In a tryst where politics met music, West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently released Bengali folk band Bhoomi’s latest album, Desh Jurrey. The album, whose title means one nation in Bengali, features regional folk songs from across the country sung with Bangla lyrics. “Since the album is a compilation of various folk melodies from different parts of India sung in Bengali, who could have been more ideal to launch it than the chief minister of Bengal? We are very grateful that she could find the time to do us this favour,” says the vocalist Surojit Chatterjee.
Ask Chatterjee about what made the band conceptualise this distinctive project, that also includes popular Lavani and Bhangra tunes, and he says, “We have been fascinated by the different folk forms like Nepali, Marathi, Rajasthani, Goan, Punjabi and many more from India’s rich folk heritage. Our idea is to bring some of these melodies to our listeners, who are primarily Bengalis from all over the world.”
However, Chatterjee admits that marrying Bengali lyrics to regional tunes wasn’t a cakewalk, saying, “We had to work a lot because writing the lyrics was difficult. More so for songs like Dumadum mast kalandar… since the original Sindhi song is already popular in its original format as the legendary Runa Laila sang it. Similarly, we had to work hard on Punjabi folk songs Tutak tutak tutia…or Jugni…. But we have done our best and the listeners should judge the rest,” he says.
Desh Jurrey is the twelfth album released by the band, which was formed in 1999. Bhoomi has since toured the world, and has performed at the prestigious International Jazz Festival at Montreal, Canada. The band was also the first Indian outfit to perform for the United Nations in 2006.