Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reputations! One precedes, the other follows

A couple of weeks back, while travelling, I chatted up with a journalist friend of mine from Kolkata. I learnt from her that Roopa Ganguly had bagged the National Award for the best play back singer.
I, like Roopa herself and many others, was quite surprised by the news. Most people in Bengal and beyond know Roopa for her acting and proficiency in histrionics rather than for her singing abilities.
Roopa, a senior Tollywood actress, is remembered even today for her role of Draupadi in the national blockbuster serial Mahabharata. In Bengal, people know her as an established film actress with films like Antarmahal,Padma Nadir Majhi and Yugant, by directors Rituparno, Gautam Ghosh and Aparna Sen respectively, to her credit. A couple of years back she was again in the national limelight for her frank and bold confessions in the controversial serial Sach Ka Saamna.
Roopa’s singing abilities were hardly known beyond a small circle though she had formed an orchestra group with her cousins long before Dibyendu, her love mate, came into her life. But those who belonged to her friends' circle did know about her singing talent. She had even lent her voice sans music in one of the episodes of Mahabharata.
I have many memories of evenings at her house and in my drawing room when she used to sing all types of songs from Rabindra Sangeet to rock and Dibyendu used to strum the guitar. Roopa has always been a big fan of Dibyendu’s voice. In fact she is the one who introduced Tollywood and Nandan to me. Some years back when we both hosted the closing dinner of Kolkata Film Festival, She and Dibyendu had sung at a live performance.
I have not seen the film Abosheshey directed by Aditi Roy for which Roopa was given the National Award for best playback singing. But I was there at Roopa's house for an informal adda when the film was being shot and that evening on our request she had sung that song
However, in certain circles, this award has created a flutter and utter disbelief. It is more so because Shreya Ghoshal too was a contender who lost out to her. Roopa has gone on record saying that she loves Shreya's voice and it was she who best deserved the Award.
The question doing the rounds is - How can a non-singer, or anyone, who is not even from the singing profession, get a National Award for singing?
And if it is possible, then, Why not Amitabh Bachchan?
He too should have got a National Award for singing the immensely popular Rang Barse song in Silsila as this song went on to become a sort of Holi anthem in India.
If an award is given just because a song is popular, then I am sure there have been many deserving candidates earlier too. But it is also said that you just need one point to win a Noble Prize and just one film can fetch you that Oscar.
Many people from the music fraternity aren't comfortable with the idea of giving an award to a non-singer. But the fact of the matter is that the jury thought Roopa deserved it.
Roopa's reputation as an actress always preceded her. I have a feeling, her reputation as a singer would follow her like her shadow.
Before I end I must thank and congratulate Soumitra Chatterjee who has made us all proud by winning the Dada Saheb Phalke Award. I think it is time that our Tollywood gets more exposure and recognition at the nation fora.
ess bee

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