Brief Cultural Resume
– about the Artist

Prasad Ranjan Das, by profession a renowned Architect, graduated from the Bengal Engineering College and did Master’s Degree from Delhi School of Planning & Architectural (SPA). He has worked in the highest cadre of Architectural Wing of, Govt. of West Bengal.

But this alone says very little about the real person. Architect-Town Planner Prasad Ranjan has nurtured within himself a wonderful dreamer in the pen-name “Ranjan Prasad” who could soar high in versatile creative flights of imagination. Amidst his instruments and devices solving complex geometrical shapes, he composes music, writes poems and lyrics and short stories, experiments with music from various ethnic roots and can play a wide range of musical instruments like Spanish guitar, Dotara, Tenor Banjo, Harmonica, etc. with mellifluous ease. He also sings naturally in a deep melodious voice.

From his college days back in the sixties he was inspired to bring a new dawn in Bengali songs. On his way he received inspiration from Hemango Biswas, Kali Dasgupta, Parimal Dasgupta and many others. Side by side with his busy schedule of an upcoming Architect, he went to the grassroot level in search of elements of folk and country music with a burning passion. On one side of that passion reigned stalwarts of the Western country music like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and John Lenon – the dreamer of one world, and on the other side ruled legendary Lalan Phakir, Hasan Raza and of course Rabindranath and Nazrul along with other great bards and baouls of Bengal. In fact, as one of the pathfinders of the new stream of modern Bengali Music, Ranjan stays engrossed in the joy of creation far from the din and bustle of publicity and gimmicks.

It was more than thirty years ago, when Ranjan first started singing in public his own songs with self accompaniment on guitar and dotara, and by and by on All India Radio and Doordarshan with a striking difference from the average. At this point of time he developed another new dimensions in his repertoire. The then audience of Bengal were quite at home with translation in literature, plays and drama. But Ranjan took a leading venture in adding a new dimensions by translating unforgettable International all time hits that have once rocked the world. All India Radio broadcast some of these outstanding works in his own voice as ‘Transcreations’ in special programmes. Among these works are Jamaica Farewell (Belafonts), Imagine (John Lenon), Joe Hill (Joan Baez), Cettonfields (C.C.R.), Suzanne (Cohen), Little Boxes (Malvyna Reynolds/Pete Seeger), Guantara Mera (Jose Marti), Hard rain gonna fall (Bob Dylan), Brazilian Love Song (Nat King Cole), Take me home country road (John Denver), John Henry (Belafronte) and many others that sometimes surpass the originals in excellence and ecstasy .

Under the pen name of ‘Prasad Phakir’ he has also composed a number of protest songs based on folktune in the back ground of the stormy socio-political situation of Bengal in the early seventies.

In his flight in literature Ranjan has excelled in short stories and poems. Smt. Lila Mazumdar, one of the senior most exponents of Bengali Juvenile literature has openly admitted in the foreword of ‘Mahadeber Bishan’ – a publication of selected stories by Ranjan, that the editorial board of Sandesh (a leading juvenile magazine) which included Satyajit Ray, Nalini Das and herself, was taken aback some years ago after going through the first novelette sent by him and since then his literary works like “Rakhahari – Allarakha” (on communal amity), “Guptadhah”, etc. are popular inclusions in the contemporary Bengali recitation on stage.

Many a time, at a work site after the day’s work, as the evening falls, the Architect-saab is forgotten. Out comes his guitar or dotara and all at once be becomes a part of the men and women who work together with him during the day, singing whole heartedly in chorus around the camp fire as the dark night resonates with intoxicating music.

That is the kind of music Ranjan believes, and he will not compromise on that.

Making Music Long Before Bangla Bands: His tryst with songwriting began in the 1960s when, as a student in the Bengal Engineering Collage, Shibpur, he translated Harry Belafonte’s Jamaica Farewell to Pather Prante – Bengali interpretation that is still covered by many Bangla bands.
– ( HT City, 7 June, 2003)