Tagore’s Krushnakali in a ringing flowing voice

rabindranath-tagores-poem-krushnakali

Till the other day, though the calendar indicated onset of Ashadh, the clouds showed an anticipating Jyeshtha, and now when Ashadh, at times content with spells of occasional showers, assumes the character of Shravan, it seems the perfect time to receive from Somdatta Chakraborty (US) an audio-visual link to Krishnakali Ami Tarei Boli, a dainty gem of a song Rabindranath Tagore has written and she has sung in his own composition.

Listen carefully the 4th stanza to get into the mood of the early monsoon. In that mood, identify the images of the dark colour as well – of the pretty girl Krishnakali indistinguishable from that of the flower of this name, of her long hair, of her eyes and of the clouds with the day taking on their hues, and of the cows that are part of her life. She is one with the universe. How can the village alienate her from other elements of nature and critically look at her and her colour? She is aware of the unwelcome gaze. The permeating delight of existence, however, ripples her heart and her being. And well, she receives attention from someone who has seen ‘her dark gazelle-eyes’. Here is the link for its English version: Krishnakali.

Like the heart beats of the Nayika, the girl with a dark complexion feeling solitary in the midst of bustling village folks, the piano notes have the song take off, lift the listeners and carry them away from the mundane world, accompany it all through. Her world within is rich with ripples in her heart of feelings and longing so natural at her age. Her solitariness and longing find an enchanting expression in the flow of Somdatta’s evocative voice seeking oneness with the poet’s words.

Conceptually, the images of the ‘dark girl’ with gazelle eyes and her world remain distant though clear. This lends formlessness to her beauty. They do not have the grossness of proximity and multiplicity. They emerge symbolic – like the window-like opening in her hut. Her wanderings at times seem on wings of imagination. The camera well enough follows the concept and yet leaves scope for greater lyricism.

Somdatta’s vocal rendering is close to the poet’s sensitive and empathetic portrayal of the lively gazelle-eyed girl, by name and metaphorically a Krushnakali in the bud. The ringing expressive voice with its flow, the soft piano notes, the flitting images of the solitary girl, glimpses of her eyes in subdued expression, the sensual tinge of her black hair, the inviting distant mountain range and the dark clouds seeking a union with the earth, remain etched in memory.

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