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Anjan Dutta

Anjan Dutta (Born 19 January 1953) is a popular artist of the 1990s Bengali music scene defined by anyodharar gaan (alternative songs). Anjan Dutta's style of music is different from the others in the sense that it has simple tunes, one that is reminiscent of western folk music. His lyrics are simple and more natural. Anjan's music is somewhat influenced by blues, bluegrass, folk and country music. He is the first Bengali artist to depend more on the saxophone. He is an admitted fan of Bob Dylan and his Bengali contemporary Kabir Suman.

Anjan is also an accomplished actor. He started his career as an actor in Bengali cinema. His first film was Chalachitro directed by Mrinal Sen, where he won the prize for the best newcomer actor, at the Venice Film Festival. Recently, he has acted in Aparna Sen's film, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer. Anjan Dutta may be regarded as one of the best serious actors in the Indian serious cinema movement, that has seen the likes of Mrinal Sen's much-esteemed film "Bhuvan Som". Anjan Dutta has been regarded by some as being the 'angry young man' of serious cinema in contemporary India.


Early years

Anjan Dutta was raised in the mountains of North Bengal. He had his schooling from the esteemed St. Paul's School located in Darjeeling. He did not get much opportunity to listen to traditional Bengali songs (like Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti) but became well acquainted with western folk and country music around that time. Initially, he had no plans to make career for himself as a singer. His father was a solicitor, who he wanted his son to take up a career in law, young Anjan was more inclined to working in theaters and cinema. He earned an MA degree in English literature from the University of Calcutta, in India. His friends inspired him to consider taking acting seriously as a profession. During his university days, he started working in theaters with thespian Badal Sarkar.

In late seventies, he joined a group called 'Open Theatre' and in early eighties performed plays translated from works of renowned foreign playwrights like Sartre, Peter Weiss, Jean Genet and Bertold Brecht.The group clearly drew inspiration from Nandikar a highly active and an already famous theater group at that time. But due to politically sensitive content, they faced many obstructions in producing and performing their work, and eventually the group had to discontinue its repertoire.

He was first selected in a feature film named 'Chalachitro' that was directed by renowned filmmaker Mrinal Sen. This was an unexpected break for him. The film with Anjan's performance got critical acclaim in the Venice Film Festival but for unknown reasons, it was never released commercially. After that although he worked as an actor in the film-making industry, he was more interested in doing art cinema (or films with aesthetically sensible filmmakers) rather than commercial mainstream cinema. After doing a few art films that were not so commercially successful, including the critically well received 'Juganto', scarcity of job opportunities forced him to take up jobs in advertising and later as a journalist for the Kolkata based daily, The Statesman.

Introduction to Singing

At that time, Anjan was greatly influenced by the music of Suman Chatterjee (now known as Kabir Suman), who had heralded a new era in Bengali music through his songs, that were very different from the existing genres of Bengali music. These songs and lyrics, commonly referred to as Jeebonmukhi (literally meaning towards life), concerned itself with the tough reality of Bengali middle class social life, in and around Kolkata. Anjan started translating some English songs. In his efforts, he was supported and constantly inspired by his ideological precursor, Suman Chatterjee himself. Dutta later decided to delve into the music arena on his own. When HMV offered to publish his songs, he finally realized that he had to take it seriously.

Anjan: a new dimension to Bangla music

Anjan Dutt is distinguished by a new style he developed, in which a deep influence of theatrical representation is perceptible. In songs like 'bose achi Istisionete' (I am sitting inside the railway station) or 'Maser prothom dinta' (The first day of the month), this theme of theatrical realism becomes obvious. He is deft at bringing out the subtle nuances of the urban landscape in his lyrics. A substantial portion of his songs capture stories of various urban creatures like Raja Roy, Samson, Horipado, Mala, Roma and numerous other characters who have come alive through his songs.

Singing career

It is well known that Anjan Dutta's songs are influenced by classical music, and especially country music and blues. Initially, he composed more upbeat, comparatively light-hearted compositions like Calcium, Haripada, Ranjana among others. These songs were influenced by numbers like Cecilia, Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard or the Beatles' track Nowhere Man. But gradually he moved on to more serious lyrics inspired by the ballads of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and soon developed a unique style of his own, that was truly Bengali in its core, although universal in its appeal. The style is more reminiscent of the jazz, blues and rock and roll. Dutta was also inspired by eminent western singers like Don McLean, Donovan, John Denver and Paul Simon.

Anjan Dutta belonged to an era of pre-discoth que, pre-lounge-bar Bengalis who were slowly turning on their discmans as the ubiquitous radios started their journeys to oblivion. As like the oeuvre of Suman Chatterjee, Anjan's songs spoke of the middle-class Bengalis and their dreams, aspirations, their fulfillments and failures without being too sermonizing or too sighing. He can be credited with giving rise to a new generation of urban Calcuttan youth who learned to thrive and prosper in the wistful mediocrities of lost or unrequited love, temporary unemployment, breaking of dreams, hearts, hearths or even the first kiss or the first swig of rum.

According to him, his music can be categorized as 'urban folk'. But in broad spectrum, it falls under modern Bengali popular music. The mood also keeps changing. For example Duto Manush (Two human beings) speaks of the break-up of a couple after a violent clash,Bondhu (Friend) revolves around a theme of refusal to a love proposal, whereas Shunte ki Chao(Do you really want to know?) or Neel deals with the mourning of lost innocence of childhood. Kolkata-16 which is basically an address in the Park Street region of Kolkata is a tribute to that street which is so intimately related to little pieces of joy and sorrow of the singer's life. He has also dealt with current matters in his songs like the brutal killing of fundamentalist Christian Missionary Graham Staines and his children in a remote district of Orissa (West Bengal's neighboring province).The song Sokal (Morning) depicts the empty materialism of modern lifestyle whereas songs like Kanchan and Darjeeling are tributes to his childhood spent in the Himalayan foothills. His two most favorite themes are the guitar and the rugged face of Kolkata, which returns recurring in many of his songs. This varying choice of themes combined with an eclectic unique style, made him one of the three cult figures of post-nineties era in Bengali popular music, besides Suman and Nachiketa.

It is worth mentioning that Anjan Dutta has an ardent fan-following especially within college and university students and young urbanites and he maintains a steady popularity within his selected audience. His other works includes "Priyo Bandhu" (Best Friend), a voice play performed with Nima Rehman. He has also done a few English compilations like Bandra Blues. When all Indians were feeling proud about A R Rahaman at winning historic two oscars he is one of the critical persons who raised his voice by saying that this has nothing to do with India as it being purely a foreign movie.


1994 Shunte Ki Chao

  • 2441139 (5:12)
  • Akash Bhora (6:17)
  • Alibaba (2:32)
  • Boshe Achhi Istishanay (4:22)
  • Darjeeling (4:35)
  • Horipado (4:21)
  • Mon Amar (4:13)
  • Ranjana (3:57)
  • Shunte ki Chao? (5:34)
  • Tumi na Thakle (2:36)
  • TV Dekhona (3:45)

1995 Purono Guitar

  • Brishti (4:36)
  • Calcium (3:21)
  • Duto Manush (2:27)
  • Jachhe Chole (3:44)
  • Mary Anne (3:56)
  • Purono Guitar (4:32)
  • Raju Rani Rambo (4:25)
  • Roma (4:08)
  • Samson (8:20)
  • Tumi Ashbe Bole (5:08)

1996 Bhalobashi Tomay

  • Bhalobashi Tomay (3:19)
  • Bhengchi Kete Dyakh (3:04)
  • Bobby Roy (6:38)
  • Das Cabin (4:42)
  • Debolina (4:09)
  • Ghawr (3:34)
  • Mala (4:31)
  • Masher Prothom Din (3:54)
  • Raja Ray (5:20)
  • Shesh Bole Kichhu Nei (4:46)

1997 Keu Gaan Gaye

  • Bob Dylan-r gaan (4:50)
  • Boyesh Amar Baro (3:36)
  • Chyapta Golap (4:42)
  • Firey Ashbo (4:40)
  • Kanchan (6:33)
  • Keu Gaan Gaye (4:33)
  • Mr. Hall (5:40)
  • Mrs. Mukherjee (4:58)
  • Niye Ja (5:54)
  • Odhbhut Bhalo Lokta (4:59)

1998 Ma

  • 54-A AJC Bose Road (5:22)
  • Bhalobasha (4:32)
  • My Sweet Mother (5:26)
  • Teresa (3:40)

1998 Chalo Bodlai

  • Bhaloi Achhi (2:49)
  • Chalo Bodlai (4:32)
  • Dushtu Gaan (4:49)
  • Gaanola (2:16) (with Abhisekh Mukherjee)
  • Jermy-r Behala (6:05)
  • Jhogra (4:20)
  • Kuasha (3:56)
  • Parini (2:26)
  • Ponerote Atkey (4:56)
  • Sesh Gachh (4:18)
  • Sunshine (4:54)
  • Tumi Dekhechho ki? (4:35)

1998 Priyo Bandhu

  • Priyo Bandhu (48:41) (with Nima Rehman & Parashpathar)

1999 Hello Bangladesh

  • Amar Gaan (6:39)
  • Baner Jawle (4:49)
  • Chhader Gaan (4:30)
  • Chowkh Duto (3:22)
  • Dekhechhi Tomay (6:16)
  • Dhaka 1215 (3:04)
  • Hello Bangladesh (6:14)
  • Lucky Akhand (4:52)
  • Neela (4:49)
  • Pahari Gaan (3:31)
  • Passport Lagena (4:52)
  • Tomar Jonyo (4:53)

1999 Kolkata-16

  • Amar Janla (3:35)
  • Bandhu Tomar (4:25)
  • Ekdin Brishtite (4:48)
  • Ekje Chhilo Ghora (5:37)
  • Half chocolate (4:02)
  • Jaar Ekta Naam (3:47)
  • Jete Hobe (4:09)
  • Kolkata-16 (4:41)
  • La Paloma Johnny (4:22)
  • Sokalbelar Khide (5:07)

2000 Bandra Blues

  • Ali Baba (3:26)
  • Bandra Blues (4:52)
  • Come a Song (4:10)
  • Daily Diet (6:28)
  • Hashmi and Being Free (5:34)
  • Love is an 8-Lettered Word (3:49)
  • Middle Man (4:14)
  • Mizo Boy (4:43)
  • Mr. Brown (5:31)
  • Two People (3:23)

2000 Asamoy

  • Asamoy (5:03)
  • Chalshe (4:05)
  • Chhotoder Chhotto Gaan (1:42)
  • Chowkher Jowl Kinba Pani (5:23)
  • Darjeeling (2) (3:46)
  • Happy Birthday (5:10)
  • Kawto Sikkha (3:36)
  • Khyapa Sahor (5:29)
  • Neel (5:11)
  • Shitkaaler Chithi (4:33)

2001 Rawng Pencil

  • Baroder Byapar (1:25)
  • Chhoto Baksho (2:50)
  • Darjeeling-r Rastay (4:17)
  • Jalapaharer Daake (5:02)
  • Joyita (3:59)
  • Khata Pencil (4:56)
  • Rawng Pencil (4:01)
  • Rubina Ruparrel (4:09)
  • Sukai Chachar Ishkul (3:59)
  • Where have All the Flowers Gone? (5:34)

2004 Onekdin Por

  • Chheleta (3:02)
  • De Gamma (5:19)
  • Duto Bandhu (2:25) (with Kabir Suman)
  • Gobindo (2:23)
  • Nepali (3:42)
  • Onekdin Por (3:00) (with Kabir Suman)

2005 Ichchhe Korei Eksathe

  • Ar kawto Shantona Debe! (4:19)
  • Bandhur Khnoj (3:39)
  • Ektu Dekhi Kopal Chhnuye (4:01)
  • Ichchhe Kore Eksathe (5:54)
  • Kal Theke Manush Habo (4:13)
  • Klanto Ami (5:15)
  • Sharata Din Manush Dekhi (5:12)
  • Shohure Ghorchhara (5:12)

2007 Abar Pothey Dekha

  • Aakash Dekhte Chai (5:12)
  • Kopal Chhowar Ichchha (4:01)
  • Shantona (4:19)

2007 Ami ar Godot

  • Aami ar Ashbona (3:31)
  • Aami ar Godot (3:34) (with Neel Dutta)
  • Cinema (8:32)
  • Jagoter Baire (6:22)
  • Thakbo Tomar Sathe (7:01)
  • Tomar holo Shuru (4:12) (with Neel Dutta)

Other Songs (1996 2009)

  • Khawar Gaan (3:02) (with Nachiketa Chakravarty & Suman Chattopadhyay)
  • Hotuk Shob Oshundor (1:58) (with Shalini Chatterjee, Shayari Das, Tanushree Haldar & Sreetoma Ghosh)
  • Feludar Gaan (3:04) (with Nachiketa Chakravarty & Suman Chattopadhyay)
  • Freedom (5:37) (with Indrani Sen, Indranil Sen & Others)
  • Sadhinota (4:50) (with Indrani Sen, Indranil Sen & Others)
  • Ekushe Pa (3:57)
  • Bow Barracks Forever! (4:38)
  • Tumi Na thakle (4:25) (with Usha Uthhup)
  • Chalo Let's Go.. (4:43)
  • Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy (4:30) (with Srikanta Acharya & Others)
  • Jedike Rasta (3:45)
  • Tumi Nei Tai (4:07)
  • Kato ki Korar Chhilo (4:32)

On Screen


  • Urochithi (Bengali,2011)
  • Ranjana Ami Ar Asbona (Bengali,2011)
  • Mahanagar @ Kolkata (Bengali, 2010)
  • Madly Bangalee (Bengali, 2009)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)
  • Dekha (2001) .... Sarama's husband
  • Yugant (1995) .... Deepak ... aka What the Sea Said (India: English title)
  • Antareen (1994) .... The Writer ... aka The Confined
  • Shilpi (1993) ... aka The Artist ... aka The Dreamer
  • Sunya Theke Suru (1993) ... aka A Return to Zero (India: English title)
  • City of Joy (1992) .... Dr. Sunil ... aka Cit de la joie, La (France)
  • Mahaprithivi (1992) .... Younger Son ... aka World Within, World Without
  • City of Hope (1991)
  • Ek Din Achanak (1989) (as Anjan Dutta) .... Neeta's boyfriend ... aka Suddenly, One Day
  • Nuit Bengali, La (1988) .... Khokha ... aka Bengali Night
  • Grihajuddha (1982) .... Bijon ... aka Crossroads ... aka The Crossroad
  • Kharij (1982) .... Anjan Sen ... aka The Case Is Closed
  • Chaalchitra (1981) .... Dipu ... aka The Kaleidoscope


  • Ranjana Ami Ar Asbona (Bengali, 2011)
  • Byomkesh Bakshi(Bengali, 2010)
  • Madly Bangalee (Bengali, 2009)
  • Chowrasta: Crossroads of Love (Bengali, 2009)
  • Chalo Let's Go(Bengali, 2008)
  • Bow Barracks Forever(English, 2007)
  • The Bong Connection(English, 2007)
  • Chalo Anjan ... A Travel & Talk Show with celebrities
  • Rudra Sener Diary (Tele Film/Series)
  • Half Chocolate (Tele Serial)
  • Bada Din (Hindi, 1997)
  • Kanchanjangha (Telefilm)

He has finished his new Hindi feature film "BBD" featuring Naseeruddin Shah, K K Menon, Jimmy Shergill, Sandhya Mridul and Sonali Kulkarni.

External links


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