Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


The Bengali trio who designed the Grammy-winning album of Shakti! – GetBengal story

19 February, 2024 17:23:19
The Bengali trio who designed the Grammy-winning album of Shakti! – GetBengal story

Grammy and Kolkata! The musical Bengalis do have something to be proud of and that too coming from a bunch of Kolkata youngsters. This year’s Grammy-winning Shakti band which won the Grammy for Best Global Music for their album, This Moment, owes its album design to three young creative minds of Kolkata -- Urmi Bhanja, Orko Basu and Mrinalini Sen. Working for the Creative Communications Company ‘Togetherly,’ the trio are all former students of La Martiniere and later Jadavpur University’s Department of English. They joined hands in 2022 when they started designing the album, not anticipating such a big win. But they had it and all for their ‘out-of-the-box’ thought process.

Bhanja told the media: “It feels surreal. I am still processing it,” her happiness is evident in her broad smile. Like many Probashi Bengalis, they are all scattered in different parts of India. While Bhanja lives in Kolkata, Basu is stationed in Bengaluru and Sen in Goa. Sen says: “It was an exhilarating process and we were thoroughly invested in it from start to finish.” Orko however gives the master credit to the musicians who he feels are the ‘real masters and heroes’ in the Grammy win. Despite being scattered all over India, they managed to work together in tandem. The Bengali spirit of struggle and resilience clearly peaks through their actions!

Urmi grew up in New Alipore of South Kolkata and now lives in Golf Green. She runs her own design agency known as Behance, which has designed album covers for many Kolkata bands. But what is so special about the cover of this Grammy album? Bhanja explained: “The bridge on the album cover, which connects two banks of a river under moonlight, is an extended metaphor where the two banks of the rivers are Eastern and Western forms of music, with Shakti acting as the bridge between them.” No wonder, the cover had to stand apart, specially to uplift the mood for a big win. “The art had to make sense of the music. So we thought of bringing in the element of moon that would lend a psychedelic spirit to the album. There are numerous inner eyes in the sky that take you to a spiritual level.” That is indeed surreal.

Orko Basu, now working in Bengaluru, is born and brought up in Kolkata’s Ballygunge. He says, “The credit goes to the musicians. They are such masters. I am proud of them. Their music is enduring and timeless.” His candidness and humility makes him stand out. With his work, he could have easily boasted about his achievements, however, he chose to stay humble throughout, crediting the musicians for their hard work. While Mrinalini, who did her higher studies at the University of Stirling and now lives in Olaulim, a scenic village in North Goa, was also raised in Ballygunge and her parents still live there. She is an educator and a self-taught artist, who moved to Goa five years ago. “All three of us were heavily invested in the entire process from start to finish. It wasn’t just an idea that we sketched out. It was a concept that we built systematically. We tried different things. We did not compromise and the experience was exhilarating.” 

While the trio worked hard on designing the cover of the album, not mentioning another Bengali’s name would be incomplete. And he is Souvik Dutta, another Kolkata boy, from Garia who founded along with his wife Shweta, Abstract Logix, the record label and management agency for Shakti and several other top musicians. He now lives in USA with his wife. Dutta is also the producer of the Grammy-winning album. “For a middle-class Bengali boy who grew up in Kolkata in the ’80s idolizing Shakti, getting a chance in a million to come in touch with John McLaughlin in the early 2000 in USA and being offered opportunity to work with him, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Shakti for 20 years is still very hard for me to grasp. I do pinch myself often. Life has been beautiful,” Dutta told the media.

It is quite refreshing to see Bengalis take the limelight again for their creative work and their achievements. Shakti band has now become the talk of town through their grand victory, however, the people working behind the scenes are often shrouded behind the shadows of the forefront artists and do not receive their due credit. The contribution of such venerated Bengalis has helped Shakti win and it cannot be so easily dismissed. Bengalis are often described to be lazy and weak, however, these Bongs have broken through those stereotypes. Despite working with such famous artists, they still remain humble. Their pride in acknowledging their roots and hometown goes to show how Kolkata has shaped them. Their contribution shows the potential that Bengalis carry within themselves. Their humility highlight their desire to work in the shadows for the progress of mankind and keeping different forms of art alive. 

Leave a Comments

Related Post