PRASANTA KUMAR DASH
Bhubaneswar, August 24:Orchestra, theatres and musical concerts in community festivals have now been fading away from society. In the era of smart gadgets and app-mediated home theatres, busy people prefer means of mobile entertainment while getting going on their ways of life.
Dada’s mobile orchestra on running trains across Odisha, is such an innovative instrument to entertain people while they are roaming here and there as a part and parcel of their day-to-day life. Dada’s kitty 'Orchestra Onboard' entertains commuters with vintage, forgotten but premiere songs from Western Odisha to West Bengal which also resonates with Paralakhemundi in the extreme south.
Abhi Kumar Ghosh, a West Bengal-based playback singer and stage performer, fondly called Dada for his origin, brings a new, redefined experience for train passengers by organising a mobile orchestra in the trains running across Odisha.
If you will be travelling from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand via Rourkela, Sohela, Bargargh, Jharsuguda, Balangir and Sambalpur for Bhubaneswar, Cuttack or elsewhere for southern regions of Odisha viz Berhampur and Paralakhemundi by train, you might overhear the sweet songs of Dada alias Abhi Kumar in the local and express trains.
Otherwise, you might discover the young vocal artist on the railway's platforms, carrying a handy Bluetooth woofer and a modular microphone with a small remote, barely in his hands and looking frantically for a train to come onboard.
The ace but all-weather vocalist easily manages to create a moving stage on the train, once he fixes the small woofer up on the rack, meant for luggage, and starts with a melodious anchoring, like a professional stage manager in multiple languages. Subsequently, he rounds up in the compartments with his fascinating tones wherein he enthrals passengers with vintage songs composed by ace background singers like Kishore Kumar, Md. Raffi and Himesh Resmia, and imitating the pitches of a number of Hollywood singers. After a due interval, he lands as a mimicry master and reciprocates the hoarse dialogues of villains and jesters, most popular in Hindi, Bengali and Tamil films. Apart from that, he mesmerizes every sort of passenger performing songs of female singers solo with pre-recorded tracks, regulated from a remote control, in his hand.
Dada performs songs of all formats, be it purely classical like a ghazal, a duet in thumri, patriotic songs based on typical rags, critical modern versions of rap songs and rock music on passengers’ demand to get sizeable tips as a token of reward.
Dada, who hails from the Sialdah area in West Bengal, presents a wide range of traditional film songs, folk songs, and age-old, popular folklore with legendary singers’ classical compositions in the trains. Apart from that, he shares the stage with other renowned singers in the mass festivals observed in Odisha, West Bengal and Maharastra.
Being asked on the mobile orchestra, Dada said, “I had no way out to manage my family which was almost deserted in the Pandemic. Corona outbreak broke my dreams, while I was all set to fetch sweet homes in Dubai and Singapore being an ace playback singer abroad. I was getting sizeable forex from attending VIPs and VVIPs programmes in five-star hotels, where I used to entertain their companies on special occasions.
Gone are those days, when I had to leave for the homeland, with a heavy heart, after spending a few days and nights in the airport, due to the Corona pandemic at its peak.”
“I had to take a lot of strain to meet both my ends in my home state. No cultural programme, no stage show, and no way of entertainment during the lockdown and shutdown forced me to land on the road, as a vegetable seller, only to live. Meanwhile, my mother’s sickness and later her untimely death added woes to my distress. I could neither fly abroad nor stand firmly on my waist straight and strong here to switch over to any other business, Dada added.
However, he said he will leave for abroad again, once he pays due tribute to his mother on the annual anniversary day (Punya tithi).
The reason behind setting a new stage on moving stage carriers, what Dada said, being entertained or entertaining others with an emotional piece of song on or under an amphitheatre is quite a nightmare for today’s people. With a sprinting speed, a man is passionately anxious to get amusing songs, music and other forms of merriments at his finger tips from live-streaming or social media, during a frantic journey towards a fixed goal or definite destination.
Girija Shankar Nanda, a new generation singer and a regular passenger of Rourkela-Bhubaneswar Intercity Express said, Abhi Ghosh has a magical voice which is very conducive to deliver songs of every format as accurate as the original vocalists, whatever soft or of high pitch.
A few legendary songs in Dada’s sweet rhythm make me fast asleep and help me forget the worries of my journey, Nanda added.
At a time when there is no time to stand and stare, the busy people are living a mechanical life. We all run after money and in search of newer achievements almost every day. Besides, hobby, leisure and leisurely pursuits find no space and time here to be a part of one’s life. However, Dada’s mission for public entertainment and innovative idea for self-sustenance by the way,is an inspiration for the Corona-hit youths.