Monthly Archives: December 2015

‘An Indian singer with an international tone’

Kolkata :

When the news of the demise of singer Subir Sen broke out on Tuesday morning, many echoed that it was the end of an era, an era where an Indian musician mastered an international tonal quality and impressed not just with his singing and compositional skill but also his large-hearted nature.

Sen was 82 when he succumbed to cancer on Tuesday at a private nursing home in the city . He is survived by his daughter.

Known for his work in Chhoti Bahen’ and ‘Katputli’ in Bollywood, Sen is popular for his songs like `Dheere chalao zara’ with Lata Mangeshkar and `Humein un rahon par’, besides his hits in Bengali like `Oi ujjawalo dwip’ and Eto sur aar eto gaan’.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee condoled his death.In her tweet, she wrote: “Saddened at the passing away of legendary singer Subir Sen. He is our Banga Bibhushan. He will always be in our hearts.”

Music director Abhijit Banerjee, who had composed Monalisa tumi ki bolona’ for Sen, described the singer as a king with a big heart and a wide perspective’. While the initial stage of his career saw him singing Hemant Kumar’s songs, Sen had soon graduated to carve a niche for himself. “From Jim Reeves, he picked up the tonal quality .From Nat King Cole, it was the drama that appealed to him.He punched the two style to create an international tone.He even learnt ghazal during his stint in Mumbai,” Banerjee said. Going back in time, he recalled how Sen had made him listen to Jim Reeves’ `I hear the sound of distant drums’ and `Snow Flakes’.”The first song inspired me to compose `Saradin tomae bhebe’. The first line of `Snow Flakes’ song inspired me to compose `E jeno shei chokh’. Nat King Cole’s `Mona Lisa’ helped us to create our own `Monalisa’ in a different form,” he recalled.

Few know that Sen was a good composer too. Sen had composed for an international film called `Midnight’ that had Geeta Dutta, Mohammad Rafi and himself singing in the soundtrack. It was an endearing relationship that Nirmala Mishra shared with him.”One day , I was speaking to him in a certain tone and he told me: `You are talking like a pishima!’ That’s how I got my name `pishima’. In return, I said that I should have the liberty of calling him `pishemoshai’,” Mishra said.

Sabita Chowdhury , wife of music director Salil Chowdhury , said, “Subir-da was very close to our family . My husband used to like his style of singing. He specially composed `Dhoronir pothe pothe’ and `Pagol hawa’ for him.” On being asked the similarity between Sen and Hemant Kumar, Chowdhury said, “His voice has a softness to it and a texture that was different from that of Hemanta-da.”

Singer Banasree Sengupta was impressed with Sen’s acting skills too. “I remember going to watch him film `Momer Putul’ where he had acted opposite Sabitri Chatterjee,” she pointed out, adding, “Composer Sudhin Dasgupta and he were friends. I was a favourite student of Sudhin Dasgupta.When Subir Sen came over to discuss Puja songs with my guru. I would also tag along to be a part of those musical sessions. I regret my luck that I could never sing a duet with him,” she said.

While in Bollywood, Shankar Jaikishan seemed to have kar Jaikishan seemed to have a special liking for Sen. The composer duo account for Sen most well-known songs. “Who can forget his `Manzil wohi hai’ from `Kathputli’?” Sengupta wondered aloud. No one is sure why Sen returned to Kolkata despite a successful stint in Mumbai. Mishra claimed that it was because of “internal politics that prevented his rise in Mumbai”.

But Sen never cribbed publicly and was happy to be singing in Bengali. “He deserved much more recognition than what he got. While remakes are common at reality shows these days, nobody dares to sing his songs,” Sengupta said. The reason, Banerjee pointed out, is his “international sound”. In unison, music industry believe that there will never be another Subir Sen who has so much of `sur’ and `gaan’ in him.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / Priyanka Dasgupta, TNN / December 30th, 2015


(From left) Friso Maecker, director of the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, German vice-consul in Calcutta Angela Grossmann and German consul general Olaf Iversen at an exhibition as part of the German fest, organised by Modern High School for Girls. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya
(From left) Friso Maecker, director of the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, German vice-consul in Calcutta Angela Grossmann and German consul general Olaf Iversen at an exhibition as part of the German fest, organised by Modern High School for Girls. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya

Herzlich willkommen (Hearty welcome)

Mit Liebe aus Deutschland (With love from Germany)

These were some of the phrases that could be heard at Treffpunkt (meeting point) – a German fest organised by Modern High School for Girls recently.

The fest had quiz shows, skits, talent-hunt and an exhibition – events that are part of any fest – but one needed to be specially trained to understand what was being said. Because the spoken language was German.

Modern High had invited nine other city schools, which offer German as a second or third language, and a school each from Nepal and Bangladesh to be part of the festival.

It was a celebration of a language that is still not common in city schools though several schools offer German, French and Mandarin as second or third language.

Modern High started offering German as a foreign language in 2011. The same year, the school hosted the first German inter-school fest and “provided a platform for students learning German to come together and explore the language”.

“I am honoured to be at a meeting of students who have chosen German voluntarily as an additional language to learn,” German consul-general Olaf Iversen said. “More people speaking German will also help create a bond between our two countries. By learning a foreign language you automatically learn about the culture of the country from where the language comes.”

In one of the events, Licht, Kamera, Aktion! (Lights, Camera, Action!), students had to prepare a skit after being told about a person, a situation and a product.

Delhi Public School New Town got Beethoven as the person and students had to sell “popcorn” at cinemas. A couple of students would sell popcorn when “Beethoven comes and tell them that he ate jelly candy, and that’s what made him so popular”.

“All the children thought if candy made him so famous they, too, would have it,” said DPS Class VI student Yuvika Dwivedi.

The first Treffpunkt had four PaSch schools (Partner Schools of Goethe Institut) of Calcutta.

“The students are excited about the fest because they can apply the language outside their curriculum,” Anita Mitra, education cooperation officer of Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, said. “They make posters and jingles based on real life experiences… it makes them feel part of something that is unique.”

The excitement was palpable as students rehearsed and conversed with each other in German.

Modern High director Devi Kar said: “We find a population in school comfortable in German.”

The school’s German club meets every Monday to watch German films and discuss their songs and culture to help improve students’ vocabulary.

The school believes in celebrating the language in totality and not just by tucking in a German song or dance in the annual programme. “Students try to use German as a natural language… using extensively what they learn in class,” Modern High principal Damayanti Mukherjee said.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / by Jhinuk Mazumdar / Thursday – December 31st, 2015