Kabir Suman says: Part 1

I thank everyone who has congratulated me for the national award. I lower my head in modesty for my shortcomings as a musician. On listening to my JaatishMar work today I realize anew that I should have done better. I feel happy for Srijit Mukherjee, the director, who had to overcome all sorts of hurdles to engage me as the music director. In at least two channel interviews he openly said everyone opposed his decision to engage me (Kabir Suman). It was Srijit who gave me the texts of the 13 Kabiyal songs which I put to tune. You listen to the Kabiyal songs and you get a taste of his perception and intellect. Making music has never been even half as joyous as it was when I started putting the texts to tune. It was the blessings of my Gurus and all the great musicians of Bengal that guided me; that brought those melodies out of me. When I think that none of my Gurus is alive today, when I think that almost all the great musicians of Bengal are no more I feel sad. I wish my Gurus had heard the Kabiyal songs. It’s such a joy that Srijit’s movie has won four national awards. Rupankar, who is endowed with a marvellous timbre, had to bear with my incessant corrections. I made him work like a slave. He put up with my relentlessness with a stoic elegance that I shall always remember with respect and admiration. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that Rupankar sang my compositions under my direction and has won the best singer award. I feel so proud of Rupankar and Srijit. I take this opportunity to thank Srikanta, Sromona, Monomoy, Kharaj who, much like most Bongs I have come across in my life, got me totally wrong when I made a statement in an interview and maligned me in a statement that “E-Bela” carried. He coolly forgot that I encouraged him, egged him on to sing the song “chinta nai chintamonir biroho” even at the cost of compromising my composition (my assistant director, the competent musician Indradip commented during the recording, “you are compromising in your work”) because he was after all no practising singer, he had his limitations but still he was delivering something that had the stamp of a character. I had to change the melody here and there to accommodate him – something that I didn’t have to do for any other singer. Poor man, he misunderstood me and misquoted me deliberately. I told most of my singers to sing the way Kishore Kumar did – directly, without any display of emotion. Concretely. He misquoted me the way too many Bengalis have done over the last 22 years. However, I thank him for his efforts and for the good work he delivered and I sympathise with him should he feel sorry that I got the award. I know there are people who are happy because of the success of Srijit’s film, especially because of my getting the award. And I know there are many others who feel upset…mostly because of Kabir Suman’s success in a movie that was not supposed to have him as a contributing agent. My heartfelt sympathies for all these crestfallen people and for the present government of West Bengal, this hapless state, who made it a point not to ever consider me for any award from the many awards that were given liberally and politically to many musicians and singers. I sympathise with the deep sorrow that the pro-Mamata print media might be feeling in their entrails now. Don’t worry, Friends, even this pain will pass. I express my sympathies for the cultural advisers to the Great Captain, at least one of whom opined in a pro-Mamata daily that there was nothing special about the music of JatishMar. I convey my sympathies to all those media managers and journalists who, over the last 22 years, had only the most unkind things to say about me and my work. I wish them peace and joy. I wink in the most friendly way at all the great Bong cartoonists who drew interesting cartoons of a bald headed or bearded bum with a guitar in his hand. My best wishes go to their employers and the editors who made them draw those cartoons. I raise my glass of port to all those Bong institutions of Bengal who had made vilifying me and making fun of my songs a habit. Ah! How sad and frustrated those great minds must be feeling now. I should tell them to take it easy. There is nothing monumental about national awards. They are given to people every year. That’s a routine. So, take it easy, Friends. I thank all the musicians who delivered quality work in the JatishMar recordings and I thank Shubhro and Amit who were our recording engineers. I thank all the young men and women who sang in the chorus that I composed and directed for Srijit’s movie. I feel a great joy when I think of all the happy young men and women who had to suffer when the System insulted me and my songs repeatedly since the release of Tomake Chai, when the media and political parties made fun of me, maligned me. Today, these young men and women are smiling, making me endlessly happy at the final phase of my life. I have stopped taking life long ago. I know who I am, what I am and what I am worth. In all humility I stand at the service of Indian music. Remember if you can: I was born to serve Indian music and as a servant I am immensely inferior to all the great musicians our subcontinent has produced. Love to you all.

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