The song starts with images of what is considered the soul of Kolkata, its famed “Boi Para” with its old and new book shops, and goes on to use prominent news clippings over the past few years, to give a timeline of the authoritarian, divisive and propagandist campaigns by the ruling dispensation. From Demonetisation to CAA-NRC, from the migrant crisis to the Ayodhya verdict, from the Internet blockade in Kashmir to the farmers’ protests, the song illustrates the tragic consequences of decisions inflicted on citizens.
There are iconic images from the City of Joy of the famous Chinese Kali Mandir, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Central library and the Nakhoda Masjid encapsulating the state’s secular cultural heritage and syncretic culture.
Rabindranath Tagore’s much acclaimed book, Raktakarabi (Red Oleander’s) makes its appearance multiple times in the song. First released in 1925 as a play, Tagore strongly advocated the rights of the underprivileged in this play. The main antagonist in the play, the King of Yaksha town wielded absolute power over his subjects and dealt with them in an authoritarian manner. The free-spirited girl Nandini, who stood up to the King and for whom the Red Oleander is a metaphor. Tagore wrote in his epigraph of the play, “Men are men no longer, but numbers”. The play was written at a time when there was a capitalist surge world over, while in India, the revolution for freedom was taking roots. No wonder, the book is used as a symbolic gesture of revolution in this song of resistance.
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