Celebrating the life of a lesser known music activist


The life of a lesser known social reformer and Indian musician, Susmit Bose who played an important role in initiating urban folk music in India has been documented by Bengal based filmmaker Aneek Chaudhuri. The film, ‘Urban Voice’ is produced by La Artiste Productions and was screened at NFDC Film Bazaar recently. NT BUZZ talks to the director to know more about the documentary-feature


The contribution of those who dealt with social issues, human rights, global peace and non-violence has been incredible. Many have in their own way tried to highlight the wrong, and supported the good in society. One such lesser known personality is social reformer and Indian musician Susmit Bose who has composed songs in protest of the arrest of social reformer, Binayak Sen and who stood against the eveil of child abuse. His life has been captured on a documentary-feature titled Urban Voice by Bengali filmmaker Aneek Chaudhuri. Urban Voice was screened at American Film Market on November 1.

Aneek was motivated to make this film when he was watching something about the death of American folk singer and social activist, Pete Seeger in 2014. “As I was tuning in the channel I found someone who almost looked like Pete Seeger. I was surprised to see a Bengali who spoke fluent English and looked westernised. The genre of music he was playing is very uncommon in our country. This immediately caught my attention and to know more I inquired with my father,” says Aneek who then started intensive research about the singer.

While researching, Aneek came across some interesting facts about Susmit. “I learnt that Susmit had participated in the International Folk Song Festival in Havana, Cuba. He was also among the folk musicians who initiated urban folk music. I met a few music experts in Kolkata and Delhi and they confirmed the same,” says Aneek.

Despite being a resident of India, Susmit composed songs in English for which he has faced heavy criticism. Moreover, he did not get his due as a singer and was even termed as a ‘clone of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger’.

Through this film the director is trying to throw light on the life of this unseen legend. “He is one of those legends who got American country folk music into Indian nerves. Susmit has been unseen all his life even though he has done many things and the sole reason to make this documentary is to acknowledge his works,” says Aneek.

He further adds that we are inspired by many foreign singers but it was only because of Susmit that Indians got to know about urban folk music, though many are still unaware of this genre. “In India, people think that urban folk music is bringing rural folk music into cities and then giving it a fusion of rock, pop, etc. People should be acceptable to new forms of cultural exchange,” says Aneek.

The film has recorded the changes that Susmit faced, changes in Indian urban folk music and more. “It’s about the birth of urban folk music. Urban folk music has not influenced even a per cent of the population as people do not know about it. We are exposed to fusion elements and hence there is ignorance among people when it comes to this genre of music,” says Aneek.

He believes that this documentary-feature is an attempt to make people aware about Susmit, his life and his contribution towards spreading urban folk music in India.