Srikanto Acharya Delights Bengalis in Sydney with his Golden Voice
In the last two decades, there has been considerable increase in the size of the Bengali community in Sydney by virtue of which, the community organisations came forward and staged gala musical evenings with artists from the sub continent.
As a result, the lovers of Bengali music saw legends such as Manna Dey, Sandhya Mukherjee, Arati Mukherjee, Suchitra Mitra, Feroza Begum, Dwijen Mukherjee and others performing in Sydney. However these talented stars from the world of Bengali music came to Sydney at a time, when they have already crossed over the peak period of their singing life.
After listening to these top artists, the audience in majority had their desires fulfilled. However the definition of desire in this case is wide and varied .To some it was just to see and listen to the star singing their favourite type of songs and go down the memory lane with familiar songs that they grew up with. For many it was to pay respect to the artists glorious past and for others it was just to attend a musical evening of Bengali songs. On the flip side, there were many with comments such as the artist has lost his/her golden voice or only sings one type of songs eg Rabindrasangeet or did not hear anything new or did not sing too may songs or did not have musicians with latest technology instruments. This simply suggests how difficult it is to satisfy everyone.
However the Bengali Association of New South Wales in Sydney took up the challenge of satisfying all, by staging a musical evening with Srikanto Acharya the most versatile singer of todays time, cruising at the top of fame and glory. He primarily sings Rabindrasangeet and contemporary Bangla songs reflecting the ethos of his times as well steeped in the rich musical heritage of the past. There is little doubt in anybodys mind to recognise him as the current torch bearer of Bengali songs.
He has a god-gifted voice that shows his brilliance in all type of songs that he sings. It is probably true that he found his spot in the hearts of Bengali music lovers by singing remake songs which is the category of immortal Bengali songs from the past that had the unique blend of lyric, rhythm and melody. However his Rabindrasangeet is also equally appealing. Since release of his first album in 1996, today he has also established his position by singing new songs written and tuned by people from todays generation. His solo albums in the recent past, which received wide appreciation and recognition in Kolkata and abroad, has fetched him top singing awards.
Hence by inviting Srikanto Acharya, Bengali Association presented a singer who sings with repute all types of songs old and new, Rabindrasangeet and folk, Bengali and Hindi with a band of musicians that play modern instruments such as octopad, thumba and keyboard in addition to the traditional tabla, harmonium and guitar. The idea behind was to cater for every taste and present a musical evening that would impress and satisfy the entire audience.
The function was performed in front of a packed audience of over 800 music lovers at the Science Theatre of University of New South Wales on the 17 April 2005 to mark the happy occasion of Shubho Nabobarsha.
Srikanto demonstrated his highly talented singing capability by singing for more than three hours in two parts. He started brilliantly with a Rabindrasangeet Amar Ei Path Chaoatei Anando and finished with a very popular old hit from the film Teen Bhubaner Paree. In between he maintained the variety by singing several Rabindrasangeet and modern songs both remake and new ones. That included Rabindrasangeet such as Ebar Abogunthano Kholo, Tumi Kon Kanoner Phul, old hits such as Moner Janala, Bodhua Amar Chokhe Jol Eneche, new songs such as Brishti Tomake Dilam, Keu Boleche, folk song from Purulia and few Hindi sons that remind the golden voices of Mukesh and Manna Dey. He kept the audience entertained and involved with appropriate remarks, stories and jokes. Thundering applause at the end of every song showed how well they enjoyed the program. Sumit Kumar Poddar in tabla, Uttam Mukherjee in keyboard, Subrata Banerjee in guitar and Soumen Das in octopad accompanied Srikanto as master musicians.
Despite presentation of a variety of songs for over three hours, the audience demand at the end was for more. This demand was categorised based on individual taste and liking. The audience comprised of mixed generations. Bengalis who left their homeland perhaps three decades ago and have their mind freezed with golden memories of the past wanted more of Purono Diner Gaan - the old hits with which they grew up. Rabindrasangeet lovers wanted more of that. The generation of today, who are familiar with the current trend expressed their interest for the newer type of songs that symbolise todays world in terms of social behaviour and trends in the world of modern music. I am sure there were some who would have preferred a few more Hindi songs.
So for an artist, it is difficult to meet the expectations of everyone. I believe Srikanto presented a wonderful and balanced package of a variety of songs to cater for the taste of all. By singing his new songs, he introduced to the audience the current trend in the world of Bengali music, which is gaining huge popularity in Bengal. That familiarisation is essential, particularly for Bengalis abroad, to bridge the cultural time gap between the glories of the past and the shines of the future.