It's jokingly said that Bengalis may forget their own phone numbers but they will never forget Bela Bose's number - 2441139. This is the testament to the popularity of a living legend like Anjan Dutt, who has the “2441139” song to his credit. This man has gifted a huge number of popular songs to the Bengali music industry and it is reflected on May 12 every year when Bengali song lovers remember ‘Mala’ all over Facebook, or sometimes when the fans meet and ask him if Bela Bose, Ranjana, Mala, and Mary Ann were really his girlfriends or not.
In this context, however, Anjan Dutt himself said, “In real life I’ve fallen in love with a lot of women. But in real life, they were not Rama, Ranjana, Mala, Bela Bose, Jayita or Mary Ann! These are the characters of the story. But these people seem to know me a lot. And why only the names of girls? I have sung in the name of many boys! Alibaba and Haripada are very familiar to me. Jeremy and Samson are not familiar, but I have seen them. They are the perception of life."
Real or imaginary, Bengali listeners have kept those characters in mind years after years, sometimes relating them to the real characters in their life. Some search for their teenage girlfriend in Marie Ann, some find their ex-girlfriend in Mala. Somewhere the girl who is going through the age of marriage waiting for her unemployed boyfriend to get a job, may have found Bela Bose in herself; somewhere the girl who has run away from home holding her boyfriend's hands may have found herself in Rama.
Someday the teenage girl who has been irritated by her mother's rule, can find the shadow of Mrs Mukherjee in her mother; and the teenager who has moved away from the love of his early age due to the fear of bullies in the neighbourhood or due to communal pressure, might one day find his frustrated and frightened being in the song Ranjana.
"Rather than a lyricist, composer or singer I prefer to call him [Anjan Dutt] a storyteller," said music lover and musician Shuvodip Bishwas Turja. "Every song is a story, whether you talk about the 'Purono Guitar' or the 'Jeremy'r Behala’, every song has a story of some missing things or emptiness of a bunch of people. However, it should not be thought that Anjan's songs only talk about these senses of life. It's not strange to find social, economic, political, and even global perspectives in Anjan's songs. It's very sad that people these days only focus on the love in Bela Bose song, not on the social or economic issues, whereas those are equally relevant."
Anjan has the eyes that have the capability of seeing the ‘Shishir Bindu’ (dewdrops) on the sheaves of paddy next to the doors rather than the ‘Porbot Mala’ (mountains) or the ‘Shindhu’ (ocean). It's not that easy bringing the life of the middle class with simple words and simple melodies. He made it, which is why Anjan is always relevant to his listeners.
"The first song I heard was probably the 'Purono Guitar’. At that time, I just learned to download songs from my friends while staying at a Bogura medical hostel. There was no android phone. In the crowd of Hindi and rock bands, Anjan seemed to be having a little time of my own! This is how I fell in love with Anjan one day! Haha! Anjan! My Anjan!" said Shourov Biswas Shuvro, a physician, while talking about the 'Anjan habit' of their time. The physician from Ajmiriganj Upazila Health Complex seemed lost in nostalgia while reminiscing of the introductory days with Anjan.
"I don't remember all the feelings then, but after a long day full of schedule, Anjan was a way for me to become myself! Anjan was a tonic no matter how good or bad the mood is, and maybe he will remain for a lifetime.
"Anjan really has a lot of influence in my life. [I] Won't call him the innocent love of my adolescence, he's my matured love! Anjan taught me to listen to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and many more Western classics.”
Anjan Dutt was born on January 19, 1953, in Kolkata. Then, at the age of six, he moved to St. Paul's School in Darjeeling, where he grew up. Anjan Dutt is a versatile talent, a filmmaker, lyricist, singer, actor and journalist. Although all his fame, name and popularity came from his songs, acting has been the focus of his interest since childhood. From that interest, he started doing theatre in school life where he was first seen playing the role of a girl when he was young. He left St. Paul's for family reasons and returned to Kolkata but could not leave the theatre. He also had his own theatre troupe called ‘Open Theater’ and it was through this theatre that he got the opportunity to work in the cinema. Mrinal Sen and Buddhadev Dasgupta saw his theatre and offered him to act in their movies. He made his acting debut in Mrinal Sen's ‘Chalchitra.’ For this performance, he won the Best Newcomer Award at the Venice Film Festival. He later acted in many more movies and even directed some.
Anjan’s first album in the music world, ‘Shunte Ki Chao,’ was released in 1994. Although he started singing in need of money, he didn't have to look back after joining the music industry. His popularity touched the sky with songs like Mala, Amar Janladiye, Bela Bose, Mary Ann, Kanchenjunga, Behala’r Master, Brishtidekhechi, Ekdinbrishtite, or most recent ‘Abosheshe cigarette tumiaamishobai’ Is it really possible to fetch a conclusion to a discussion which is about Anjan? Maybe not.