| Introduction || Collecting || Baul songs || Elephants || Kali in England || NE India |

| Bengal & Assam || Mass Songs || Songs I Sing || More Songs || Buy CDs || Links |


Notes from the CD

Kali Dasgupta is among the greatest singers and collectors of the folksongs of Eastern and North-eastern India. He was actively involved in politics during the independence movement and up to 1965. His interest in folk music grew out of his involvement with the working classes.

The first five ballads on this CD were recorded in 2004 by Parthasarathi Chatterjee. Niranjan Halder accompanies him on the sarinder. The fifth ballad, 'Airirey' was recorded during a live performance at the Singers' Club, London in 1985.

The mass/political songs presented here were recorded in an interview with Charles Parker at the BBC studio, Birmingham in 1970.

Lokosaraswati thanks Charles Parker and Parthasarathi Chatterjee for making this project possible.

The Songs


Hatay gamcha (Kissa song, Jalpaiguri: coll. Jogen Roy, renowned sarinder player) There are many variants of this Konya harana' song in different parts of the region.
Mohipal, the king who ruled the area in the seventeenth century, came to the river and abducted a young nubile girl who had gone there with her oil and towel to take a bath. The song is the girl's lament.


Lal Chand (Goalpara: collected by Nihar Barua from Dinamoni Maijhani in 1920) Lal Chand, a dacoit, has been caught by the police who overheard him playing his dotara. His lover, Lilaboti, is crying for him. He had paid no heed to her repeated warnings not to rob people. Despite her undying love he was not satisfied and now there is no hope of his returning. Of what use will the money be now?


Nava ranga keotan (a song sung for the rituals of 'charak puja', Goalpara) A king falls in love with a young girl of the fishing community and wishes to take her away. She replies that if his love is so great he should give up his kingdom and come to her. However, he will not be allowed to fish in these waters and should cast his net elsewhere.


Maghoi maser otoi no tarike (Goalpara: coll. from singer, Alimuddin) Abdulla, a villager, was killed by a snake. Someone found the snake coiled around sixteen bamboos which held the bitten Abdulla aloft. When his mother received the news she was so upset that she sent her daughter-in-law to the spot. Abdullah's wife prayed to the snake to release her husband. It did so and the wife carried away the dead body but her sorrow was unendurable so she lay down to die beside him.


Shoudamoni (Goalpara: coll. Nihar Barua from Dinamoni Maijhani, 1920) Shoudamoni was in prison accused of killing her husband but the jailer was overwhelmed by her song and released her. Later it was learnt that she had been wrongly implicated in the crime. Her in-laws were responsible.


Airirey (Goalpara, woman's song) The rural people lived in harmony with Nature. They hunted only to sustain themselves and had a great affinity for animals. Kalida collected many songs which reveal this sympathy.
This ballad begins by wishing the hunter success but then the mother deer speaks. She pleads with the hunter, saying that she does him no harm, she only grazes peacefully. Perhaps the hunter is having a good day but she can give no milk to her kid.


Ab kamar bandh tayyar hoja (to the tune of La Marseillaise, composed by Harm Chattopadhhay) During the struggle for Independence many songs were written and others adapted.
"Get ready, tighten your belts. 100,000 are staring at death, not afraid to face it. Raise the banner for independence!"


lska da tandoor (Punjab: coil. Surinder Kaur) During British rule many Punjabi men fought on behalf of Britain. But they felt no commitment to the country they were fighting for and their wives did not even have the consolation that their husbands were fighting for their motherland.
A wife is making chapattis. "My love is like a burning oven; my bones are the fuel; I take out my heart to prepare the dough. O my husband when will you return?"


Bosora'r Poslo Aapis (Chittagong: coil. Hemango Biswas) During World War 1 a Bengali regiment was serving in Basra (Iraq), fighting on behalf of the British. A woman asks if the Post Office in Basra has been destroyed. She has written repeatedly to her soldier husband but has received no reply and cannot comfort her children and in-laws.


Dhaka'r daak (composed by Hemango Biswas) In 1943, at the All India Peasant Conference in Netrokona, Mymensingh, East Bengal, two Sufi village poets offered to sing. To everyone's surprise they sang, not a spiritual song, but a song describing their sufferings in the 1942 famine. They continued to extemporize for about 40 minutes: "There is endless sorrow for me but no one to whom I can complain; whatever hope I had has been shattered by the black market. 0 brother, do you remember how mothers who could not breastfeed their babies were selling them." Hemangoda was haunted by the memory of that song, which he hadn't been able to write down. Nine years later he wrote a song in a similar ballad style about the language movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) when Bengalis protested at the imposition of Urdu as the national language. The protesters were dealt with mercilessly and many students died.


Nov'me pataka naachat hal (Harm Chattopadhhay) The song praises the flag dancing in the breeze. With this flag the struggle has started.


Mehnat karsh (anon) A marching song of the workers written in a mixture of Hindi and Urdu.


Janga hai Jangay aazadee (composed by Mukhdum Mohiudin of Andra Pradesh in Urdu) "In the war of liberation we are not alone. There are no nations or nationalities."


Mountbettonsaheb 0 (Hemango Biswas) Many satirical songs were written in folk idiom during the Independence movement:
Congressman: "O Mr. Mountbatten, you will not miss anything. Those with whom you have entrusted your baton will look after your imperial interests much better than you do."
Mountbatten: "You do not know what a unique thing we are giving you. There is no other example of the peaceful transition of power."
Congressman: "But we are not happy because the condition of South East Asia is such (it was the time of the Chinese Revolution) we feel that our soul is out of our body."
Mountbatten: "Don't worry about that. We are right here and above us all Big Brother America is there. You'll be all right."

| Introduction || Collecting || Baul songs || Elephants || Kali in England || NE India |

| Bengal & Assam || Mass Songs || Songs I Sing || More Songs || Buy CDs || Links |