“The youngest brother among nine kids at home, Babul was playfully roaming about in the railway colony at Danapur. His older siblings were at work and Babul had a holiday. Suddenly his mother called out to him from the house, “Babul, take this tiffin-box. Go and give it to Dad. He’s expected to reach the station in five minutes.” Babul ran. Lalit Mohan Ghosh, Babul’s father, has always been dutiful in his job as a railway guard. Babul fulfilled the task which was entrusted upon him by his mother with cent percent success!”
Forty years later, Protyush Kumar Ghosh, or Babul, has not changed much. He is hyperactive, reaches office before everyone else and gives ‘jadu ka jhappi’ to everyone, including the sweeper in his office. The young Babul of the ’70s, who had fallen in love with Kishore Kumar’s songs, is now the deputy general manager of Kolkata Metro, taking care of the minutest details of the most trusted pathway of the City of Joy.
Ghosh’s childhood days in Danapur were eventful. “I lived there for the first 10 years of my life. Later, after my father retired, we shifted to Patna. But I really miss those days of fun and frolic,” says Ghosh. His early days in Hoskins School were exciting. In Patna High School, too, Protyush was a livewire among friends. After finishing higher studies at Patna and Magadh universities, Ghosh embarked on a new journey.
A master of Bhojpuri, Hindi, English and Bengali, Protyush credits his Bengali skill to ‘Bisakha Madam’ from his schooldays. “I remember, she made drove it home that, as I was the lone Bengali in class, I must lay stress on accuracy in my mother tongue. I’m indebted to her and her lessons did help me excel when the then Union Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee, assigned me the job of PRO of Kolkata Metro,” acknowledges Ghosh.
Although Kolkata was not a new city for Ghosh, it was an uphill task for him as a lower division clerk in the Indian Railways, Sealdah Division. Within months, he became a popular figure for his professional commitment and warmth. He rented a house near Golf Green, where he lived with his elder brother.
From Danapur to Kolkata, Ghosh made sure that he never lost his ‘musical touch’. He remembers, “I lost my father rather early, in the mid-’80s. I still remember the khayals and bhajans my father sang. It had a deep impact on my singing acumen. In fact, in school, I used to remember poems by adding music to them. My mother was so surprised that, one day, she asked me how I managed to do it.”
Singing has never been a hobby, but an intrinsic part of Ghosh’s life. A Krishna devotee, he gives all credit to the Almighty for his singing prowess. “I got my job rather early in life. But I’ve been creative all along. Few people know that I was a newsreader for a short time with the Doordarshan. I also learned singing classical songs in a music class near Sealdah after working hours. My confidence grew and there was no looking back,” he remembers. Even today, he rehearses for two hours every morning!
In 1996, Ghosh was transferred to the Eastern Railway headquarters. Meanwhile, his debut album, ‘Love in Tokyo’, was released with 8 songs and 2010 became a game-changer for him. The Kolkata Metro was in the news for all wrong reasons and Ghosh was summoned to give it a facelift. Ever since then, he has become the face of Kolkata Metro. “I used to read 14 newspapers every morning — quite a task while having breakfast! I was prepared for the worst and, believe me, those years did prepare me to be a true professional,” he confesses.
But let us not forget that Ghosh’s singing prowess is no less than his professional endeavours. Not only has he sung the Metro theme song, but he has also sung two others for Sujoy Ghosh’s cult thriller, Kahaani. His recently released song, ‘Ma Bhaarti’, has become a rage among youngsters — a song dedicated to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack. From bhajans to Hindi songs, Ghosh adapts himself seamlessly. Even today, his colleagues are inspired by his songs. His mantra is simple. To sum it up in his own words, “I believe it all depends on one’s priorities in life. To whatever I’ve done in my life, I’ve given my 200%. I earn my bread and butter through my job, but music gives me solace.” In 2012, he was bestowed upon the National Award for Outstanding Services by the Union Ministry of Railways.
Team Optimist wishes him all the best in his professional and musical endeavours in the coming days.