Ramkumar Chatterjee has been a key ingredient for the popularity of Bengali Tappa. Tappa as a significant genre in Bengali musical styles reached its zenith for its lyrical content as well as renditions, arguably unmatched in other parts of India. The Bangla Tappa became hugely popular in the latter half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Bengali Tappa was the genre of choice of the wealthy elite as well as the classes with more modest means. An evolved form of the tappa was the Baithaki format. This bangla Baithaki Gaan evolved under the direct patronage of the Zamindars. This style was always associated with Baithak-Khanas and Jalsaghars literally meant for entertainment.
Ramkumar Chattopadhyay was an expert in this style. He took this format one step ahead by involving witty and dual meaning lyrics mocking the British Raj in a not so straight forward but a rather subtle but pinching manner. A Classic example of his fine sense of humor can be witnessed in one of Ramkumar Chattopadhyay’s most hit song-“Kader Kuler Bou” listed in the above compilation. This was a literal translation meant for an English lady which said, “Madam whose family do you belong to”. Another notable song which became an instant hit after its release was the adaptation of one of the short stories from Aesop’s tale. This is the story about how a bone got stuck in a tiger’s throat and how a clever stork took it out. The song “Ekoda Ek Bagher Golay” became immensely popular. Also there are songs like “Hok Na Kalo” which were more populist and commercial as far as lyrics were concerned and songs like these gave bengali Tappa a huge audience. Such sarcastic lyrical content and brilliant rendition (gayaki) was what made Ramkumar Chatterjee notably the biggest Tappa sensation of all times.
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