Articles by: Monish R Chatterjee

Imagining a Different World – For Andre Vltchek- 1962-2020

Imagining a Different World – For Andre Vltchek- 1962-2020

[ I received the news late last night from Counterpunch- one of my favorite columnists- activist, visionary, poet, philosopher, friend of the downtrodden, Andre Vltchek, had slumped into the seat of a taxicab, his wife next to him, while traveling somewhere in Turkey, and never woke up.  I truly did not want to believe it- in a worldwide desert terrain[Read More…]

by September 27, 2020 Arts/Literature
The Caged Bird and the Free Bird

The Caged Bird and the Free Bird

Rabindranath Tagore’s Lyrical Ballad on Freedom and Confinement [Here is a recent performance of this ballad by Lopamudra Mitra and Iman from YouTube: The caged bird was in the gilded cage, the free bird in the wood Perchance, once, the twain met each other, perhaps a quirk in the Maker’s mood. Said the free bird, “Caged bird, dear, come to[Read More…]

by September 22, 2020 Arts/Literature
My Alibi – A revolutionary’s manifesto

My Alibi – A revolutionary’s manifesto

Kazi Nazrul Islam Translation © 2020 Monish Chatterjee [A YouTube recitation by the poet’s son, Kazi Sabyasachi: I am the poet of now, not of the Nuevo future Call me poetic, call me prosaic, I accept with nary a word. Some tell me, “Your place is with the earth-bound, The mortal – why do we not witness emerging From your[Read More…]

by August 14, 2020 Arts/Literature
The Baritone of Our Renaissance:  Hemanta Mukhopadhyay (1920-1989) at 100

The Baritone of Our Renaissance:  Hemanta Mukhopadhyay (1920-1989) at 100

Part I:  The Life-Changing Rabindra-Sangeet He Revealed to Me I was born in a post-renaissance, post-independence Bengal, in the city of Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta from colonial times), at a time when the Bengal Renaissance, which began with Raja Rammohun Roy (1774-1833) and many would argue reached its zenith with Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), was beginning its gradual descent into mediocrity (in[Read More…]

by July 18, 2020 Arts/Literature
Captain, Beware!

Captain, Beware!

Kandari Hoonshiar  by     Kazi Nazrul Islam Unscalable mounts, impassable deserts, turbulent seas These you must conquer in freedom’s quest in the dead of night Sailors, beware! The surf rises in disquiet, the boat heaves, the boatman loses track   The sails have ripped, who will steer the course, who has the himmat? Who here is young and brave, come[Read More…]

by June 29, 2020 Arts/Literature
The Caste Hooligans –    Part II

The Caste Hooligans –    Part II

           Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) The Caste Hooligans –    Part II – ( Jaater Naame Bajjati Shob )   Blinded even in daylight, do you see not How every moment of every day, this caste insanity In the grinding stone of its crushing mill Is pounding every one of you to pulp? The weight of your caste insanity is killing[Read More…]

by June 19, 2020 Arts/Literature
The Caste Hooligans

The Caste Hooligans

  ( Jaater Naame Bajjati Shob ) Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976)   Translation © Monish R Chatterjee 2020 The caste hooligans have long been at play Caste fraudsters gambling with human life – So touching a fellow human makes you an outcaste Is your caste, then, fragile as candy in a child’s hand? Caste hooligans playing roulette.   Hookah water[Read More…]

by June 7, 2020 Arts/Literature
My Wretched Country

My Wretched Country

(Hey Mor Durbhaga Desh) Rabindranath Tagore Translation © Monish R Chatterjee 2020 O my wretched country For each one upon whom you have heaped insult Through insult it is, one day, you shall be their equal! Him you have denied the very rights of a human being Left standing before you, degraded, yet took not into your lap- Through insult[Read More…]

by June 4, 2020 Arts/Literature
Unlikely Confluences:  Sarah Bernhardt, Nikola Tesla and Swami Vivekananda

Unlikely Confluences:  Sarah Bernhardt, Nikola Tesla and Swami Vivekananda

            In one of those obscure, seemingly unlikely, yet epoch-making encounters in the grand pageant of human interactions, the paths of three trailblazers of contemporary history- the divinely graceful French actress and singer, Sarah Bernhardt, the Yugoslav inventor-genius par excellence Nikola Tesla, and the Indian cyclonic monk and firebrand Vedantist, Swami Vivekananda, came together in ostensibly mysterious ways towards the[Read More…]

by February 3, 2020 Life/Philosophy
A Sampling of 1970s Bengali Songs of Pintu Bhattacharya: an Obscure Star of the Post-Renaissance Musical Age

A Sampling of 1970s Bengali Songs of Pintu Bhattacharya: an Obscure Star of the Post-Renaissance Musical Age

Following the renaissance epoch of Bengali vocal music between 1900-1950, established by key creative figures such as Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Dwijendralal Roy (1863-1913), Rajanikanta Sen (1865-1910), Atul Prasad Sen (1871-1934) and Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), five compositional geniuses who blazed their trails into musical history, and to whom Bengal’s musical heritage owes its identity to this day–there occurred an expected[Read More…]

by July 25, 2019 Arts/Literature
Keshta, old manservant of mine -Rabindranath Tagore- a narrative poem

Keshta, old manservant of mine -Rabindranath Tagore- a narrative poem

Keshta, old manservant of mine (Puratan Bhritya) Rabindranath Tagore- a narrative poem Translated by ©Monish R. Chatterjee (2019) Goblinesque of appearance, he was a fool beyond measure Anything went missing, screamed the mistress, “Keshta stole our treasure.” From dawn till dusk, I swore on his father’s name- barely any heed he paid The caning exceeded his earning, yet witless was[Read More…]

by April 1, 2019 Arts/Literature
Shivaji-Utsav (Shivaji Festival) By Rabindranath Tagore

Shivaji-Utsav (Shivaji Festival) By Rabindranath Tagore

                       A few distant centuries ago, on a nondescript day I can barely imagine Upon what craggy hilltop, within a dense sunless forest O sovereign Shivaji Lightning-like, across your forehead, there flashed The thought from above- “With a singular religious thread, this torn up, fragmented Bharata, I shall bind in[Read More…]

by February 24, 2019 Arts/Literature
Partition Angst in Annada Shankar Roy’s Nursery Rhyme

Partition Angst in Annada Shankar Roy’s Nursery Rhyme

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0gOLaYH-rk A translation of Annada Shankar’s Teler Shishi with commentary The Jar of Oil Annada Shankar Roy Translated by Monish R Chatterjee   Little Khuku breaks a jar of oil, And here you are fighting mad Yet you, grown-up kids, breaking up, dividing our Bharat You say ain’t half as bad Well, what then? What then? What then?   There you[Read More…]

by October 30, 2018 Arts/Literature
Fifty Years without You in this Wilderness

Fifty Years without You in this Wilderness

[This poem was written in remembrance of half-a-century since the passing of my mother, a most remarkable woman the world did not get to know (reminds me much of Thomas Gray’s famous Elegy with the potent lines: Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: Full many a flow’r is born to blush[Read More…]

by May 14, 2018 Arts/Literature
Rabindranath Tagore’s Hero Poems

Rabindranath Tagore’s Hero Poems

[While Tagore wrote extensively on philosophical exchanges between significant characters from India’s great epics, such as the Karna-KuntiSamvad, the vast compendium of his poetry is essentially reflective and non-historic.  He did, however, write a few tribute poems dedicated to heroic figures from India’s medieval years, including the Sikh hero, Banda Singh Bahadur, and the Maratha chief, ChhatrapatiShivaji.  In this sequence,[Read More…]

by April 26, 2018 Arts/Literature
Epiphany at Dawn:  Rabindranath Tagore’s Ode to Dawn

Epiphany at Dawn:  Rabindranath Tagore’s Ode to Dawn

That the living experience is akin to a joyous festival with multiple stimuli is made clear literally stanza by stanza in this poem, and requires little elaboration or exposition.

by August 3, 2017 Arts/Literature
The Unique Musical Creations of Kumar Sachin Dev Burman and Their Roots in the Reeds and Soil of Bengal-  Part II

The Unique Musical Creations of Kumar Sachin Dev Burman and Their Roots in the Reeds and Soil of Bengal-  Part II

On the subject of SDB’s lifelong allegiance and closeness to the folk traditions of Bengal, there is an excellent interview by SankarlalBhattacharjee (whose transcript is available at the link appended to the end of this essay)- titled The Case for Folk Music, the  interview focuses primarily on his experiences in the Bombay film industry.  In the interview, he points out[Read More…]

by February 25, 2017 Arts/Literature
The Unique Musical Creations of Kumar Sachin Dev Burman and Their Roots in the Reeds and Soil of Bengal-  Part I

The Unique Musical Creations of Kumar Sachin Dev Burman and Their Roots in the Reeds and Soil of Bengal-  Part I

His apparent estrangement from the Tagorean epoch As with many other frontiers, the Bengal renaissance flowered mellifluously in the domain of music as well.  An exhaustive account of this creative flowering would of course require the space of several books, suffice it to say that the overarching contributor to this renaissance was none other than the greatest symbol of the[Read More…]

by February 24, 2017 Arts/Literature