The songs of Gambhira originated among the Hindu community of Maldah in West Bengal, completely in its theme formation. After the creation of Pakistan, Chapai Nawabganj in Rajshahi became the main center of Gambhira songs. With time, Gambhira songs have undergone many changes in terms of theme and style of its presentation. Later, Muslims became the custodians of these songs and made many changes in its form, as it was an integral part of their social life and their culture by the time. Therefore, apart from Rajshahi, Gambhira songs are also popular in Nawabganj and Naogaon.
At present, the main characters in the Gambhira are a maternal grandfather and his grandson. The performance is usually structured as a dialogue between them, interspersed with songs for fluent flow, where the dialogues consists of both prose and poetry. The Gambhira reflects contemporary social problems through witty dialogues, songs, dances and jokes. Sometimes it also reflects a generation contradiction in opinions & choices.
The costumes for this performance are very simple, since both the performers wear lungis. The gray-bearded grandfather wears a mathal i.e. straw hat on his head and holds a stick in his hand, whereas, the grandson wears a torn jersey and has a gamchha, a local checked towel that is tied around his waist.
In the past, Gambhira songs were sung in the measures of ektal, trital, dadra, khemta, kaharba but nowadays, the tunes are more influenced by songs from popular Bangla and Hindi movies in terms of music. The Gambhira songs were made popular by Kutubul Alam, Rakibuddin, Biren Ghosh and Mahbubul Alam of Nawabganj in their regions. They tried to introduce many new subjects and characters as its content with interesting and witty dialogues.
More on West Bengal