Oriplast Originals offers bold Bengali music collaborations and is a must watch for lovers of Coke Studio, MTV Unplugged

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Jul 24, 2019 10:05:02 IST

If you have been a fan of such musical shows like Coke Studio and MTV Unplugged, and have craved to have something similar on offer in the vernacular, there is good news for you. The trend seems to be catching on, and more and more regional content producers are coming up with similar ideas – carefully curated, beautifully produced songs in regional languages that thrive on local flavour and aspire for a global reach. The latest such offering comes from West Bengal, with SVF Music’s new programme Oriplast Originals – touted to be the biggest musical collaboration Bengali music has witnessed in the internet era.

Shree Venkatesh Films and Ori-Plast Limited have joined hands to carefully curate ten original songs slated to stream from the 19th of July. The first song – a soft, beautiful duet composed by Subhadeep Mitra and sung by Papon and Shalmali Kholgade is already out and has received positive response. ‘Aajo Cholechi’ has the misty aroma of Himachal and is essentially a song about leaving home and finding oneself in the pursuit of one’s dreams. Talking about his involvement in the series, Papon says, "It feels wonderful to share a platform with artists across the country, it makes me ecstatic. Subhadeep is brilliant, and Shalmali is a sweetheart. Though this is the first time we have all worked together, we have been friends for a long time, so it went well."

 Oriplast Originals offers bold Bengali music collaborations and is a must watch for lovers of Coke Studio, MTV Unplugged

Papon and Shalmali Kholgade. Image credit: Oriplast Originals Facebook

For the most part, the songs rely heavily on fusion – which is a good thing. Tapping into genres such as Baul, Bihu, Rap, Classical and even New-Age Pop, the compositions explore a completely new and original soundscape. But the talented composers are not afraid to try out something outside of fusion too. A clear example is one of my favourite numbers from the series, an astonishingly soulful and neatly composed ditty titled ‘Bola Jaay Naa’. Composed by Arko Pravo Mukherjee, and sung by Arko and Akriti Kakkar, the highlight of this song is its simplicity – both in terms of its lyrics, as well as its composition. This must be a treat for an artist like Kakkar, who is lucky to have sung another song in the series, which is completely different, in the sense that it is a perky, vibrant fusion between Bihu and the hilly tunes that emerge from the verdant hills of the Dooars. Akriti agrees, "For me it was a double whammy since I got to sing two songs with two of my favourite composers who are also my dear friends — Arko and Ajay Singha. The whole concept of Oriplast Originals is to create something new and free and that for any artist is so liberating. The song that I have sung for Arko is such a gorgeous, romantic, heartfelt number and the words in Bengali are really beautiful too. The song with Ajay Singha is a raw, dainty, ethnic, rich folk-based song which is a fusion between Bengali and Assamese languages, and it's called ‘Rongila Re Mon’. It’s amazing how these two songs bring out very different colours of my singing and for that I’m grateful to the composers and Oriplast Originals." Dikshu Sharma accompanies Kakkar on ‘Rongila Re Mon’, and he elevates the song to the exhilarating heights of gaiety.

Another fantastic number in the series – ‘Agomonir Gaan’ – has been composed and performed by Anupam Roy. In true Anupam Roy style, it begins with one note and ends up in a completely different place. It starts with swirls of classical, mixed with the longing of a man who lives in a foreign land, whose heart aches to visit his home one more time. We have all felt that pining, haven’t we? A feeling heightened by the advent of a festival that brings back so many fond memories. In this case, Roy chooses one such festive mood as a remembrance, and in an extremely surprising but welcome move, crosses his song with another one of his own compositions. I will leave it to the readers to make this discovery themselves – for it is a joyous one that they just can’t afford to miss.

Bola Jaay Naa’ is not the only song that Arko has composed for the series. Talking about his collaboration with the singer-composer on another beautiful number titled ‘Baundulay’, singer Shaan says, "This is my first song with Arko. I have been a silent admirer of his work and when he made me listen to this one, I was totally floored. Absolutely loved the free-flowing composition, the folk Reggae vibe and the lyrics. Arko is a genuine talent and he allowed me so much freedom to express myself. Had a great time singing with him." Arko’s brilliance becomes evident with how surprisingly original this fusion sounds. Who could have thought that a Bengali song about a self-admitted vagabond could have such rich Jamaican essences? One other thing that I have noticed in both these songs by Arko is that they are very ‘visually rich’ – in that on listening to them with your eyes shut, they help paint a pretty picture in your mind. I’m going to follow Arko’s works quite keenly from now on.

In ‘Jura Juri’, singers Dev Negi and Anushree Gupta’s fusion hops, skips and jumps on its own free will between Sambalpuri, Bengali contemporary romantic, dholak-infused Hindi and even underground hip hop – all in one song! And it does not sound jarring or out of place at all. The credit, of course, goes to its composer – Pratijyoti Ghosh. Bhoomi Trivedi’s heady, intoxicating cocktail of ‘Nodi Bhora Dheu’ has a very nocturnal, night-club sort of feeling, till an absolutely rollicking Lakshman Das Baul takes over and makes the song his own, complete with lyrics that are as deep as the title of the song. It’s a short song, but one of the most impactful ones in the curation. This is what fusion should be like. One element completely losing itself in the other, and still having an identity of its own. Like lovers, who truly understand each other.

Speaking about her lively little number ‘Mon Ke Bojhai’, singer Sona Mohapatra says, "Singing and shooting for the song was an exciting experience. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity for me to collaborate with an amazing new composer Gaurav Chatterji, lyricist Roshni Saha and singer Sahil Solanki whom I mentored as a judge on the TV show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, but it also puts a spotlight on my favourite kind of music – rooted, authentic, full of soul & infectious joy!" Solanki is clearly immensely talented, as evident from the way he holds his own in this insane fusion of Baul and – believe it or not – Qawwali! Javed Ali, Nikita Gandhi and Ash King are the other artists in the series, and their numbers are quite nice too.

I must confess that I started listening to Oriplast Originals with some amount of doubt in my mind – thanks largely to the extremely high standards that its predecessors have left for it to scale. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised and proven wrong. These are songs that are truly original, earthy, and bold. I highly recommend the first season of the show, and I can assure you that you are in for a treat. It has made a promising start, but at the same time, I also hope that in its subsequent seasons, Oriplast Originals will bring to us music from other far-flung corners of this wonderful country that is so rich in melody. That would be the litmus test for the show.

Oriplast Originals is currently streaming on SVF Music’s YouTube channel.

Updated Date: Jul 26, 2019 09:38:13 IST