By Arnab Mitra and Sreyashi Mazumdar
With globalization taking its course, vernacular languages have somewhere down the line been left behind, bearing a laggard status. Despite the end of colonialism, there is a prevalence of neo-colonial essence essentially in the form of globalization with English language holding a special stature.
In India, vernacular languages have plummeted, especially when Indians are striving hard to get into the popular culture essentially shaped by a westernized approach. According to a national survey report in 2013, there will be no place for vernacular languages in India within a stint of 50 years.
West Bengal is one of those states which has been beleaguered by the surge of globalization. Bengali language’s preponderance has taken a downward trend owing to the onset of English as a popular and widely accepted language.
In his pursuit to rekindle the prevalence of Bengali in West Bengal, Rajib Gupta, maternal grandson of the legendary musician Pankaj Mullick, and his wife Jhinuk Gupta have been trying to enliven the status of Bengali language through music among the locals of Bengal.
In an encounter with the Gupta duo, NewsGram tried to unravel the duo’s intent behind their novel project ‘Punorutthan’ –an attempt at instilling the language’s lost flavor.
Arnab Mitra: Why did you take the initiative to revive Bengali language and culture?
Rajib Gupta: In the year 1952, five people dedicated their lives to propel Bengali language and culture. And look at us, we Bengalis are neglecting our language, it is like forsaking your own mother. Rabindranath said, “A race cannot move uprooting their roots”.
It is an alarming situation wherein you don’t learn your language properly, and you become a Benglish. I am a music composer and my wife is a singer, so we have gone through situations wherein people found it difficult to apprehend the Bengali language.
Therefore, to save our own culture and language, we took this initiative.
Jhinuk Gupta: We run an academy called Pankaj Mullik Music and Art Foundation. I observed that the students found it difficult to understand simple Bengali words and they preferred rewriting it in English. The level of degradation in terms of the language’s popularity made us start off a project like this.
Arnab Mitra: What is your concept behind this project ‘Punorutthan’?
Rajib Gupta: The project is at its initial stage and I am grateful to Dr. Kallol Guha for his huge support. We are planning to make a short film, which will be based on music, and as you know movies always have a wider reach and people can watch them through different mediums. The main theme of this movie is to make people understand the importance of Bengali language.
Jhinuk Gupta: We are working hard to finish our project before Durga Puja. Till now we have composed five songs and have planned to release the film on Panchami.
Arnab Mitra: Do you think that Punorutthan’s attempt at reviving Bengali language will end up garnering positive results?
Rajib Gupta: I can’t give my opinion on this as of now because it all depends on the people of Bengal. But as a Bengali, I think it is my duty to revive the essence of our own language and to rekindle people’s reverence towards it.
Jhinuk Gupta: Punorutthan of Bengali language will only be possible when the Bengalis start to respect their own language and culture.