Music in the time of corona: Kolkata cops kill it

Let us spread a little hope in these dark days of corona hoping that it touches our readers in its own small way. This is all about the Kolkata police which is painting the town pink by singing songs to entertain the residents spread across the city through their lovely songs, selected and sometimes, parodied with care to suit the situation.

Everyday, different parts of Kolkata from Gariahat to Elliot Road to the suburban Khardah, Rabindra Sarobar area and many other corners cheerful members of different police stations have formed teams to lighten the ambience among people forced to remain indoors during the longest lock down the country has ever witnessed.

The video clips are there for everyone to watch through video clips on social media sites and also on the Kolkata Police’s own facebook page which does not delete the attacks by the visitors who keep complaining about the misbehaviour of the police in different occasions before and during the lockdown.

This morning, I chanced on such a group of police singing “We shall overcome” is some corner of the city wearing their uniforms, masks covering much of their faces, holding their microphones with small loudspeakers and their friends clapping to the singing of their leader, more often, a very good singer than a bad one.

They also parodied a very famous song from Satyajit Ray’s film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne hey also parodied a very famous song by changing the lyrics that appealed to the subjects to refrain from war in the film with a plea to residents not to step out of their homes during the pandemic.

They also twisted the lyrics of some famous Hindi film numbers. If one group represented the Kolkata Police, another represented the Traffic Police of the Police department and the residents, leaning out of their balconies, sometimes joined in with claps and cheers. The police personnel are also maintaining social distancing by standing quite at a distance from one another.

 

These videos not only are a relief for the listeners forced into self-quarantine but also works as a wonderful stress-buster for the police teams themselves, trapped as they are in a duty they have never encountered before. Another famous song by music icon Anjan Dutt that goes Bela Bose is also being belted out with a twist in the lyrics. By April 5, the video clips had already garnered over 24 K hits with viewers showing praise on this innovative and musical entertainment offered by the police who we discovered, have some wonderful singers among their staff.

One clip showed the police within one station practising a dance number composed to show how to wash hands, wear gloves and masks and why on the tunes of a song they themselves composed for the occasion.

Some distance away, the police staff of Mayapur that houses the head quarters of the ISKCON in India, police personnel dressed in costumes and make-up of great spiritual leaders and Gods such as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Lord Krishna to approach the residents in the city of Mayapur and urge them to follow the three main rules during corona – washing hands every twenty minutes, social distancing even within the home and not to step out of the house. These hidden talents among the police have come out very unexpectedly during this traumatic period in the history of the Indian police force in general and Kolkata in particular.

The police in India is always written about very negatively and held to be corrupt, cruel, oppressive and sometimes, inhuman. Will these performances along with their regular duty, perhaps change these negative notions about the police?

First published in The Citizen.