It was exactly 5pm when I closed the door and put the key in my bag. It was a humid evening in Kolkata, but I wasn’t perspiring from the hide-n-seek of the rain. As I walked down the now-familiar path from the local guest house where I love to stay sometimes, hiding away from the crowd and the faces, I hailed the yellow cab and headed to that so-looked-forward spot, and that oh-so-dreading now place! As the Kolkata buildings and streets started to whizz past, I could feel the butterflies in my tummy…oh no..why was I doing this? Could I still run back?
It was the Anupam Roy concert at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata and I had travelled all the way from Mumbai only for this one evening. I had arrived alone after a 32-hour train journey to the city, and after the concert, was due to fly out the next morning. A cross-country journey, alone, to first time see that man perform live, whose music happened to change my life so significantly – was I being silly?
If anything else, I was sure this was all worth it.
As I entered the green room I was nervous. Of course it wasn’t green, but a wooden feel space with the typical light-bulbs around the mirrors that we’ve seen so many times in movies. Trust me, it gives quite a feel!
I immediately scanned the room and could see that Anupam was still not there. Instead, there was a live current going on, pre-concert. The entire gang comprising the Anupam Roy band was there - Nabarun Bose (keyboards and background vocals), Sandipan Parial (drums), Roheet Mukherjee and Ronodeep Bose (guitar) and Rana Singharoy and Raja, who manage and look after the entire smooth functioning of the band. Just a few minutes and we were off chatting and singing and fooling around. But my mind was really quite elsewhere.
How does it feel when you are standing right there where you are about to meet that voice that you’ve been listening to for so long? The voice that told you so many things your heart always kind of knew, but really couldn’t say. Exciting, scary, nervous, confused, shy, tongue-tied, ready to run out the door – just a few feelings that were racing through my entire ‘nervous’ system.
(* with Anupam Roy and the gang after the performance)
The door opened and a tall fair guy with black-and-red-rimmed glasses, dressed in a black silk kurta and cream corduroys entered. Greetings and chatting and talking about what’s been done, what’s to be done and the usual camaraderie where a lot of young and creative minds are involved. After a smile and a hi, I of course crept to the farthest corner I could without looking too obviously rude. Of course my tongue had decided to get tied at that very moment, and I was trying to come up with a dozen excuses of somehow getting out of there.
Just then it was decided that Anupam and the guys would be going on-stage, so off ran everyone and me to the stage, doing the sound-check (not me, I was friends, not a performer) and the usual routines that happen before you go live.
Feeding myself the staple diet of typical Anupam Roy songs for quite a long time now, I was all-too excited to see how it would all come out on stage. And boy! Even before the curtains were up, as the voice floated out and began touching those many hearts sitting out there, the excitement was there for everyone to feel. And then it was time.
ANUPAM ROY LIVE on stage and everywhere there were hands waving, arms swaying, people cheering, singing, smiling, reminiscing…and me…where was I? I was transported and transfixed, if you can know how that can happen altogether! I was dancing, singing, clapping, cheering, living each moment of the song backstage right there, as I watched Anupam sing and connect with the audience, and feeling those many watts of happiness coursing through my veins. Almost to the extent of reaching the centre of the stage and risking a kick-out of sorts! Ask anyone who was present backstage at this concert and you will know I'm serious.. I must admit I don’t understand all the words, and there is no better example of music having no language really. Anupam Roy, for me, has brought me back to those roots of mine that were till now there, but just there. Now, with these new relationships with a culture that I am learning to know and love more with each passing moment, I must say it’s a new beginning.
The entire management who had invited Anupam Roy, the organisers and everyone present backstage just couldn’t have enough of him and the amazing guys who set the stage on fire. Even as the stage burned with all that energy, there was much activity going on at the side, dancing, women (of all ages mind you) oohh-aahing, trying to catch a glimpse of the man of the hour, and the most popular of all - ‘taai, Onupam gaaichhey?ei dekhi dekhi’ and ‘ufff….ki daaroooon gaaye na’. There were quite a few more too, but, well, let’s leave it out as personal… ;-)
Show over and it was time to head back to the green room again. And already there were quite a few fans waiting for the usual photographs and autographs. With all that singing and jumping around, the entire gang was out-of-breath and tired, but Anupam Roy missed no moment in signing for all those who were there to take back these memories and posing for a click with each fan who wanted to capture this moment forever…..
I won’t get into more here, just to say that for the star that he is now, this young man is one of the most down-to-earth, humble, soft-spoken and painfully shy person that I’ve seen in a long time. Not to mention observing, perceptive, witty, charming, and above all, a true performer. A star who knows where his roots are and prefers to be himself.....
Thanks for giving us a chance to have this music….
- Debolina Raja Gupta