Tripura’s first all-woman band ‘Meghbalika’ on cloud nine after traversing rough roads

By Jayanta Bhattacharya

Agartala, Apr 9: Thirty-two-year-old Moon Saha, a guitarist, was being pressurised by her family members to get married.

However, Saha, who was then 26, wanted to pursue her interest in music and scoured social media for other women who went to music schools.

Finally, in 2017, she could gather five women and started rehearsals for music events, naming the band ‘Meghbalika’ (cloud girl).

“Renowned vocalist Amar Ghosh helped us compose a title song and we began performing shows on the outskirts of Agartala. Gradually, we started gaining popularity,” Saha said.

The group came into prominence after the band was invited by ‘Chhandanir’, a cultural organisation in the state capital, to perform in shows.

Subsequently, they received an invitation to perform for Doordarshan, Akashvani and other programmes.

“We did not have any place for rehearsal. We used to practice in the houses of our members. After coming to know about our problems, Samiran Roy, the editor of a local newspaper, gave us a room in his office for the purpose. That helped us a lot,” she said.

The band then had only a guitar and a harmonium. While performing at a programme organised by ONGC, the oil company donated a set of drums.

By 2023, the band has become well-known across the tiny northeastern state and performed in many shows, especially in college programmes and during Durga Puja organised by local clubs.

The band, which has now grown to 10 members between the age group of 16-32 years, has also performed in Santiniketan in West Bengal.

“Renowned Rabindra Sangeet artiste Mohan Singh Khandora, who was present there, appreciated us,” lyricist Ankita Roy said.

Some of the band members are students while Roy has a government job and Saha gives guitar tuitions.

“We now have a dream of establishing a music institution where elderly people, besides youngsters, get to learn music at a minimal expense. We have come across many elderly people who could not chase their dreams due to monetary constraints or other barriers,” she said.

Amar Ghosh, when contacted, said the band performs well on Bollywood songs, Rabindra Sangeet, Bengali folk songs and Baul songs of Lalon Shah.

“They have composed their own songs, which we hope they would do more,” he said.

Other members of the band include Ananya Sarkar (lead vocalist), Debjani Nandi (vocalist), Mamon Debnath (flautist), Jyotishree Chakraborty (keyboard), Portia Chowdhury (keyboard), Dishari Saha and Soniya De (drums and tabla) and Sharmistha Sarkar (keyboard). Some of the members are trained while others are self-taught.