I have to write something about someone and I do not know what, to begin with. Honestly, after writing the first sentence I sat back for fifteen minutes and scrolled down the comment section on one of Projjwal’s videos on FNO. Someone had asked him to work on his pronunciation. Another person had asked the previous person to try and speak in Bengali, and soon there were two people commenting on each other over just a song played by just a boy. And the song went as:
“Who is to blame, tell me, love?
Who will we blame for the fire?
Amidst the hatred, we must build love,
And let’s be each other’s desire.”
Amid his ‘paradoxical situations’, Projjwal says that poems and songs are like Horcruxes, you divide your soul in them. He grew up in a family where literature, film, and music were the daily customs. Since the age of five or six, he would play in a toy synthesizer and by the time he was in the sixth standard he was playing the piano. A drift from the Bengali ambiance of music to the Western Classical style took place. Considering himself to be the “worst student”, he would struggle to maintain a balance between his education and music. There would be quite a number of obstacles. After spending four years in CSM, during the fifth year, he faced the changes which lay in front of him. “The society around me was changing. The environment, the education system, my own life they were all going through a drastic change. And then one day, I heard a guy shouting in a nasal tone: ‘the times they are a-changing’.” Projjwal started writing, all in English without a guitar.
He says that he has heard a number of Bob Dylan’s songs. It was something that made sense to him. There was also Cohen’s Book of Longing. He began to see and paint. He took up music as a language, a language speaking in which everyday nourished him. The boy was worried about his future, his country’s future, the education system. The system itself deteriorating. He believes that it all has to be taken back in form. He began to paint through music.
I asked him about his story. He told me several things, “…How can I say, there are so many stories…so many stories…I don’t have my own story…” And so he kept telling me a story to say why a story was being told. And somehow as he narrated and he re-told, I realized that his stories, a lot like his songs, were helping me read my story. Well, that is personal! Maybe, somebody would realize it, somebody would not. And probably, that is also the reason why I listened to Projjwal sing. He sang songs about religious fundamentalism, “Why must I hate that tree,/ For it is loved by someone I hate?” He speaks about love looking at love, as love moves out in a song called Suddenly Tonight. His song These Blanks are a straightforward promise of the void in between existence. Like a Milestone, which he had written two years back, is one where he identifies himself as a milestone. “I live by what I think,” he said, “it is important to think first…” I had to know if he abides by what he says if he would preach. He would sing. “Maybe that’s how, as you said, I would ‘preach’.”
He takes inspiration from Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach; he identifies with Bob Dylan, calling himself a ‘Dylan Freak’; he listens to Irish Folk, Bengali spiritual hymns; he wishes to research on Folk song and connect to people; he remains mindful of the surrounding. He keeps vinyl records of Bob Dylan, Kali Dasgupta, Debabrata Biswas, Benny Goodman, Hank Snow, John Lee Hooker, and many more. You might find in his bookshelf Umberto Eco, Boris Ford, Jack London, W.J.Hemmings, Joyce, Tolstoy, Orwell, and a lot more.
He says that he travels within himself and that he would change with the changing times. “I adorn my age, I may sing the blues./ For time is no poor country, to be conquered.”
I had to write about Projjwal and I did not know what, to begin with. And surely I do not know what to end with. All I can say is that I have barely met a person, a songwriter, a singer, and a boy as him; and yes about his songs…they are always somewhere after just now.