Kabir Suman

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Kabir Suman
কবীর সুমন
Birth name Suman Chattopadhyay
Born (1950-03-16) 16 March 1950 (age 64) [1]
Cuttack, Odisha, India
Origin Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Genres Bengali Modern, Rabindra Sangeet
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter,
journalist, writer, actor, politician
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1992–present
Labels HMV
Associated acts Anjan Dutt, Nachiketa Chakraborty
Website Official Website
Kabir Suman's channel on YouTube
Kabir Suman
Member of Parliament
In office
May 2009- May 2014
Preceded by Sujan Chakraborty
Succeeded by Sugata Bose
Constituency Jadavpur
Personal details
Political party Trinamool Congress
Spouse(s) Sabina Yasmin
Alma mater Jadavpur University
Profession Musician, Journalist, Writer
Religion Islam

Kabir Suman (Bengali: কবীর সুমন, née Suman Chattopadhyay; born 16 March 1950) is a Kolkata-based modern Bengali singer-songwriter, musician, music director, poet, journalist, political activist, TV presenter, and occasional actor.[1] Suman's music of love, anger, protest, hope changed Bengali song forever.[2] From May 2009 to 2014, he was a member of parliament of India in the 15th Lok Sabha, having been elected from the Jadavpur constituency in Kolkata on an All India Trinamool Congress ticket.[1]

He changed his name from Suman Chattopadhyay to Kabir Suman to get rid of Bengali Brahmin identity when Hindu religious fanatics burned Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two teenage sons to death in Orissa in 1999.[3] He shot to fame in the 1990s with albums such as Tomake Chai (I Want You) and Boshe Anko (Sit-and-Draw).[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Suman was born in a Bengali Hindu Brahmin family on 16 March 1949 to Sudhindranath and Uma Chattopadhyay at Cuttack, Odisha. He later converted to Bengali Muslim.[1] He was trained in classical music in his childhood, under the tutelage of this father. He graduated with an honours in English Literature from Jadavpur University[1] and did a diploma in French language and German language.[4] He then worked briefly in All India Radio and the United Bank of India. Suman left for Guetamela and worked there in radio latter for Europe in the mid seventies, and worked as a radio journalist in the Voice of Germany (Bengali Department) during 1975 to 1979.[5][6] It is during this period that he heard the music of Bob Dylan in France, which became one of his most defining musical experiences.[citation needed]

Suman then went on to stay at the United States during 1980 to 1986, working for the Bengali language Department of the Voice of America at Washington D.C. He came into contact with a number of musical and literary personalities including Pete Seeger and Maya Angelou. Suman also became highly interested in the Sandinista revolution at Nicaragua during the mid eighties. Pete Seeger introduced him to Ernesto Cardenal, the priest, poet, freedom fighter and Nicaragua's Minister of Culture. At Cardenal's invitation, Suman visited Nicaragua in 1985. He writes that he was largely impressed by what he saw in Nicaragua. It is here, that he also came into contact with the New Song Movement in Latin America.[7] After much deliberation, Suman zeroed in on the name, Kabir Suman. According to him, "I wanted to keep the name my parents gave me, so I kept Suman. I took the name Kabir after Sheikh Kabir, a Bengali Muslim poet who wrote Baishnab Padabali." [8]

Political activities[edit]

Along with his musical contributions, Suman has always held strong political views. He was a journalist in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution and wrote Mukto Nicaragua (Liberated Nicaragua) on his experiences. During the 2002 Gujarat riots, he composed songs in protest against fundamentalism. He is also noted for his strong declamations against political opponents in public.

Since 2006, when Suman was involved in the land struggle in Nandigram, he started aliging himself to All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Mamata Banerjee. His songs on the Nandigram land issues have been released on two albums, Nandigram and Pratirodh. Suman also participated in the Singur agitation & other TMC party programmes on a regular basis.[9][10] He was present during the inauguration of TMC's stall in Kolkata Book Fair in 2009.[11]

The Trinamoool Congress nominated him for the 2009 general election from Jadavpur constituency in Kolkata, West Bengal, and won the election, defeating his nearest rival, Sujan Chakraborty of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) by 54,000 votes (by a 10% margin).[12]

In November 2009, Suman had a spat with the Trinamool Congress. He complained that the local leaders of the party were not allowing him to work, and his views were not taken seriously in the party.[13] However, the issue was resolved amicably in a series of closed door meetings.[14]

Suman has also been vocal in his support for the movement of tribals in Lalgarh, and has composed an album called Chatradharer Gaan in support of the mass movement, going against the wishes of the party.[15] Going against the party position, he has also expressed his protests against "Operation Green Hunt", the Indian Government's military operation where the Naxalites have some influence.[16]

Suman, in the end of March 2010, claimed that he is going to leave Trinamool Congress and also his membership of the Parliament. On the request of Mahasweta Devi he postponed his resignation for seven days.[17] Within a few days, however, he made a u-turn and declared on 7 April that he does not want to resign[18] by further embarrassing the party.[8]

Currently he conveys his political opinions through his own website.

Personal life[edit]

As of 2007 Suman has been married five times.[19] Suman considers himself agnostic, nihilist-anarchist and a "polygamous" person.[19] He is married to Sabina Yasmin, a Bangladeshi singer.[1][20]

Musical life[edit]

His contemporary urban, socially conscious songs draw upon both Bengali adhunik (modern) and Western folk and protest music. His work has been a major influence in the development of the Bengali songs, which has influenced bands like Chandrabindoo, and has grown to become a major movement in contemporary Bengali music. Most of his songs are played solo with just a Piano,synthesiser or a guitar. Like many other Bengali singers, Suman has also recorded albums of Rabindra Sangeet (Songs of Rabindranath Tagore), starting in the late-1990s.

Suman's primary training was in Indian classical music and Rabindra Sangeet, and he picked up Western folk forms while living abroad in Germany and the United States. He finished his second contract with German International Radio in 1989, and returned to Kolkata. In Kolkata,he was first associated with a band called Nagorik, and released two albums Onyo kotha onyo gaan 1 and Onyo kotha onyo gaan 2. He released his first solo album, Tomake Chai, on 23 April 1992, which was immensely successful as it redefined Bengali songs. "Tomake Chai" presumably indicates love for Bengali language. More properly it is the intrinsic love of a person for his mother-tongue. Since then he has released over twenties albums, his most recent one being Lalmohaner Laash in 2010. Later Suman stopped making songs for general audience and focused on more political issues.[21] Currently he make songs and upload in his own website, which are mostly political. He has received the best music director award for the movie Jaatishwar at the prestigious 61st National Film Awards,2014.

Discography[edit]

Solo albums with track lists:

Tomake Chai (1992) – HMV[edit]

  • Tomake Chai
  • Petkati Chnadiyal
  • Tui Heshe Uthlei
  • Kakhono Somay Ashe
  • Jodi Bhabo Kinchho Amay
  • Haal Chherona Bondhu
  • Tin Taler Gaan
  • Chena Dukkho Chena Sukh
  • Mon Kharap Kora Bikel
  • Pagol
  • Dosh Foot by Dosh Foot
  • Amader Jonno

Boshe Aanko (1993) – HMV[edit]

  • Surjo Bollo Ish
  • Ek Muhurte Phiriye Dile
  • Shokal Belar Roddur
  • Hothat Raste
  • Rekhaber Roop
  • Meghdoot

Ichchhe Holo (1993) – HMV[edit]

  • Banshuriya
  • Ichchhe Holo
  • Jage Jage Raat
  • Boyesh Amar Mukher Rekhay
  • Tini Briddha Holen
  • Danpite
  • Tomar Tulona
  • Magoje Curfew
  • Majh Rattire Chnader Kaste
  • Nabab Nababi Kore
  • Uttoro to Jana
  • Protidin Surjyo Othe
  • Arun Mitra
  • Agun Dekhechhi Ami

Gaanola / Suman the One Man Band (1994) – HMV / EMI[edit]

  • Tomake Bhababoi
  • Gaanola
  • Abhibadan / Priyotama
  • Abchhayatai Lagchhe Bhalo
  • Prothom Shobkichhu
  • Shararat Jolechhe Nibir
  • Bibhuti Bhusan
  • Jato Dure
  • Nodir Galpo
  • Tomar Sange Eka
  • Robbar
  • Brigade-e Meeting
  • Tomar Kothar Rang
  • Cactus
  • Gaan Tumi Hao

Ghumou Baundule (1995) – HMV[edit]

  • Tomake Dekhechhi
  • Parar Chhotto Park
  • Themey Jete Jete
  • Bedcoverer Prante
  • Ghumao Baundule
  • Jhograr Gaan
  • Papri Dey
  • Bhagoban Kato Bhalo
  • Gachher Tolay
  • Stabdhotar Gaan
  • Ichchhe Kore
  • Pakhita
  • Sanjib Purohit Haatlen

Chaichhi Tomar Bondhuta (1996) – HMV[edit]

  • Amar Mato Kalo
  • Amar Premer Gaan
  • Byangoma
  • Chaichhi Tomar Bondhuta
  • Ekla Hote Chaichhe Akash
  • Ektur Jonyo
  • Ekushe February
  • Hirer Angti
  • How is That
  • Knadte De
  • Roddurer Gaan
  • Sabdhan
  • Sahoshilpira Esho
  • Sesh Picasso
  • Thomke Achhe

Jatishwar (1997) – HMV[edit]

  • Ami Chai
  • Biday Porichita
  • Buker Bhetor
  • Char Line
  • Helicopter
  • Janalar Knache
  • Jatishwar
  • Nayantara
  • Notay
  • Sahore Brishti
  • Sotyi Howk
  • Tumi Ashbe Bole

Nishiddho Istehar (1998) – HMV[edit]

  • Bidroho
  • Chil
  • Jake Bhalobashi
  • Jomi
  • Jua
  • Kangalpona
  • Kobi
  • Kobiyal
  • Meyeta
  • Nishiddho Istehar
  • Niyom Nei
  • Prothom Ma
  • Sukumar Ray
  • Surhid

Pagla Shanai (1999) – HMV[edit]

  • Bhalobasha
  • Bicholito
  • Boka Meye
  • Dhaka
  • Etai Ekhon Kaaj
  • Graham Stuart Stein
  • Hands Up
  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Kather Pa
  • Nastho Somay
  • Pagla Shanai
  • Prostuti
  • Uthal Pathal

Jabo Ochenaye (2001) – HMV[edit]

  • Amar Chhuti
  • Britha Chhuti
  • Chilka
  • Darjeelinger Gaan
  • Ei Bhabe
  • Ekla Hole
  • Hartal
  • Hothat Chhuti
  • Jabo Ochenaye
  • Murgir Chhuti
  • Oi Pare Chhuti
  • Radhanather Chhuti
  • Tomakei Dorkar
  • Tumi Bollei
  • Tumi to Cholle

Aadab (2002) – HMV[edit]

  • Aadab
  • Ayan Rashid
  • Birodhi
  • Daay
  • Dilshad
  • Ekta Thalay
  • Kakhon Tomar
  • Kar Desh
  • Mithyebadi
  • Shikarir Khnoje
  • Sonkhaloghur Dol-e
  • Tao ki Hoy

Reaching Out (2003) – Kosmic Music[edit]

  • Wish You Were Here
  • For You Calcutta
  • Prisoner
  • Information Blues
  • God Don't Bless
  • The Wind
  • Silently
  • Cross the Line
  • The Dusk
  • A Holy Bomb

Dekhchhi Toke (2004) – Cozmik Harmony[edit]

  • Dekhchhi Toke
  • Bhab / Karnish-e Duto Payra
  • Hatchhara Hoye Jawa Train
  • Kar Naam Kanchan
  • Nachte Chaichho Bujhi
  • Ekdhoroner Bidroho Holo Gaan
  • Hujur, Banda Hajir
  • Tumi Chhile Hafijer

Nandigram (2007) – Cozmik Harmony[edit]

  • Swarnolanka Pora
  • Shabash Police
  • Ekjot Hao Bondhu
  • Mahashweta
  • Nandigram (Vocal)
  • Tata-r Gari (Recitation)
  • Digbijoyer Gaan
  • Nandigramer Por
  • Bishuddhota
  • Shishu-r Dhor (Recitation)
  • Nadigram

Rizwanur Brityo (2008) – Artist himself[edit]

  • Aborodh (Khun Howa Gaan)
  • Ami Jai
  • Bhalo Meyera
  • Bhulo Na Athoba Bhule Jao
  • Hoye Jabe Byabostha
  • Ki ar Emon
  • Rizwanurer Gaan

Protirodh (2008) – Cozmik Harmony[edit]

  • Ajay Bagdi
  • Baamjawr
  • Esho Prem
  • Janan Dichchhe
  • Karl Marx
  • Mamata Achhe
  • Nishaner Naam
  • Protirodh

Chhotrodhorer Gaan (2010) – Artist himself and later by Bijalpa Music[edit]

  • Agey Vote Din
  • Amar Premer Gaan
  • Bonduk Nile Hate
  • Chhotrodhorer Gaan
  • Dundubhi
  • Gna-e Bidroho
  • Jangol Tumi Kar?

Lalmohoner Lash (2010) – Questz World / Saptarshi Prakashan[edit]

  • Lalmohoner Lash
  • Apnake Niye
  • Meyer Madhyamik
  • Kon Sorkar
  • Bhule Achho Jara
  • Bondhu
  • Tirer Fola
  • Kabir Suman
  • Tomar Jonyo

Compilations and live recordings[edit]

  • Sumaner Gaan (1994) – HMV/EMI
  • Shawmokhkhe/Upfront- Live(1996) – Biswas Records
  • Baanshuriya (1998) – HMV
  • Suman Top 10 (1999) – HMV
  • Beesh Shawtoker Sheshe (2000) – HMV
  • Nagorik Kobiyaal (2001)
  • Hits of Suman Chattopadhyay (2001) – HMV
  • Gaanola Dhakay (2008) – CHIRKUT[16]/ Saptarshi
  • Gaanola (2008)- HMV (MP3 compilation)
  • Bidroher Gaan (2010) – USDF (VCD) (with Bidyut Bhowmik)

Collaborative albums[edit]

  • Onyo Katha Onyo Gaan Volumes I & II (1986) – Sing To Live [with Nagorik]
  • Nicaraguar Jonyo (1986) – Sing To Live [with Nagorik]
  • E Desh Tomaar Aamar (1991) – SFI / HMV
  • Konthe Nilaam Notun Gaan (1994) – Concord Music (with the Concord Trio)
  • Shobujer Protishodh (1995) – HMV (with Haimanti Shukla)
  • Choto Boro Mile (1996) – HMV [with Nachiketa Chakravarty, Anjan Dutt, Indrani Sen, Lopamudra Mitra, Payel Kar, Shalini Chatterjee, Sreetoma Ghosh, Shayari Das, Tanushree Haldar, Paromita Chatterjee, Reema Roy, Shubhanwita Guha and Reetomaa Gupto]
  • Notun Gaaner Nouka Bawa (1997) – Htorghore Brishti (1998) – HMV [with Lopamudra Mitra]
  • Shesh Dorjata Perole (1998) – HMV [with Sandhya Mukherjee]
  • Tomaye Khnujechi (1999) – Soundtech [with Sabina Yasmin]
  • Ochena Chuti / Gaane Gaane Duti Mon (1999) – Raagaa/Soundtech [with Sabina Yasmin]
  • Aashche Shotabdite (1999) – HMV [with Sandhya Mukherjee]
  • Ekshaathe Bnachboi (1999) – HMV [with Sohini, Shinjini, Debdutta, Shidhdhaartho, Anirban, Oindrila, Shreya, Shilpi, Arindam, Chiranjeeb, Rajshekhar, Shongeeta, Gaargi, Arundhati, Indrani, Shoilangi, Gargi, Aakaash and Payel]
  • Rongdhonu Taanaa Shetu (2000) – HMV [with Sandhya Mukherjee]
  • Shada Paayra Giyeche Ure (2001) – HMV [with Sandhya Mukherjee]
  • Tumi Gaan Gaile (2002) – Prime Music [with Indranil Sen]
  • Awshshomedher Ghora Chhutchche (2003) – HMV [with Sandhya Mukherjee]
  • Protichhobi (2004) – No Audio Release [with Sabina Yasmin and Bnaadhon]
  • Onekdin Por (2005) – Cozmic Harmony [with Anjan Dutt]
  • Tero (2006) – Cozmic Harmony [with Sabina Yasmin]

Live albums and collaborations[edit]

  • Onurodher Aashor (1994) – T-Series
  • Ei Shomoye Ei Dujon- Live at GD Birla Sabhaghar (1997) – HMV (with Nachiketa)
  • Tribeni (1997) – HMV [with Nachiketa Chakravarty and Anjan Dutt]
  • Notun Shurer Chnoa (1999) – HMV (with Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, Lopamudra Mitra, Haimanti Shukla and Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta)
  • Praan Khola Gaan (2003) – HMV (with Lopamudra Mitra, Nachiketa and Bhoomi)
  • Onyo Hawaye Onyo Gaan (2004) – HMV [with Lopamudra Mitra]
  • Pujor Shera Gaan (2004) – HMV [with Sandhya Mukhopadhyay]
  • Graphiti (2006) – HMV [with Nachiketa Chakravarty, Anjan Dutt, Lopamudra Mitra, Protul Mukherjee and Moushumi Bhowmick]
  • Onno gaaner bhorey (2009) – HMV (with Nachiketa)

Film albums[edit]

  • Obhimaane Onuraage (1992) [Unreleased] – [Playback Singers: Kabir Suman]
  • Attojaa (1993) – [No Audio Release][Playback Singers: Kabir Suman, Haimanti Shukla]
  • Mahasangram (1993) – HMV [Playback Singers: Kabir Suman, Indrani Sen]
  • Bhoye (1995) – [No Audio Release] [Playback Singer: Kabir Suman]
  • Krishnachura [Bilingual in Assamese (released) and Bengali (unreleased)] (1995) – HMV [Playback Singers: Kabir Suman, Haimanti Shukla]
  • Jodhdha (1996) – HMV [Playback Singer: Kabir Suman]
  • Shedin Choitromash (1997) – HMV [Playback Singers: Kabir Suman, Nachiketa Chakravarty, Swagatatalakhi Dasgupta and Lopamudra Mitra]Best song-AMI JE CHILAM BESH...
  • Shurjokanya (1997) – HMV [Playback Singers: Kabir Suman, Sriradha Banerjee, Swagatatalakhi Dasgupta and Srikanto Acharya]
  • Katha (2007) [No Audio Release]
  • Ranjana Ami Ar Asbo Na(2011)
  • Jaatishwar (2014)

Influences and legacy[edit]

Suman has often been credited with creating a new Genre of music in Bengal, which is deceptively simple, with lyrics that reflect common life experiences. He is sometimes referred to as the Nagorik Kobial (urban troubadour).[20][22] Some people consider his songs Jibonmukhi (songs facing life), though he doesn't like this title and consider his work as simply adhunik bangla gaan (modern Bengali song).[23]

His music reflects on social mores and is often directly political. Suman draws from a very long and deep tradition of Bengali music, absorbing multiple genres including pop, light classical, film music and folk. His influences traverses a literal who's who of the Bengali music pantheon. He was also influenced by Western musicians such as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon and John Lennon. He transcribed (with credits) Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" as "Uttoro to Jana" in his album Ichche Holo in 1993 and "Farewell, Angelina" (initially recorded by Joan Baez in 1965) as "Biday Porichita" in his 1997 album Jatiswar.[24] He also transcribed (with credits) Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence" as "Stobdhothar Gaan". He effortlessly combined Bengali meter with Western pop/country instrumentation.

His early albums were sparsely arranged, using primarily electronic keyboard, guitar and occasional mouth organ, all played by himself on multitrack recordings. The effect on the Bengali audience was not unlike what Bob Dylan produced on American audiences during the Beat Generation. Later albums were more elaborately arranged with full studio orchestra and often classical Hindustani accompaniment. His message was always authentic Indian/Bengali and fully contemporary. His use and command of the Bengali language and his impeccable diction will continue to influence generations of future musicians.

Suman influenced a generation of singer-songwriters in Bengal after 90s, including Nachiketa Chakraborty, Anjan Dutt, Lopamudra Mitra, Srikanto Acharya and bands like Chandrabindoo.

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Detailed Profile: Shri Kabir Suman". india.gov.in. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Lockard, Craig A. (1998). Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780824819187. 
  3. ^ "Politics and poetics". deccanherald.com. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Kabir Suman's Blog: Biodata". Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Cohen-Cruz, Jan (1998). Radical Street Performance: An International Anthology. Taylor & Francis Group. p. 103. ISBN 9780415152310. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ a b "‘I am a polygamous man. Maybe I’m still searching for love’:Kabir Suman". telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Mamata's peace talk: Nano work should resume". www.indianexpress.com. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  10. ^ "Mamata condemns Israel attack on Gaza Strip – Express India". www.expressindia.com. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  11. ^ [3][dead link]
  12. ^ Updated Election Results Details of Jadavpur @ indiaelections.co.in. Retrieved 11 December 2011
  13. ^ "Suman rattles party with quit threat". The Times of India. 18 November 2009. 
  14. ^ "Issues with party have been resolved: Kabir Suman – Thaindian News". Thaindian.com. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  15. ^ Goutam Gupta. "MP Kabir Suman Sings against Party's Wishes | বিষয় | Bangla". Voanews.com. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  16. ^ "Trinamool MP to stage dharna against ‘Operation Green Hunt'". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 20 February 2010. 
  17. ^ "Rebel Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman quits party". The Times of India. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Suman U-turn: Won't quit Trinamool, Lok Sabha". The Times of India. 8 April 2010. 
  19. ^ a b Suman, Kabir (2 September 2007). "I am a polygamous man. Maybe I’m still searching for love". Calcutta, India: www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  20. ^ a b Kabir Suman biodata @ kabirsuman.in. Retrieved 11 December 2011
  21. ^ I'm lusty old man looking for carnal pleasure: Kabir Suman timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 17 February 2013
  22. ^ "'Jaatishwar' has the potential to change perspectives: An Insight". tollywoodhamaka.com. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  23. ^ ‘JIBONMUKHI’? OH NO, NOT ME! @ Official site of Kabir Suman, posted on 29 April 2011, retrieved 11 December 2011
  24. ^ Kabir Suman solo concert on YouTube user account-onusondhan, retrieved 10 December 2011
  25. ^ http://www.gomolo.com/awards-won-by-kabir-suman/6552

External links[edit]