Silchar’s own talented folk artist, Bikramjit Kar, popularly known as Bikramjit Baulia, has carved a niche for himself among the masses with his love for music, specially the folk genre. His recent original song, ‘Fozir Fozir’ got released on his YouTube channel on Sunday (23rd August, 2020), and was instantaneously loved by the people. Till now, the video has garnered around 3k views. Cachar Chronicles on this occasion, had a candid conversation with the otherwise reserved, yet brilliant folk artist of the valley, and tried knowing him better.
Cachar Chronicles : First of all, congratulations to you and your entire team of ‘Fozir Fozir’ for the release, from the Cachar Chronicles family. You are a popular face today and there are many well-wishers and admirers around, who would like to know you better. So, tell us something about yourself.
Bikramjit Baulia : Thank you so much for your warm wishes. Many people know me as Bikramjit Baulia but I became that later. My original name is Bikramjit Kar. Born and brought up in Silchar, I am a proud Sylheti and did my schooling from Saraswati Vidyaniketan. Since childhood, I had a leaning towards range of cultural activities. Though my home is at Malugram, yet many know me as a resident of Ambicapatty and rightly so, as I feel so much connected to this place. However, unlike many, I did not receive any formal training in music in my childhood. I was a student of Fine Arts. I discovered my predilection for music much later in life and since then, there has been no turning back. Currently, I am associated with G Ninth Orchestra.
Cachar Chronicles : When was your first encounter with music? Where did it all start from?
Bikramjit Baulia : As they say, charity begins at home and so my love for music did blossom from here. In fact, everyone in my family has a deep reverence for music and other art forms. My grandfather was an adept Esraj player. My father, Abhijeet Kar used to play the Tabla fantastically and my uncle, Ranjit Kar is a very well-known Kirtaniya. Even my sisters are associated with music and dance. Since childhood, I have been interested and active in the cultural arena. In school, I used to cheerfully participate in various cultural activities. With the money I received on my birthdays, I would buy audio cassettes and listen to those endlessly. Nonetheless, my journey as a full-fledged and professional musical artist began a bit late. My first stage programme was in 2003.
Cachar Chronicles : Apart from the conducive family environment that you are supremely blessed with, tell us about those people who have been an instant source of inspiration and integral part throughout your journey.
Bikramjit Baulia : The first name that pops up in my mind is Srikanta Acharjee. His album “Neel Dhruva Tara” made me fall in love with music. Sonu Nigam and Udit Narayan are two musical personalities from the Hindi music industry whom I deeply admire and respect. I consider Sonu Nigam as my idol. I was fortunate enough to have met him two years back at the Kolkata Airport. We had a brief conversation and I gifted him my CDs. He actually listened to those, called me up and said “Bikramjit, aap bohot accha gaatey ho, uparwala aapke saath hain.” (Bikramjit, you sing really well, the Almighty is with you). In the folk genre, the first and foremost person who immensely inspired me is Bidhan Da. Truth be told, he is the reason why I love folk so much. Anup Acharjee, Jewel Choudhury, Rajib Paul Choudhury, Manik Dutta, Nirupam Barbhuiya and Bidhan Laskar are some of the people who have stood behind me like my pillars of strength. I am highly grateful to Raja Choudhury who has been a constant support and has helped me reach where I am today. Under the tutelage of Tapas Shankar Deb, I received my training in music. I received training in folk music from my Guru, Abhijeet Basu. I consider myself blessed to have received the grace of Parbati Baul. I look upto her as an inspiration. For a brief moment, I even had the privilege to take classes from the musical giant, Sri Hariharan Ji.
Cachar Chronicles : Your album ‘Baulia’ which got released in 2013 was warmly received and loved by the music lovers. The songs are absolutely fresh in our memories and still hit among the masses. You are now back with another song. What is the song all about? Who are the people associated with you in this project?
Bikramjit Baulia : The song is called ‘Fozir Fozir’. It is basically a Jhumur song. We had recorded the song four years back and it was very much appreciated by the audiences. Bearing in mind the love it had got back then, we decided to shoot a video for the same song and release it on the OTT platform. Besides, Jhumur being extremely close to my heart, this song is also special because it is a song of our Barak Valley. It is completely an original composition and we can even have a copyright over it. Debashish Chakraborty Sayan penned down the lyrics. Kanailal Das and Bubi Singha were the flutist and guitarist respectively. The keyboard arrangement was done by Nirupam Barbhuiya and the music arrangement was looked after by Late Jewal Chowdhury. Unfortunately, Jewel Da left us too soon but we will remain indebted to him. Other than them, Ranabir Singha, Subhrajit Paul and Hrishikesh Das were integral part of this project. Poonam, Ananya, Shipra, Debanjan, Abhay and Sourav were the dancers.
Cachar Chronicles : Does Bikramjit, the folk artist still paint or is it a matter of the past?
Bikramjit Baulia : Yes, I do. Painting has been my first love and I wanted to become a fashion designer. But due to lack of resources, I could not materialize this dream. There are many friends of mine who know me more as a painter than as a folk artist. Even for my Facebook live sessions, I used to sit behind my paintings. I had completed Nipun in painting and in addition to that, I am a recipient of Chief Minister Award. It is nevertheless, my passion. With time I found my solace in music and since then, have been pursuing it with all sincerity. Now, it has become my identity.
Cachar Chronicles : From Bikramjit Kar to Bikramjit Baulia, you have definitely come a long way. The journey has been quite interesting so far. How would you describe it?
Bikramjit Baulia : The journey from Bikramjit Kar to Bikramjit Baulia has definitely been a challenging one. There have been numerous breakdowns and breakthroughs as well. As a newcomer or beginner, there were lots of hardships. I used to request the various artists to provide me a chance to sing. Sometimes, I would get, other times I would not. There had been times when I was extremely ridiculed, teased, laughed at and even called names. I can recall such an incident where I was supposed to perform near my residential area for a grand event but came back home tearfully. I had to struggle more for the social prejudices held, against me than for music. I was made fun of, more by the people, I know, than by the strangers. This needs to be changed. If we cannot be supportive of others, we should not discourage them. Despite that, I carried on with my dreams. My love for music kept me going. With my patience, dedication and perseverance, I am here today.
Cachar Chronicles : As a renowned artist of this valley, what changes have you witnessed in the musical realm?
Bikramjit Baulia : With absolutely no disrespect to any language or community, I must acknowledge the fact that there was a time when we were too much indulged in other genres of music, ignoring our beautiful folk culture of Barak. But, things have changed a lot now. As an artist, it gives me immense pleasure to witness the growing fondness for Bengali folk music among my people today. Bidhan Da, Manjushree Di, Sarbani Di, Dolchhut and many others with their relentless efforts and soulful voices and tracks have helped rekindled our love for folk culture. On an individual level, I have always tried to present our old folk songs in a new avatar, so that even a college-goer can relish its beauty. It gives me contentment to admit that this idea has worked. Today, if you notice, in any of the events taking place at any part of our town, our folk songs are preferred over other genres. I have said this before that we need to archive these treasures so that the younger generations can learn about our glorious roots. The history of Barak needs to be preserved and passed on.
Cachar Chronicles : Given the revival of the love and craze for Bengali folk music in the valley in these recent years, the future of folk seems quite bright here. There are many young, passionate and ardent folk lovers who are optimistic about pursuing it as a profession. What advice would you like to give them in this regard?
Bikramjit Baulia : As you can see, there is no dearth of creative talent in our Barak. With time, many new bands are coming up. Social media has become a boon today, as there are ample chances of showcasing one’s talent. However, the main snag is that, most of the youngsters today do not try to gain the basic knowledge about the subject, that they are learning, including music. They don’t want to go into the depth of the subject-matter. So, my suggestion to them is to learn sincerely. Make your foundation strong. I did not appear for examinations, but I tried to grasp the things diligently. Specially for the folk genre, I would recommend them to work on the pronunciation first. It is a major concern today. Secondly, try to understand the meaning of the song instead of memorizing the lyrics. For the budding artists, try to involve your audience in your performance. Make them an inseparable part of your performance and to me, this is the mantra of a successful musical event. But most importantly, believe in your hardwork. Do not give up on your dreams. You will be criticized. Do not let that break or deter you, instead, use that as a stepping stone to success. Perseverance and faith in oneself goes a long way. And as an elder brother, I will always be with them. They can contact me anytime. I will be more than happy to help them in whatever way I can.
Cachar Chronicles : 2020 has not been favourable or kinder to any of us, both at the personal and professional fronts. What effect does the global pandemic have on artists like you? Along with that, give us a glimpse of your future plans and projects.
Bikramjit Baulia : This pandemic has really hit us hard. People like us who are associated with the entertainment profession are facing a very tough time. Nobody is thinking about us. It is unfortunate that the government is sanctioning funds but we, the ones associated with the entertainment industry, are not getting any benefits. Facebook lives are quite popular today. It could have become a medium in improving our financial situation in these troubled times. I even raised my voice for that but to no avail. Keeping in mind the current situation as well as my long-term goals, I have decided to venture into the world of business and start a pharmacy. The inauguration will most probably take place in the next month. With regard to music, it is my passion and my identity, I will never leave that but will certainly restrict myself to a handful of programmes and events only.
Cachar Chronicles : It has been a wonderful experience talking to you. We wish you all the best for your ‘Fozir Fozir’ as well as your future endeavours.
Bikramjit Baulia : Thank you so much.