“I was born close to the sweet river Kathajodi at Cuttack in 1949. Only a man born on the banks of a river knows what a river is. Today, as I stare before me and think of my departure, my childhood memories come back to me with the sound of my river Kathajodi,” – Kabir Suman
- Devdas Chhotray and Mrinal Chatterjee done the lyrical adaptations and translations
- Noted singer Namrata Mohanty has lent her voice to the 12 songs of the album named ‘Tumaku Chahein’
Celebrated Bangla Poet Kabir Suman’s songs can now be heard in Odia which is translated from his Music Album ‘Tomake Chai’. This audio album of 12 popular songs of Suman, a musical tribute to mark his deep connection with Odisha, especially his birthplace Cuttack and the river Kathajodi which he still loves and reminisces
“I never thought it would happen. Never even dreamed of it. I started to speak Odia before I spoke Bengali. I was born close to the sweet river Kathajodi at Cuttack in 1949. Only a man born on the banks of a river knows what a river is. Today, as I stare before me and think of my departure, my childhood memories come back to me with the sound of my river Kathajodi,” says Cuttack-born legendary Bengali singer, songwriter, musician Kabir Suman, when informed about the making of this album.
While renowned lyricist Devdas Chhotray has done the lyrical adaptations working upon the translations of the songs provided by eminent writer and director of IIMC Dhenkanal Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee, Cuttack-based singer Namrata Mohanty who released Nazrul Geeti in Odia early this year, has lent her voice to the album named ‘Tumaku Chahein (I Want You)’.
“Today, as my life draws towards its end, I think back and revisit in my imagination Cuttack where my senses started to grow, where I gradually became aware of everything. I thank all the good people who are recording my songs in Odia, especially my new found friend Devdas who has done a great job. My heart goes out to them,” adds Kabir Suman.
Suman, who worked as a broadcast journalist in the US and Germany for several years and whose songs have already been translated into English in 1994, says further, “This is the first time my songs are being adapted to another language. And I’m so very happy that it is Odia because that was the language that surrounded me when I was born.”
Singer Namrata Mohanty, who is an AIR artiste with numerous solo and compilation Odia albums to her credit besides an album of traditional Hindi bhajans, says, “We had adapted and recorded the most popular song of Suman named Tomake Chai last year with a different music arrangement on experimental basis. We uploaded the song on YouTube and it became very popular. Encouraged by the overwhelming response from our Odia listeners and especially from the die-hard fans and followers of Suman spread across the globe, we decided to go ahead with a complete studio album of twelve such songs but with the same music arrangement this time which Suman had played himself. We hope the listeners would like the other songs too which are all very unique from each other.”
The twelve popular songs of Suman which have found a place in the album are Tomake Chai, Jatishwar, Protidin Surjyo Otthe, Tomar Tulona, Sararat Jolechhe. Tomar Songe Eka, Nayantara, Sara Dao, Bhalobasa, Kangalpona, Kakhono Somoy Ase and Tumi Dekhbe. “While the first ten are transcendental love songs, the last two are pro-life songs of hope and aspiration.
‘Tomake Chai’ is apparently a love song but more properly it celebrates intrinsic love of a person for his mother tongue,” points out Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee who has translated the songs into Odia.
“Suman’s songs deserve a far wider audience than what it has received in the two Bengals. Hope the Odia versions set a trend that’s picked up in other parts of our subcontinent. I believe this is significantly more important than getting the songs translated into European languages. I congratulate the musicians of Odisha,” says Dr. Sudipto Chatterjee, Professor in Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in the Social Sciences, Calcutta.