By: Bhairavi Jhaveri
Musician-songwriter Susmit Bose grew up in the glorious retro era
replete with man-on-the-moon frenzy, women's liberation, Palestinian
war and amid the best rock 'n' roll artists of all time. iTALK
chatted him up about the launch of his new album
The "Put on your red shoes baby..." variety of songs was definitely
off Bose's list when he started out as a musician in 1971. His first
album, Winter Baby released with the help of civil society
organisations was centred on child abuse a hush-hush subject for the time.
Just like Dylan, he wanted to use music to send social messages to
listeners. Strumming his guitar and playing the harmonica, the same
instruments Dylan was famous for, Bose sits in his Delhi residence
and tells us how tough Indian musicians have it. "Mainstream
distributors don't support alternative music, so, I have been selling
my music at concerts," says Susmit.
As son of Sunil Bose, a musicologist and classical musician, he grew
up with Indian classical stalwarts like Bhimsen Joshi, Amjad Ali Khan
and Ravi Shankar dropping into his living room every other evening.
"My father expected me to take up classical music.
But, when he sensed my desire to explore Western music, he didn't
want me to be a musician; he didn't think I would able to put the
kind of hard work Hindustani classical training required," he tells
us. Bose grew up at a time influences from Western musicians were
inevitable music careers of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling
Stones, Deep Purple and Cliff Richard, and of course Bob Dylan, were
at their peak.
"I started listening to Bob Dylan, and I was enamoured. He became my
inspiration at 13," gushes Bose. After that, he didn't have an answer
when classical virtuosos like Amjad Ali would ask him, "Why aren't
you doing classical music?"
Bose trained himself in the unique style of urban folk-meets-Bob
Dylan and Woody Guthrie and performed extensively in the country and
around the world in Cuba, Berlin and Canada. "Over the last year, I
have been taken in by the Baul singers of Bengal, so, I try to
incorporate that in my act."
His latest album, Song of the Eternal Universe sees experimental work
with this style. After a break of 23 years, which were devoted to
raising his kids, Bose released his second album in 2006 titled,
Public Issue. In 2007, Be the Change rooted in Gandhian idiocracy and
rights of women and children was released.
Through the journey of his three albums, his style has remained
inspired by Dylan structured while using lyrics pertaining to real
life. And even at 58, no single performance is complete without
classic Dylan covers.
Catch Susmit Bose perform this Friday, May 29 at 6.30 pm at Oxford
bookstore, Apeejay House, 3 Dinshaw Vachcha Road, Churchgate, and at
soul fry casa, Fort at 9.30 pm as he releases his albums and performs
pieces. For more on him, log onto www.susmitbose.com