Papimona’s Bohemian moon rhapsody!

Papimona's-BohemianFrom a distance, he looked a lot like Bob Marley – the trademark long fluffy hair, the antics with the guitar and, the simple attire made him different to most fashion conscious musicians.
Under the soft moon beam, he danced while playing the guitar, someone in the shadows sat on a Cajon drum providing a magical beat.
The song in question turned the soft rain drenched late evening into a surreal sensation: Chaader niche harai ami chaader niche harai/ buk pocket e tomae rekhe, tomae khuje berai…..(I lose myself under the moon beam all the time, look for you though you are here in my pocket, next to my heart, true love of mine).
I stopped to listen and the singer swayed towards me. The next number was even more engrossing: raastae koto shostae jibon katano jae (How cheaply can one survive on the roads).
Intrigued, I motioned to him to have a chat after he was done with the song, which was a sort of melodious appeal to the mechanised residents of this city to come out of the shell of material decadence and, be a little human.
Later, as we sat under a bright post rain fresh sky, he told me that though his parents named him Jainal Abdin, as a musician, he chooses to be called Papimona or, ‘Sinner heart’ in English.
So, why such a name? Obviously, it will raise eyebrows and make people take notice but our singer is a philosopher by heart.
No, not the complex type who twists life’s meaning, leaving most people baffled.
Abdin or Papi, as I will refer to him henceforth, makes a fusion between rock, folk and spiritual music. He is not the mainstream pop style copycat – he has a trend of his own which is piercing, outspoken, haunting yet melancholic.
The underlying theme of his songs – compassion, love, nature and hope.
The name, Papi came to him one day as he was wandering about Dhaka at night. It suddenly dawned on him that humans, despite their best efforts to be virtuous, cannot leave out the vice or the sin.
So, Papi feels he is a sinner at heart. The absolution comes of course from music and the dream that he weaves with his poignant lyrics.
When musicians prefer an air tight room for practice, for this music maker, and his fellow sinners, the open field of Dhaka University gym under a star lit or, a rain wet sky, is the grand rehearsal pad.
‘Here, I can absorb purity from clouds, mystery from the moon and forgotten rhapsody from the tranquil surrounding.
His band has six members: Babu Bobs, Salman, Forhad , Nayem , Ariena , Jainal Abdin ( Papi Mona ) and Rony Bangladesh.
Papi’s entrance into music was through none other than the pop rock guru Azam Khan, a friend of his grandfather.
No wonder that as tribute to the late pop legend he sang for us the Azam Khan piece: hoitoba eidin, thakbe na chirodin (this day won’t last forever).
Talking about choosing a life and career in music, the singer observed: society’s template of growing up never appealed to me so I discarded education at university for education from the world.
Was that a practical thing to do?
Well, I never thought in material terms, added Papi.
‘I know, in the conventional sense, this may be the life of a vagabond.’
But vagabonds with a guitar and a group of like-minded friends can also find a place in society, he justifies.
Well, in purely material terms, Papi has had several albums released, has recently sung a youth inspiration number being promoted by a leading mobile phone company, which also promises to bring an income.
A Bohemian but not a rudderless one! And certainly not a failure.
His number ‘Bhool’ (mistake) from the first album, Chaader Nichey Darai (Let’s stand under the moon) is a hit and the psychedelic music video of the song, an engrossing creation of composer Aabid Rony, is already a YouTube sensation.
The band is now working on several numbers with the most notable piece being an appeal to all in the city to develop fellow feelings.
‘The concept of this song came from the street side addas around Dhaka University campus,’ said the singer and added: I found that people of all classes congregated here to chat but while each person was immersed in his/her thoughts, the desire to help the other fellow in the same group, traumatised by some personal disappointment or tragedy, was absent.
No man is an island, every man is a part of the continent – I found William Blake resonated in Papi’s observation.
Also, Bhupen Hazarika’s famous line from a 70’s song: Manush Manusher Jonno…Jibon Jiboner Jonno….was reflected in the Nagorik number of this young compassionate musician.
As a person who has made music his profession, obsession plus motivation, there have been grim moments when Papi had to be brought down from his realm of idealism to face ugly reality.
‘The most serious problem in Bangladesh is music companies do not pay artistes on time and, even if they do pay a fraction of the agreed payment, one has to face an ordeal to realise the rest.’
On several occasions, I had to face the ignominy of bounced cheques, laments the singer.
Papi plus his band members feel that the government must have a clear cut policy aimed at ensuring that musicians are not deceived or taken for a ride.
Refreshingly, the unsavoury side of reality never discouraged the city Bohemian and his fellow eccentrics.
They love to be a little mad, after all, what is the use of singing to the moon, if one cannot kick out the repulsive side of life?
I see the philosophy now and, as a writer, simply adore it!
As Papi goes back to his group, a loud cheer greets him; the Cajon player, a master on the box, begins to raise a beat, the other guitar strums into action, the moon shoots out of the clouds and, for a few moments I decide to show the middle finger to calculated living and predatory corporate skullduggery.
What is the name of your band, Papi, I ask as he dives into music mode.
No name as yet, bhai…he responds, call us what you like…….
So, for the time being I shall call them……Chaader Jadukor or, in English, The Moon Magicians…….=
Comments: towheedf@yahoo.co.uk