Dylan acolytes of the east – a photoessay

ronny_sen_01Lou Majaw performing live in a tribute to Bob Dylan show in Someplace Else in Kolkata on 18th July, 2013. The veteran musician from Shillong started an annual concert celebrating Dylan’s musical genius in Shillong since 24th May, 1972.

ronny_sen_02The crowd at Someplace Else on a tribute to Bob Dylan show by Lou Majaw. Born in 1947 his musical career spans over more than half a century now. He says Kolkata loves Bob Dylan more than any other city in the country.

ronny_sen_03Tajdar Junaid is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who is soon releasing his debut solo album “What Colour Is Your Raindrop” which features 18 musicians and instruments from all across the globe. He says Bob Dylan has been a major influence in his life, “Dylan’s mastery of describing love and despair amazes me. He touches these two subjects over and over again but yet each of those songs brings up different stories in my mind. ”

ronny_sen_04Shamik Chatterjee who runs a design workshop in Kolkata is also an amateur musician, being a huge Dylan fan he has Dylan posters all around his office. He says, “Dylan ruined my life”.

ronny_sen_05Amyt Datta, the genius guitarist from Kolkata and mentor of many well know young guitarists from the city played numerous tributes to Bob Dylan shows in the last 40 years. He says Dylan always raised questions and always stretched human mind. He was immensely honest and believed in what he was doing. His perseverance and belief has been the greatest inspiration for Amyt.

ronny_sen_06Rimi B.Chatterjee is an associate professor at the Department of English at Jadavpur University which is the only university in India to teach Bob Dylan’s songs as a subject in English literature. It is mandatory to read Bob Dylan in the undergraduate course. The paper “Poetics and Politics of Rock” is optional at the post-graduation level.

ronny_sen_07Nondon Bagchi, the ace drummer and a very senior musician from Kolkata remembers Dylan’s iconic Highway 61 Revisited album which started the 60’s. He says nobody could be untouched by his music. Musicians like Nondon were one of the first to play Bob Dylan’s music in Kolkata. It was 1968 when they played Ballad of a Thin Man in Trincas on Park Street.

ronny_sen_08Moushumi Bhowmik is a singer, writer and music researcher from Shillong, now based in Kolkata. She says, “I didn’t grow up listening to Dylan like a lot of other people did. It is only in the nineties i think that slowly another world of listening opened up for me. Dylan was in it. But it’s taken time and i still know very little. But i like it that he is part of my world now. His songs so packed with history, with cultural references, with literary allusions. I don’t get all of it, but some i do. I understand a bit when he says i have been to the crossroads. I see the connection of that statement to highway 61. I see where he is coming from, the past–tradition, the blues, the folk scene, woody guthrie, and i also see where he becomes the point from which the future begins. It is not an emotional thing i feel about Dylan, but he sure sharpens the mind. I have a constant need for things which help to think.”

ronny_sen_09Abeer Chakravarty is an advertising executive who is based in Kolkata. He remembers when he was in college how Dylan was a guiding light. He says Dylan would speak about them, for them and he is indebted that back in those days they could find a method in the madness because of Dylan. Abeer always wanted to see Dylan live and finally got a chance to see him playing live at Singapore.

ronny_sen_10Rahul Guha Roy is one of the most famous singer song writer from India. Having spent his formative years in Shillong, he is now based out of Kolkata. He says his biggest influence in life and music is Bob Dylan. He believes if there was no Dylan he wouldn’t have been where he is now. He says if next generation of musicians will like Dylan is questionable, but he will be an indirect influence to whoever is writing original music.

ronny_sen_11Anindya Dutta runs a web designing company in Kolkata. He is an amateur guitarist and he loves blues. He is standing in front of a giant poster inside his office which is the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s one of the most iconic song “All Along the Watchtower”. He says the meaning of the song five years back was something else from what it is now for him.

ronny_sen_12Popularly known as the Bob Dylan of Kolkata, Bertie da Silva teaches at the department of English at the St Xavier’s College. He is a very senior musician who is planning to start performing in live shows again in a few months. He finds it ridiculous that people call him the Bob Dylan of Kolkata.

ronny_sen_13Anjan Dutt is a famous actor, director, and Bengali singer-songwriter from Kolkata. Having studied at the St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling he has always been a great admirer of Bob Dylan.

ronny_sen_14Anupam Roy is a young and upcoming singer-songwriter, music director from Kolkata. He is majorly influenced by Bob Dylan and says. “No one can escape Dylan. Like all songwriters I found poetry in his work. A sound and progressive mind. Like a rolling stone is my favourite.”

ronny_sen_15(from left to right) Indradip Sarkar, Durjoy, and Prithbiraj Dey are playing music at the Jadavpur University campus. Durjoy (second from left) who plays excellent mouth organ and guitar shares his birthday with Bob Dylan. Their teacher would suggest that it is only musicians like Bob Dylan who would inspire the kids here.

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Ronny Sen Written by:

Ronny Sen (1986) was born in Silchar, Assam. He moved to Salt Lake City in Calcutta in the early-90s with his family where he still lives and works. He made his first artist book titled Khmer Din in 2013. Sen represented India at the World Young Artists Event in Nottingham (2012) and was the recipient of the Jenesys Creators’ programme for an artist residency in Japan, organised by The Japan Foundation (2012). He was invited for a masterclass at the University of California in Berkeley and was nominated for the fourth, sixth and seventh editions of the Prix Pictet award. He also won the first prize at the MFI Awards (2014). He recently won Getty Images Instagram Grant. Sen has photographed the Indian General Elections in 2014 for the United Nations and Fabrica, Italy. In 2015, Polish Institute invited him to be an artist-in-residence in Poland. His works were part of the exhibition Abandon, presented by the Gujral Foundation (2015). His photographs are also included in the permanent collection of the Alkazi Collection of Photography. He is currently working on his next book and his recent exhibitions include Arena at the Belvedere Museum, Netherlands.

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