Many Homes of a Song

Many Homes of a Song

When an age-old song satisfies the metaphor of contemporary times,tracking its roots becomes imperative.

You Don’t Belong

Overdose Films,

Rs 450

When an age-old song satisfies the metaphor of contemporary times,tracking its roots becomes imperative. Lal paharir deshe ja,raanga maattir deshe ja,idhak to ke maanai chena re — the folk song — originally attributed to an unknown baul artiste,has always been popular in collective memory. Soppy with emotions,the ditty has also been extremely hummable. The meanings and thoughts associated with the seemingly simple words and the absence of obvious artistic rules make it an ingrained element in Bengali sensibility and the subject of Delhi-based filmmaker Spandan Banerjee’s black and white documentary,You Don’t Belong.

The song,which approximately translates into “you don’t belong”,may have been credited to unknown musicians,but Banerjee’s sleuthing digs up much more as he tries to correct a glaring omission in the records — the providence of the poetry and the tune. And thus begins the difficult journey that tries to unsettle myths about the song. In the background run the questions of ownership,oral folk traditions and copyright issues. There is minimal commentary as the characters narrate the story themselves and with some interesting editing,the story comes together.

Paban Das Baul is a rustic soul wrapped in urban sensibility who lives in France. He jams with acts like Indian Ocean and singer Susheela Raman. Bengali band Bhoomi thrives on a series of folk styles. Prabuddha Dasgupta is a Kolkata-based musician,who sings protest songs while Paraspather is a bygone band,left only with flashbacks of their popular songs and lost stardom. But one thing that binds these different musicians together is Lal Paharir..,a song sung and performed by all of them. During the journey of these musicians,the home of the song changes as does the singing style.


The journey leads to 70-year-old Arun Chakraborty,the poet of the song,a recluse,who lives in Chunchura,a district near Hooghly. We see an undiminished pride in his demeanor. People might not even know that he still lives; but his passion remains,as he sits in a room full of books,notebooks and papers,leaving no place to sit on the ground,and talks about the song he penned about 40-years ago. The film is also an effort to understand why a whole community of musicians was airbrushed from our musical consciousness. It flows with a pace similar to that of the song and has a strange inbuilt rhythm to it. It moves outward and then back in time and creates a web of this baul song — so much so that one starts to hum it by the end.

The wandering music cult,the bauls,achieved what they live for: they travelled with their music and made it popular everywhere,providing the song a home so that its story is remembered and the voices aren’t forgotten.