertoire includes thumbas, djembe, mandolin, matka and more.
Bhoomi will be performing in Mumbai during the Durga Puja this time. Will they ever compose Bollywood music? “Why not? But it’s not our aim in life. If something nice comes along, we’d surely consider,” Chatterjee says.
His favourite musicians include RD Burman, Ilaiyaraaja, AR Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj. Mainstream music, he says, has changed a lot. “The good thing is new directors want new sounds. In Bengali films also, directors are opting for young singers.” They recently gave music for Mithun Chakraborty-starrer Hada And Bhoda. “The change can be seen in Bollywood too. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are making some amazing music. The youth should enter the scene,” Chatterjee asserts.