Ashim Giri’s full name is Ashim Kumar Bandyopadhyay. He was born in a Corporation
Hospital in Chetla in Kolkata. Sometime in his childhood, his grandma called him by the name
Giri ! Since then his name became Giri. He is known more as Ashim Giri than Ashim
Bandyopadhyay ! His father Kanailal Bandyopadhyay mother Hena Devi.

His grand father Barada Charan Bhuttacharya played the string instrument Esraj and his
mother Hena devi had a very melodious voice. Thus he grew up in a musical atmosphere. But
playing the Harmonium was prohibited as traditionally vocal had to be always accompanied by
Tanpura (An Indian string instrument. All foreign instruments were banned!). That is the cause
for his discomfiture even today.

He passed his schooling from Dhakuria Ramakrishna Vidyapith in Kolkata and joined Ashutosh
College  in 1974. He impressed everyone by clearing the Higher Secondary exam at a very
early age! Poverty at home forced him to take Arts instead of Science in College, but could not
stop his urge to educate himself. He cleared M.A. B.Ed. from prestigious Jadavpur University
and took up a reporter’s job for a brief period. Then he joined an elite English Medium school
of Kolkata as a teacher in Bengali Language.

He was attracted to the political scenario of West Bengal as early as 70’s even though he was
much too young for it ! The bifurcation of the Communist Party (from CPIM to CPIML) confused
him. But soon was fascinated by the radicals and started singing mass movement songs under
Suresh Biswas.

In 1974, the then Prime Minister of India Smt Indira Gandhi declared Internal Emergency. Even
though in his teens, he too courted arrest along with most other opposition leaders and party
workers all over the country. He has been constantly singing for various movements since
1974. His performance from Folk (Baul-Fakir),
Tagore, Nazrul's songs made him a popular
performing artist.

Unfortunately being always a rebel, never put him into the good books of any political party.

In an endeavor to collect rural Folk songs of various movements such as Kanoria, Rajarhat
etc, he got himself dragged into Agrarian politics. He later on met
Suman Chattopadhyay the
famous singer, who now goes by the name
Kabir Suman. Ashim was a constant companion of
Kabir Suman during the Singur Nandigram movement.  

During the Singur Nandigram movement (2006 ~ 2008), He accompanied the leader
Mamata
Bandyopadhyay where ever she went, as the Star Singer of that movement. During Mamata’s
Hunger strike lasting 26 days at Metro Channel, Kolkata, Ashim sang for at least 24 days from
that stage.

We remember that during any meeting of the Singur Nandigram movement, all other
performers, orators, singers etc used to carry out their part before Mamata stood up to speak.
During the course of her speech she would ask Ashim to sing a song! Ashim would then take
the mike and sing to a thunderous applause! After that Mamata would speak again and
conclude the program. Such had become the protocol of that movement!  

Those who were the opposition then, are now the ruling party! But we do not see Ashim Giri
any more in their programmes! As if he has suddenly become an untouchable ! Many of the
singers and performers that we see on the Ruling party sponsored programmes are those
people who were comfortably making money through their sycophancy of the previous ruling
party! Many of them were signatories to general declarations in Ganashakti, the mouthpiece of
CPI(M) and left minded papers like Aajkaal, thereby expressing their solidarity with the govt of
that time! Some of them even went on to condemn the Singur Nandigram movement and their
leader
Mamata Banerjee. (Click here to read some
of
those declarations and their signatories!)  

Well, getting all these spineless, greedy and sycophant turncoats and cats-on-fences on
board is nothing bad. In fact that shows how generous Mamata Banerjee is! But that is
not what we are asking! We simply want know what was wrong with the likes of singers like
Kabir Suman, Ashim Giri, Debashis Roy and many others who joined the movement in return
for nothing? Why were they so unceremoniously and quickly forgotten ?  Is it a disqualification
to be honest and not seek any obvious rewards? Is it a disqualification to maintain one’s
freedom of thought and expression and still be a part of a movement? Is it a disqualification to
speak out when you see blatant misuse of the trust and love the people have showered upon
the movement? Why did they have to stop people from playing their songs by telling people to
play only
Rabindra Sangeet ? What was wrong with the songs they were singing? Were they
anti national? Were they inciting communal disharmony? Many of these songs even were in
the praise of the movement, and Mamata herself.

By this order of playing only
Rabindra Sangeet a general Censorship was clamped upon them.
The supporters of the movement who used to play the songs stopped playing them. Stopping
any song in the pretext of playing some other type of song is very unethical and immoral form
of censorship.

No where in the history of mankind do we come across a situation where the songs, poetry,
literature that came out of a movement was shunned and forcibly stopped by the same people
after coming in to power.  

Ashim Giri is such a character who even inspired novelists like
Manik Mandal to write novels
which had his character. In fact not one but two of Manik Mandal’s novels “Bhalo Nei” and “Jal
Jomi Jangal” have Ashim in them. Kabir Suman has dedicated his book “Nishaner naam Tapasi
Malik” to Ashim Giri.

Click here to read What Kabir Suman has written about Ashim in his website.

Two of his albums have been published till date. “Nandigram to Megacity” and “Rasta Theke”.
We are grateful and pleased to say that he has permitted us to keep all his songs in our
site for free download.

Click here to go to page of Ashim's Musical Albums.



Source:
An interview with Ashim Giri on 16th September 2011.   
Milansagar’s photographs of  
Singur Nandigram Movement .
Experience, Observation, information of
Milansagar about  Singur Nandigram Movement .
Kabir Suman, Nishaner Naam Tapasi Malik.   
Manik Mandal, Jal Jomi Jangal.


Click here to go to Ashim Giri's Main page of Poems and Songs।   
Go to Kabir Suman's Wesite to read
“My Comrade Ashim   by clicking here.        



Contact the Singer :  Mobile:  +919477212440   




Our email: -
srimilansengupta@yahoo.co.in     

Date of publishing of this page - 09.10.2011



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