It’s a bit of a wild trip at night. The show is called Songs of Comfort for Hypochondriacs and Panicking Lovers and airs Saturdays from around midnight on Radio Quarantine Kolkata.
You don’t know what you’ll encounter when you log in. The episode “Burnt out ballads” begins with American commentator Fran Lebowitz saying New York was better off in the 70s, not just because she was in her twenties. It was less boring. “Plus, you could smoke. Next Motown legend Marvin Gaye stirs the soul with Right On, a frequent listener is desired on his birthday by Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, “et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,” a phrase that seems to have a special resonance, and the birthday music culminates in Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki’s Come Closer, an 80s Mithun Chakraborty revenge classic. The scorching number was composed by Bappi Lahiri and sung by Salma Agha, who was also the actor of the film, trying to seduce with a sailor suit. What the night can reveal.
A haunting jazz piece by Dexter Gordon is soon followed by a reading of an essay by Gandhi on the Jews in Palestine, then Gandhi’s Filhos sung by Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil with a request to enjoy the song and “f *** Israel! “
The voice that creates this chaos, which is followed by dedicated fans and is quite satisfying, belongs to RJ Bishakto Chochchori, whose slow, curvy but chuckling voice does his part for the show. Songs of Comfort, which just aired its fiftieth episode, is its show. Bishakto means toxic and chochchori is another untranslatable Bengali word, meaning roughly a mishmash of vegetables. During the day, Bishakto Chochchori is called Sudipto Sanyal, 37, scholar and writer, with a doctorate. from Bowling Green State University on “The Poetics of the Addicted Narrative: Drugs, Detection, Denouement.” But very passionate about music and a fan of the Frasier show, which talks about a radio psychotherapist, he had always had a small desire to have his own radio show.
So when Radio Quarantine Kolkata asked Sanyal to start a show, he readily agreed. The radio (https://www.facebook.com/RadioQuarantineKolkata/) was established in March 2020 as a zero budget internet radio by a group of filmmakers, teachers and activists with the aim of creating a sense of unit against isolation forced by confinement. “Ekaki theko na asamaye” is the message of the radio. It offers a range of programming, conversations, readings, music and a children’s segment, and is also a platform against communitization policies, in particular the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens. (NRC), which the Center pressed during the pandemic.
“For Radio Quarantine, my only condition was that my show be at midnight,” Sanyal explains. The first episode of Songs of Comfort aired just days after Radio Quarantine Kolkata debuted.
A poster for an episode of the series
The name of the show was simple. “At that time, people were terrified and my partner and I were discussing how lucky we were to live close to each other. Hence the hypochondriacs and panicked lovers, but of course the show is also open to insomniacs and simply lonely people everywhere. And although he plays cutting edge music from all over the world, Sanyal manages to keep his show non-esoteric and unpretentious, and a lot of fun for every listener.
Bishakto Chochchori was a name borrowed from the Calcutta Quiz Circuit, of which he was a part both as a student of the Calcutta Boys’ School and the English Department at Jadavpur University, Calcutta,
“I chose midnight because fewer people would be awake by that time,” Sanyal explains. He is hardly visible on social networks because he is against “surveillance capitalism”. He likes his limited virtual presence and doesn’t upload too many recordings of the show online for another reason. “I like that people listen to the program in real time,” he says. “It becomes an evening of diffuse listening.” He is aware that some people listen to him, in remote parts of the world, including Hawaii, but he doesn’t know how much, or exactly how popular his show is, and it doesn’t matter. “As long as a person is listening, I’m happy,” he says. He is also happy if someone falls asleep while listening to music. So the music did its job; he brought sleep.
“I do what I want,” says Sanyal. Each episode is pre-recorded, sometimes a few minutes before the finish, sometimes even a few minutes late, which creates “a kind of anti-professional elasticity”. An episode can go on for as long as they want, which is usually around three hours. “But the fiftieth episode lasted nearly six hours,” he laughs. He once played a song, Les Amis de François de Roubaix, eight times in an episode. Each episode is built around a theme, such as food, watch, water, or dreams, but only loosely, and is accompanied by a brilliant and artful pop-art poster designed by Sanyal himself. . “I didn’t generally do genres as themes, except in Episode 49, which was on Doo Wop.” It’s his favorite episode.
He particularly reacts to music with “transcultural sounds, rather than pure folk music”. He loves jazz and tries not to overdo it, electro, especially early electro, psychedelic. And he’s working on getting the music everywhere. So expect Habibi funk, Vietnamese hip hop, Japanese pop and loads of music from Brazil, Sanyal’s favorite place, “for football, jazz, music and resistance”.
“Rebellion is attractive,” he said. Especially when you add music to it, music that has soul, and that doesn’t just mean the genre.
And all of this is welcome at midnight, which can be the hour of desertion, which beautiful women in glass slippers also know. We are also expecting Lovers, Night Lovers from Bappi Lahiri.