“Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo rey…korbo lorbo rey…jeetbo rey…jeetbo rey…aami Kolkata…We Rule!!”
“We will win at any cost, we will fight and we will win! We are Kolkata, we Rule! ”
This theme song of the Kolkata Knight Riders(KKR) is sort of self explanatory about the passion and never say die attitude that a Bengali carries with himself ,wearing his heart on his sleeves as he walks and this is what makes him special, what sets him apart from everyone else. And it’s no coincidence that the man who symbolizes passion and excitement in India is the owner of KKR- Shah Rukh Khan.
The Oxford dictionary says that the word passion means a sudden and strong outburst of emotion, but for Bengali’s it’s a way of life. Every Bengali who does something, however minuscule, does it with passion. Be it sport, be it politics, be it food, music, cinema or for that matter be it an ordinary day in the life of a Bengali- whatever a Bengali pursues he does it with passion and a lot of commitment! He lives life to the fullest, without doubt and regret! Passion is what drives them ahead at times bursting out of its state of dormancy and changing the person completely.
Numerous examples can be found when looking for passion within a Bengali. Take a football match between two of the biggest teams in Bengal- East Bengal versus Mohun Bagan and one will know what I mean. The Salt Lake stadium is filled chock- a- bloc with people in team colors- painted faces, banners, flags, a readiness to pick up a fight with the rival team supporters but most of all a craze for football is what differentiates them from any other person!
Sourav Ganguly is one of those who has the people of Bengal going gaga over him; after all he is the Dada of West Bengal. I still remember the wild celebrations both in England and Kolkata after Ganguly’s historic win against England in the NatWest series final in 2002. His shirt twirling antics at Lord’s and the streets of Kolkata full of people, jumping, hugging and congratulating each other over the fantastic win. It was a sight to behold! Their passion, at times, borders the limits of craziness- if one day they praise Ganguly for an excellent innings played, a lean patch will turn the same supporters into becoming his harshest critics- but then there are always two sides to a coin!
Food, music and film are three other things which more than just interests the average Bengali or should I more specifically say- Macher Jhol(fish curry), Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. Bengali’s watch “Pather Panchali” and listen to “Rabindra Sangeet” with the same fervor as the yesteryears’. Their passion for a good meal, great music and an old classic remains unsatiated and unfulfilled as ever. And then there are other big names in the film industry who engender this passion- Kajol, Bipasha Basu, Rani Mukherjee and Pradip Sarkar just to name a few.
An article on Kolkata is incomplete without the mention of Mamta Banerjee. She is one who instills a different kind of passion within a Bengali. Whatever she does, she believes in and such is the power of her ideas and passion of belief that it rubs off on the others as well; a perfect example is the Nandi gram issue in Bengal. The passion with which she does her work and the hard work she puts in to achieve her goal is unmatched and admired by the people of Bengal.
But political passion doesn’t always leave you without a twist in the tail. It is but a common sight seeing parties having heated discussions and disagreements that doesn’t bode well for the people of Kolkata- their propensity to call bandhs and hartals, and block the entire city with their insensitive processions and political rallies. This “political passion” is the reason the state has fallen from grace from its heydays.
If even now there are doubts about how passionate a Bengali can be, well I would suggest you to be in Kolkata for a night and witness the atmosphere of its nightlife- its electric! Tantra, Someplace Else, Aqua, Sheesha and Underground are but a few night clubs famous for setting the right mood for the night!
This new passion has changed the outlook of many conventional or orthodox Bengali’s, it has given them the power to compete with the best in the world. It has also grilled in them the never say die attitude and the will to work hard to achieve success; something they lacked earlier!
Somehow this reminds me of the famous lyrics of a Rabindranath Tagore,
“Jodi tor daak shune kyu na aashe tobe ekla cholo re…ekla cholo re!”
“If you call out and no one listens to your call do not be afraid and just keep walking!”
What he basically wanted to say was, if you are passionate about something don’t be afraid to follow your heart even though you find that no one wishes to follow you! Keep walking alone…keep walking alone!