Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Bangla music against violence

Happenings, Jul '14
Drake Fort reports on the launch of a Bengali music video that talks about the violence faced by queer people

Team Bindubot at the music video shooting site
Photo credit: Bindubot
Kolkata, July 6, 2014: A large part of the struggle of Indian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people has found its voice mainly in English. However, the non-English speaking queer populace is also now speaking louder, fuelled by the many legal developments around Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and transgender rights and identities. This is also reflected in the birth and growth of queer support groups all over India beyond the metro cities, as also in the start of Hindi publications like Gaylaxy Hindi (see A Rainbow in Hindi in the February 2014 issue of Varta). And now comes along a music video in Bengali that talks about the violence faced by queer people day in and day out. Lending support to the effort are Bengali musical stalwarts like Srikanto Acharya, Susmit Bose and Pratul Mukhopadhyay.

Bindubot, a Kolkata-based film production house that aims to create a space for marginalized people in popular culture, has come out with a Bengali music video Koto Andhar Ghore Baire (Darkness Within and Outside), which is currently on air on TV channels Tara Music, Orange TV and U Bangla. Scripted and sung by Bipuljit Basu, who is also the founder of Bindubot, the video is inspired by the tragic death of Subir, a trans woman from a village near Arambagh town in Hooghly district of West Bengal (see inset). Bipuljit Basu came to know about the incident from queer activists in Kolkata and it made him wonder why innocent love has to be a victim to mindless bloodshed.

Speaking about his association with the video, well-known Bengali singer Srikanto Acharya says, “I am very happy to support the initiative . . . the struggle of marginalized people should definitely be seen more in art, and if we still have any humanity or empathy in our hearts, we need to feel and understand their emotions and their feelings better . . . the world is not reserved for the so called ‘normal’ people only but it is a place for everybody.” Truly inspiring words from an inspiring person indeed!

Bipuljit Basu (standing) in conversation with Srikanto Acharya
Photo credit: Bindubot

Musician Susmit Bose’s songs often deal with human rights, global peace and non-violence. He did not hear the term ‘LGBT’ in his younger days, but believes, “Each individual’s struggle will bring strength to the collective movement and each individual should work towards the same goal.”

Bipuljit Basu with Susmit Bose (left). Photo credit: Bindubot

Pratul Mukhopadhyay, a popular singer in West Bengal and Bangladesh, says, “Classical songs were mainly reserved for the fortunate and well-off . . . shastriyo gaan means shashon korar gaan (songs to control people). But the songs of the working class, though without rhythm, provided comfort to the workers and relieved stress in mind and body. They were sung locally and not for the kings and hence weren’t widespread. Similarly, the songs for the marginalised, being taboo, were also not widespread.

Pratul Mukhopadhyay. Photo credit: Bindubot
“Nowadays the king is the market, which is controlled by corporations. It’s as if people’s tastes are shaped by these corporations as well. The songs of the marginalised are still hidden from widespread recognition. For their songs to be heard, the singers need to compromise with the market. Also, the marginalised themselves have a different voice and hence they need to have their voices heard through new ideas in the market. Then their voices will truly be loud enough to be heard.”

While there have been other Bengali audio-visual musical efforts to talk about queer issues in the past, Koto Andhar Ghore Baire is the first crowd-funded Bengali music video on queer issues. The song was initially recorded in January 2014, soon after the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, but its circulation was limited to the social media. Team Bindubot later collaborated with Studio 360 Degree Production to make a full fledged music video based on the song. A teaser to the video can be seen here.

Drake Fort is an engineering student trying to pack in Pokemon training, gadgets, activism, love for nature, parkour and more in 24 hours!


  1. Video starring Celina Jaitly has over a million hits


    A Bollywood-style music video on gay rights featuring Indian actress Celina Jaitly has got over one million views online and become one of the United Nations’ most watched videos ever.

    The video was launched by the U.N. in April as part of a global fight against homophobia.

    Charles Radcliff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) tweeted on Tuesday that the video had become one of the “U.N.’s most watched ever”.

    Ms. Jaitly expressed her gratitude on Twitter saying the video has crossed one million views on YouTube.

    The two-and-a-half-minute clip was part of the U.N.’s ‘Free and Equal’ campaign championing equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people and an end to homophobia.

    Ms. Jaitly, who made her musical debut in the clip, was last year nominated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights as a U.N. Equality Champion in recognition of her support for LGBT rights.

    Ms. Jaitly had expressed the hope that the video would spread the broader message of the need to change not just laws but also attitudes and to challenge stereotypes about the LGBT community in light of the threats and discrimination the community faced in India and across the world.

    The video, titled ‘The Welcome’, is about a young man who brings his boyfriend home to meet his family for the first time.

    Ms. Jaitly, a mother of two-year old twins, has said that she has received threats for supporting gays and lesbians but will continue to work towards achieving equality for the community.

    In a message during the launch of the video, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had applauded India’s human rights activists and film fraternity for standing up for the rights of lesbians and gays as he called for the immediate repeal of all laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships.

    Mr. Ban said he hoped the video would carry a message of equality to millions of people.

    He had expressed his support for the campaign and his solidarity with India’s LGBT community, reaffirming his staunch advocacy to end prejudice and intolerance against LGBT persons.

    Keywords: LGBT rights, homosexuality, gay rights, Celina Jaitly

    Sathish Kumar

  2. Here the full video link for KOTO ANDHAR GHORE BAIRE...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJP20QBVCp0&feature=youtube_gdata_player