With Durga Puja round the corner, a member of an over 60-year-old band party (street band) rues how business is suffering as puja organisers are increasingly shunning the traditional immersion processions, forcing them to make do with wedding parties for survival.
The scene is not too different in Maharaja Band, Indian National Band and Calcutta Band which are part of the 50-odd band parties dotting the stretch between M G Road-College Street crossing and M G Road-Central Avenue crossing for years. “Business is suffering with the invasion of DJs (Disc Jockeys), which became an integral part of small and medium budget pujas. Many organisers are also giving more stress on theme pujas and are doing away with colourful immersion processions with illuminated gates and English Brass Band.
“But still, we are sustaining as many old barowari (community) puja organisers still follow the old traditions as well as wedding processions increasingly taking a major part of our bookings. However, many members of the troupe has shifted to other professions,” a 55-year-old member of the Mehboob Band said at a felicitation ceremony organised here.
The band, known as ‘band party’ in common parlance, offered English Brass Band, Classical Shehnai Party, Gas Light, and Orchestra and roped in by big budget puja organisers as well as others for processions. “At one time, our band parties were an integral part of each and every puja immersion procession and we were fully booked throughout the festive season,” the member said.
Celebrated music composer Debojyoti Mishra said, “To judge if a song became a hit or not, you need to see if the same number has been played by a band. When they perform a number, that means it has become a hit. “So, the feliciation is a tribute to such musicians who have been entertaining us over so many decades,” Mishra said after honouring ageing and younger members of the troupe which had started its journey during pre-independence at M G Road in the city, previously known as Harrison Road.
Mishra said he would involve street musicians to release his album abroad. “This unique street art of India, where performers have been practising it for generations, should be given due respect,” Mishra said at the felicitation programme organised at a book store at a shopping mall here.