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Shutdown Stories: His long-neglected piano helps Prabuddha Banerjee take his mind off the pandemic


The music composer, a reclusive person in any case, is also performing the household chores now with the help on leave.

Roushni Sarkar

While many struggle to stay indoors during the 21-day countrywide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease) pandemic, composer Prabuddha Banerjee, a reclusive person in any case, is finding it easier to cope, as he usually prefers to work from home and visits his studio only for a few days in a month.

With film and web-series shoots suspended, some artistes are making the most of the break and spending time with family or investing in improving their skills, something they could not pay attention to earlier on account of their busy schedules. But Banerjee, music composer for films like Nagarkirtan (2019), Konttho (2019), Jyeshthoputro (2019) and Surjo Prithibir Charidike Ghore (2020), has not seen any drastic change in his routine.

“I generally live a reclusive life doing my music, reading books, watching films, etc," Banerjee told Cinestaan.com. "However, I am getting less time for these activities these days as I also have to do a lot of household chores, since our domestic help have been granted leave.”

Banerjee has seven films lined up, of which two have already been shot while shooting for the rest has been postponed. “I don’t know, maybe because of constantly getting exposed to various statistics of speed curves and flattening of curves, I have not been able to concentrate on my professional work," Banerjee confessed. "I am having difficulty composing music for films at this moment.”

However, in this depressing scenario, the piano has become a refuge for Banerjee. “If one plays several instruments, then as it is one gives less time to each," said the musician who is also a proficient guitarist. "Also, most of the time I invest into music direction and composition and hence hardly get the time to practise instruments. The piano was lying neglected for long and so I am spending considerable time in practice now.

“A lot of people are feeling claustrophobic for being unable to get out of the house. That is not my case. All of us are worried and I know a dangerous recession is going to hit us very soon. It’s not as if after 15 April, everything will be fine; so, we don’t know how long this lockdown will extend. But the morbid news from all over the world definitely creates stress,” said Banerjee who believes this is an unprecedented experience not just for his generation and the next but also for the previous couple of generations.

However, Banerjee is also a believer that everything comes in cycles and in this phase playing the piano has been therapeutic for him, as he invests time listening to Western classical music or learning to play a new song, besides washing the utensils and cleaning the kitchen. “It is not about merely playing the piano, rather it has become a spiritual exercise for me,” he said.

Banerjee has recently been playing 'Lullabye' by Billy Joel on the piano. “I have heard the song with concentration before but did not get into the nitty-gritty of it," he said. "I could figure out the inspirations he drew from Frederic Chopin’s work while composing the song, especially in the interlude. These discoveries are fascinating and can keep you engaged for an entire afternoon. As I listened to the song with more leisure, my listening experience and long association with Western classical music could help me understand how beautiful the influence of the classical musician has been on the piano virtuoso [Joel].”

Banerjee has also been planning to read a lot of books and watching series on Netflix but says he has been unable to concentrate on anything apart from the piano.

However, the bond among his classmates has become stronger in the past few days. “I am socializing a lot these days," he remarked, all virtual of course. "We have a group of the alumni of the mechanical engineering department of Jadavpur University. Friends from all over the world are in this group. We often do group video calls these days. In fact, my WhatsApp activities have increased a lot. It is not that I spend the entire day on it, but in terms of my personal experience, it has increased a lot.”

The artiste said he believes in staying positive, despite being aware of the reality of the grave situation outside and knowing that the worst may be yet to come.

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