Folk singer Tina Ghoshal talks about being the only woman who raps in Bengali
More than Tagore's songs, it was always the rustic call of folk music that attracted Tina Ghoshal. Responding to the call within, this trained Rabindra Sangeet singer went on a soul-searching journey crisscrossing Bengal, meeting several folk artistes and performing with them. For the past 12 years now, this 31-year-old crooner blessed with an immersive voice has been consistently and quietly building an impressive audience of her own through her renditions.
As someone who loves experimenting, Tina has now emerged as the first female artiste who raps in Bengali. Her first experiment in December last year — fusing the popular folk song Bonomali Tumi with original rap lyrics — went down very well with her fans, giving her over 4.5 million views on YouTube. During the lockdown, she came up with her first original Bengali rap track, Welcome to India — The Migrant RAP that released online on July 14, garnering over 3.17 lakh views so far. Ready with more releases, Tina talks about the road ahead for her. Excerpts:
Did you expect such an overwhelming response for your first original rap song Welcome to India — The Migrant Rap?
Honestly speaking, I was overwhelmed. In all my songs, be it rap or fusion, I have always tried to break the norms to underscore the pressing social issues including misogyny. The sudden declaration of the lockdown with minimal time for preparation had initially caused immense adversity especially for the poor migrant labourers who found themselves stranded without food or shelter. Left with no choice, some of them walked miles to reach home, while several others died of hunger and illness. As an artiste, I have tried to vent out their plight and angst through rap.
Is the Bengali rap community receptive to a sole female rapper?
The rap music community here is scattered across West Bengal and Bangladesh. While my first two rap songs were viewed mostly by the audience from across the border, my latest rap number got more views from here. As a female rapper, I wanted to create a new style of unorthodox rapping in Bengali. At times, I am criticised for not being conventional but we have to take a deep dive and explore the infinite possibilities of any music genre.
Your next rap song is on child rights…
Yes, unfortunately, our country has more than 80 lakh child labourers, who are employed in hazardous sectors. The song was scheduled for a June 12 release but got postponed due to the pandemic. I have plans to release it post Durga Puja.
Any festive songs that you are releasing?
I have been working on two festive songs; one of them being an original composition.
Any other songs that you are working on?
Apart from the rap song and Durga Puja releases, I am working on a few more rap songs concerning some pressing social issues of the present-day society. I am also working on some fusion projects with different genres of world music.
How difficult has it been for Indie musicians like you to survive during the lockdown?
The condition of musicians as a whole is really very discouraging and frightening. Some of us are earning only through recording assignments since live shows are not happening. Until the pandemic is under control and live shows are resumed, things are not going to improve for us.