05 April 2014

The Genius of Tagore: Purano shei diner kotha

It is definitely not the new year time. Yet, somehow I found myself looking at a page describing the Auld Lang Syne,which is typically played at New Year, and how it has become a part of the World Culture. It came as a surprise to me that Rabindranath Tagore had made a Bengali adaptation of the Scottish song. I checked out "Purano shei diner kotha" on You Tube and its English translation, although the Bengali in the song is fairly easy to follow. I was sceptical of such an effort initially. However, on listening repeatedly to the rendition by such greats as Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar, and then re-reading the English translation, I realised it was truly a monumental effort. It captures the essence of the nostalgia of Auld Lang Syne. At the same time it also reproduces the hope that is inherent in it. That is quite difficult to achieve. Two contrasting emotions, nostalgia and hope but not melancholy, and making it into a sweet melody. No mean task this!
Was it the universal nature of the emotions associated with the song that it was possible to make a Bengali rendition as amazing as the Scottish one? Looking at other examples; 'The Internationale' (French: L' Internationale) which is considered as the rousing cry of workers the world over, is extremely stale and "notoriously difficult to sing" in any of its English or American renditions. Not so with 'Auld Lang Syne' in at least its Bengali rendition. So I have to come to the conclusion that it was truly the genius of Rabindranath that "Purano shei diner kotha" is one of the most widely known anthems in a language as rich as Bengali, and all the while being true to the original Scottish. It is indeed a victory for "World Culture" and a showcase of the genius of Gurudev. And it does take away some of the depression, at least in my case it did!
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