'Bulbuli' by Coke Studio Bangla was released on Pahela Boishak earlier this year and the song propelled two of its main vocalists into the mainstream consciousness. However, unbeknown to many, Rituraj and Nandita are actually friends in real life, they have known each other for a decade.
"We met each other back in 2012, and we have occasionally performed together for about ten years," said Rituraj to The Business Standard. "The reach of Coke Studio was huge for us. Many people have gotten to know us through the platform and we could not be more grateful to them."
After the success of Coke Studio Bangla this was the duo's second time performing together, the first was at a private corporate event.
Utsho Sandhya, organised by Utsho Bangladesh, was a fundraiser event for the welfare of underprivileged children. The event featured music recitals by Rituraj and Nandita as well as a dinner for all its guests at the end of the night. All proceeds from the show will be used to aid the children who are educated and raised by Utsho Bangladesh.
Srabanti Datta, who has been a member of Utsho Bangladesh for the past 15 years and is presently a member of its executive committee and board, said, "When my first son was born, I wanted to work with a local organisation to help the underprivileged children in Bangladesh. When I found out about Utsho, I was mesmerised by their humility. They had been doing this since 1993, and they did everything so passionately."
Utsho Bangladesh is a non-profit voluntary organisation that works to improve the lives, basic education, and life skills of underprivileged and marginalised children in Bangladesh. They are majorly supported by endowments from local families, individuals or corporate businesses, voluntary contributions, various local resources and Utsho's own sustainability programmes.
"We have been organising annual fundraisers for the past couple of years. But we could not have these events throughout the pandemic. Whenever we organise a fundraiser, we always get a great response from the members of the society as well as the corporates. We even make friends from these events who continue to show their love for our organisation throughout the years," she added.
Utsho Sandhya was hosted at a small banquet hall in Gulshan one. It was a modest setup with no indicators that a show was taking place inside. However, you would definitely know something big was going down from the sea of cars trying to find parking spots outside of the venue.
The duo mesmerised the audience with their renditions of timeless Bangla classics and modern Bangla songs. Even though Rituraj looks like a rockstar from the outside, his heart lies with Nazrul Sangeet and classical Bangla music.
"We don't usually get an audience like we did tonight, as a result we don't normally get to perform many of the songs which we have attempted," said Nandita.
"We got to perform the kind of music we truly love. Our music taste was very compatible with our audience and it was an amazing experience," added Rituraj.
The musical accompaniment included the guitar, bass, keys, drums, tabla, saxophone and flute, but the highlight of the show was the performances by the two headliners. Rituraj and Nandita's vocals were flawless, and powerful. The two performed solo renditions, as well as in duets.
It was almost a hypnotic experience to see Rituraj sing 'Bulbuli' and Nandita perform 'O Mor Moyna Go' live, and the show concluded with a cover of Lucky Akhond's 'Abar Elo Je Sondha'. Some memorable performances of the night included renditions of 'Bondhua Amar Chokhe Jol Enechhe', 'Alga Koro Go Khopar Baadhon', 'Tokhon Tomar Ekush Bochhor', 'Ami Shunechi Shedin Tumi' and 'Doley Dodul Doley'.
"Rituraj and Nandita were amazing! Even though they are very young, they are both so passionate about Bangladeshi music. The audience loved them," said Srabanti.
"This was a very special programme for us because I feel like people don't lend a helping hand towards the underprivileged like they used to. Since this was an event to help needy children, we are extremely grateful to be a part of it," said Nandita.
Utsho Sandhya was held at Emmanuelle's Banquet Hall in Gulshan one on Friday, 21 May.