Rabindra Sangeet to restore Kolkata to its halcyon days

Posted By: Biswajeet Panda
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Rabindranath Tagore
Kolkata, Jul 7: 'Eta Rabindra Sangeet-er somay (It's time for Rabindra Sangeet)', has been a common refrain for the Bengali masses who try to find a way out of their daily chores to escape into a mystical world that is offered by the timeless music of Rabindra Nath Tagore's poems. But if things go as planned Kolkata, which is fondly known as the city of joy, might soon be bidding adieu to irritating honks of vehicles at traffic signals, and instead grooving to the soothing Rabindra Sangeet.

West Bengal government has announced plans to play the songs penned by 'Kobi guru' (as Tagore is referred to by Bengalis) at traffic signals.

The songs will be played from loudspeakers installed at the signals whenever there is a stop sign at the intersections. The scheme is part of a Rs 10 lakh project put forward by the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government to beautify the capital city.

There are plans to bring the arrangements into effevt before the Durga Puja festival in October. As expected the The decision is drawing praise from singers and intellectuals.

Noted painter Suvaprasanna sees this as a positive step and has been quoted by IANS as saying, "Our chief minister has some dreams for Kolkata. She wants it to regain its halycon days when it was one of the leading and beautiful cities of the world. Her declaration to make Kolkata like London should be seen as a desire to make it a clean, international and aesthetically beautiful city. The plan to use strains of Rabindra Sangeet at traffic signals should be seen in that light."

And added, "But we have to first control use of car horns to reduce the cacophony on the streets. And then we can savour the soothingness of the melodious songs of Tagore as they wait for the signal to turn red. This will break the monotony also."

His sentiments were echoed by veteran singer Haimanti Shukla, who said, "It's great. I am so happy. Tagore songs are a class in themselves. No other song can match them. I welcome this move. I am looking forward to enjoying it."

However the Opposition parties are not too impressed by the plan and have dismissed it as 'trivialisation' of Rabindra Sangeet.

IANS has quoted Khiti Goswami, a top RSP leader as saying, "A primary feature of Tagore compositions is the depth of the songs. One needs to be meditative to relish the beauty of such compositions. In the cacophony of the streets, one cannot soak in the spirit of such songs."

And added, "It is a very shallow outlook. It is nothing but trivializing Tagore songs. Instead, the government should think of playing soft, instrumental music."

Irrespective of what the Opposition parties might be thinking, the West Bengal government's move may just go on to prove a significant one in reinstating Kolkata to its halcyon days.

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