Friday, July 11, 2008

Where the hell is Matt were my ears?

I can't thank Bongo enough. He first brought it to my notice, via The NY Times, and Sepia Mutiny, that the video which had blown my mind away on first watch about ten days ago, and by now has been viewed five million times already, had music set on lyrics from Rabindranath tagore's poem from Gitanjali. Set to haunting music by Gary Schyman, and sung with rare verve by Palbasha Siddique, a Bangladeshi teenager out of Minnesota. Like the NY Times article says,

In many ways “Dancing” is an almost perfect piece of Internet art: it’s short, pleasingly weird and so minimal in its content that it’s open to a multitude of interpretations. It could be a little commercial for one-world feel-goodism. It could be an allegory of American foreign policy: a bumptious foreigner turning up all over the world and answering just to his own inner music. Or it could be about nothing at all — just a guy dancing.However you interpret it, you can’t watch “Dancing” for very long without feeling a little happier.

I was so happy watching the video I couldn't, or didn't bother about lyrics at all. At first watch, it sounded like something in in an obscure language, maybe Maori. The music was appropriate. I even showed it to two Bengali friends last Sunday morning, over beer. They had the same reaction. Nobody caught the words.

Bongo was curious about what the poem actually was, so I thought about looking a little more and found it was from Gitanjali. Utube has even released a version of the music with subtitles here. The number is selling wildly on Amazon too. The lyrics I will Ctrl-C Ctrl-V from here for fellow Bengalis who might be too lazy to read subtitles.

Bhulbona ar shohojete
Shei praan e mon uthbe mete
Mrittu majhe dhaka ache
je ontohin praan

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami

Shei jhor jeno shoi anonde
Chittobinar taare
Shotto-shundu dosh digonto
Nachao je jhonkare!

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami
She ki shohoj gaan.

Two things. I'm as true red a Bong as they come, though I don't readily recall that poem. Second, as many Bongs would agree, the work that got Tagore his Nobel was definitely not his best. It was like giving the Coen Brothers the Best Picture Oscar for No Country, and not for Fargo or Oh Brother, where art thou?

Wifey, of course, effortlessly took the cake. Last weekend I once went running some errands while the video was playing on the pc. She was pottering about the house and not watching. She now says she caught the words right then and it sounded vaguely like Rabindranath. I'm like, stop pheko-ing, mama!

3 comments:

Sud said...

That song sure grows on you. Couldn't find an English translation anywhere though

Partho said...

Why, you're not being attentive. The translation is all over the web. It was the original words that took a little digging. The translation is at the Sepiamutiny link on this post too.

bongopondit said...

Thanks for posting the poem. I could not place it either - but then I am not quite the authority.