Pandemonia at The Most Reputed Music Conference of Kolkata

Dover Lane

Anyone can sing, yes, in last few months of this pandemic, it has been kind of established that anyone can sing. Social media is still free, editing apps are very user friendly and most of it’s features like extreme echo, auto tuning and all are easily available to present your song decently. You just need to have guts, and that’s all.

Everybody sings nowadays and I see no harm in that. But now this incident took place on 13the February,2021, at Kolkata, is alarming. An esteem organisation, which has been organizing the most iconic “Classical Music Conference” for almost last seventy years, cannot afford this foul up.

I oppose trolling absolutely. For last few hours social media has been flooded with memes and disagreeable comments. That is unacceptable. On the other side that we know that he is a great novelist and academician. However that was certainly not the required criteria for a gala performance.

Corruption, lobby, quota,nepotism – these words should be irrelevant, banned, and forbidden from such platforms. As I have said I don’t blame the performer. Performer of any stage wish to perform there one day, across the country, but it is the sheer responsibility of the organisers to bring the best in the country to that platform. For decades we have experienced legendary performances by numerous. angelic maestros.

There are several anecdotes that prove the passion of Kolkata listeners for classical music. In early days people even used to sit on the pavements around the auditorium to listen to maestros like Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Many times they had to come home by foot after the concerts as there was no commute in the midnight or at the dawn. As students we used to sneak peek to many auditoriums to get a chance to listen to Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty’s Gunkeli or Pt Ulhas Kashalkar’s Gaud Malhar with a resold ticket. I am sure you have your story too. This is how the heart of kolkata beats with classical music.

We not only pay a huge amount to get those precious passes, we also wait for months eagerly to get a chance to cherish those moments of listening to the maestros live in those whole night classical conferences, and this is what we experience!

Well, this is not the first experience of disappointment for the listeners there. This has been happening there for last few years actually, but this one was probably the last nail on the coffin. It’s high time for the most reputed brand, in this field to realise their mistake. It’s high time that they bring back their legacy.

There are many more classical conferences taking place in our city of joy. Some with lesser known brand name or no brand name at all. Music happens there. In our country and even in our city there are thousands of artists who mesmerizes the audience with their heart to heart performances. They do deserve a better platform like this. Because listeners of Kolkata still cheers for true musicians. That is why artists through out India seek a chance to perform in this city still now. The organisers of this very conference must remember that many people still do not consider their participation in those conferences as their status symbol, it’s not only about taking selfie in front of that banner, for some it’s still not only an exhibition of niche jewelries, or kurtas or pure silk. They must remember that still there are people, who goes to such conferences not to consume fish kabiraji or mutton biriyani like midnight of Durgapuja, but to seek peace of mind in soul wrenching music devine. May the music prevail.

P.C: Google

The Kirtan, The Flute, and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiaji – A remembrance on his Birthday

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

Its 1st of July, As the continuation of birthday celebration of maestros, I am here with my humble offering to the pundit who’s name has been synonymous with flute world widely.

Sometimes life treats you with surprises, which you could not even dream of. My Karma score must have been quite a bit higher than my academic scores. The reason is still unknown, but certainly, something has been carry-forwarded, presumably from my past life. This saga is one such treat which I received from a God.  

It took place almost thirteen years back. I was teaching as the music teacher at a reputed senior school of Kolkata at that time. Since then I have been fortunate enough to be associated with Spicmacay.

An afternoon on those gala days I came to know that there is a classical concert organized by Spicmacay, and I must gather our students and attend that concert in that very evening. To my utmost surprise I then came to know that – The living legend, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia ji will be performing there.

There was not much time. Initially, it took me some moments to register and then in jet speed I addressed all my lovely students and convinced them (At least that is what I thought) to go there.

It was a cozy, homely baithaki at the top floor of 6 (?)Hunger Ford Street, Kolkata. I reached there with only a handful of students and there he was, sitting majestically on that tiny stage. Again fortune smiled and I got a chance to sit in the front row. And then within a few minutes, the soulful music started with a long hold Sa. The first presentation of that recital was in Raag Hamsadhwani.

It was not my first exposure to Pt Chaurasiaji’s live music. I experienced that magic many times before that day. But since it was a concert which was conducted to engage, mostly the school students, and give them more exposers to Indian art and culture,  Chaurasiaji’s immense sense of humor started emerging from the interaction session. He played the tune of Jingle bells asked the students to identify that tune. Each and every student identified that very popular Christmas carol immediately. Panditji then divinely played these few lines of that legendary Bhajan–

“Vaishnava Jana To, Tene Kahiye Je
Peed Paraayi Jaane Re,
Para Duhkhe Upakāra Kare To Ye
Mana Abhimāna Na Āne Re
Vaishnava Jana To, Tene Kahiye Je
Peed Paraayi Jaane Re”

There was pin-drop silence in the room which he broke by asking the students to identify that tune, but unfortunately, no students could do that, and thus he started explaining the rich heritage and culture of our own country, which we must explore, through his magical narrations.   

Spellbound, I was waiting there at the end of the concert. I touched his feet, he must have been noticing me sitting there with teary eyes during his performance and to my absolute astonishment, Panditji started asking me about the concert, and also about me. As usually, I started talking gibberish and told Panditji about my passion for Padabali Kirtan and also said that how I wish he could play Kirtan on that baithaki. Panditji was kind of surprised with such a request and said – ‘oh, ok, do one thing on such and such date I am coming to Kolkata again at the science city auditorium, you be there, and I will play Kirtan for you there.”

Almost two months later, that day arrived and I was there at the science city auditorium to listen to the maestro again. He played Raag Durga and then as usually started asking the audience for their choices. Many enthusiastic Kolkata listeners started shouting – ‘dhun dhun’, some said ‘pahari, pahari’ ( Jiya dharak dharak from the film  Kalyug was still hit), and some said “ Banaras Ki Pahari”….. and it went on.

Pt Chaurasiaji then started laughing – ‘arey banaras ki Pahari, banaras  mein pahar kahan hai bhai’ and then came that magical moment of my life. Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the living legend, said that he would like to play Kirtan as he promised that to someone in his last Kolkata visit.

I was certainly not believing my ears and my eyes rather any of my senses at that moment. The swing of that kirtan sustained in my soul.

I am not at all a backstage, or autograph or selfie kind of person. But that day I could not resist myself. I went there and touched his feet without saying a word again with a pair of bleary eyes. He was there, that soulful tune of Kirtan was there and these two verses of Padakarta Chandidas were there in my mind….

  • ajhoro jharae mor nayanero pani, Bnashir shabade borai haraili porani”

Pranam to the maestro on his birthday.

Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

তানসেনের তানপুরা – রহস্যের তালা খুলছে সুরের চাবি

লকডাউনের অনেক ডাউন সাইডের মধ্যে দুটি বড় দিক-

ক) সোশ্যাল মিডিয়া আমার আপনার রাগপ্রকাশের সর্বোচ্চ প্রকাশ মাধ্যম।

খ)  এই প্রকাশ মাধ্যমে প্রশংসা প্রতিষিদ্ধ।নতুন কিছু দেখে, শুনে, পড়ে যদি গলা জড়িয়ে কোঁদুলে সুরে (বে অথবা অ)  নিন্দে মন্দ না করেন তাহলে তফাৎ যান। আপনি ভাই এলেবেলে।

এরকমই এক পরিস্থিতিতে কানে এল আরেক রাগের কথা। যেই রাগের সাথে আমার প্রথম পরিচয় সম্ভবত মায়ের গর্ভাবস্থার সময় থেকে। নানান বর্নময় রূপে,  রাগেদের সাথে দেখা হয়েছে আমার। কিন্তু ভারতীয় রাগ সঙ্গীতের (পড়ুন ভারতীয় সঙ্গীত, এর যেকোনো রূপেই প্রায়, রাগ স্যার বা রাগিণী ম্যামের অবাধ যোগ) সূত্র ধরে রহস্য উন্মোচন – তাও আবার তানসেনের তানপুরার, এই চমক প্রথমবার। এর আগে বাইশে শ্রাবনও  এইভাবেই অবাক করেছিল, ভাবতেই পারিনি যে বাঙলা কবিতা দিয়ে একটা মার্ডার মিস্ট্রির সমাধান করা হচ্ছে। তানসেনের তানপুরার এই অভূতপূর্ব ভাবনাকে আমি সবার আগে স্যালুট জানাই।

এর আগের ব্লগে মাস এবং ক্লাস নিয়ে অনেক আলোচনা হয়েছে তাই সে বিষয়ে বেশী বলতে চাইছিনা। শুধু একটা কথা বলা এক্ষেত্রে খুব গুরুত্বপূর্ণ – যে দুর্ভাগ্যবশত আমরা আমাদের পরম সম্পদ – আমাদের শাস্ত্রীয় সঙ্গীতকে আমরা কেমন বাড়ির বড় কর্তা গিন্নীর মত সযত্নে, ভক্তিভরে একটা গণ্ডি কেটে, তার ভেতর রেখে দিয়েছি। আমাদের নিত্য নৈমিত্তিক জীবনের থেকে একটু যেন দূরে, একটু উপরে। তাকে আমাদের জীবনেরই একটা  অঙ্গ করা হয়ে ওঠেনি বিশেষ। ঠিক যেমন খাপ খায় না ভেবে বাড়ির সবরকম আড্ডায় সবসময় প্রৌঢ়দের অলিখিত প্রবেশ নিষেধ থাকে, অনেকটা সেরকম। সেইরকম আবহে বাঙলায় নায়ক নায়িকা প্রেমের  গান গাইছেন – ‘তবে সে আন্ধারে নিখাদে গান্ধারেকে তাকে প্রাণ ধারে, প্রেয়সী তোমা বিনা  – তাও আবার শুদ্ধ যোগ রাগের এক অনবদ্য অধরবন্ধ  বন্দিশে – এ যেন শুনতে গিয়েও বিশ্বাস হতে চায়না।

তানসেনের তানপুরা ‘হইচই’ এর একটি ওয়েব সিরিজ । সৌমিক চট্টোপাধ্যায় পরিচালিত। এখানে শুধু গান নয়, ছবিও সাহায্য করছে জুড়ে দিতে ‘ জিগ শ পাজল’  গুলো। গল্প অসাধারণ। লোকেশন, অভিনয় প্রশংসাযোগ্য তো বটেই। তবে সিরিজটির  আসল হিরো এর সঙ্গীত বিভাগ।

শ্রীজাতর এই জাতকেরা একেবারেই নতুনরুপে শ্রীযুক্ত।ভবিষ্যতে এরকম আরো বাংলা খেয়াল,  বাংলা ধ্রুপদ, বাংলা  ধামার, বাংলা  ঠুমরীর অনুরোধ, আবদার এবং একনিষ্ঠ পাঠিকা হিসাবে বায়নাও  জুড়ে দিলাম।

এই সিরিজের প্রতিটা মুহূর্তের  পিছনে সুরকার হিসাবে  শ্রী জয় সরকারের ভাবনা – অভাবনীয়। খেয়াল, টপ্পা, কাওয়ালী এই সমস্ত টেবিলের ওপারে রাখা অসামান্য  ধারাগুলোকে – বাঙলায় এবং সর্বোপরি –“মেইন স্ট্রীম” মিউজিকে বড্ড সুন্দর ভাবে সাজিয়েছেন উনি।

জীমূত রায় সবচেয়ে বেশী অবাক করেছেন।  অবিশ্বাস্য রকমের ভালো গেয়েছেন প্রত্যেকটি গান। পিয়ু মুখার্জীর গান সবসময়ই অপূর্ব, তবে এক্ষেত্রে গল্পের খাতিরে হয়েত একটু লো প্রোফাইলে গাইতে হয়েছে  কিন্তু তবু বড় সুন্দর। তবে পণ্ডিত নীহার রঞ্জন বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের গাওয়া নিধুবাবুর টপ্পা, ওনার খানদানী গায়কী, সূক্ষ্ম জমজমার কাজ  মনে করিয়ে দেয় যে কত বছরের নিরন্তর সাধনায় সুর অমন অনায়াসে ধরা দেয় –“অনুগত জনে ….তুমি মারিলে মারিতে পারো” ।

আলাদা করে বাঁশির কথা বলাটা দরকার। আবারো গল্পের খাতিরে হংসধ্বনী পর্বে বাঁশিকে হার মানতে হয় আলাপ, মানে প্রধান নায়কের কণ্ঠসঙ্গীতের কাছে। ঠিক যেভাবে প্রায় আটষট্টি বছর আগে গল্পের তাগিদে বৈজু বাওরা ছবিতে পণ্ডিত ডি ভি  পালুস্কারের মত শিল্পিকেও হেরে যেতে হয়েছিল উস্তাদ আমীর খান সাহেবের কাছে। এখানেও বাঁশি কোন অংশে কণ্ঠসঙ্গীতের চেয়ে এতটুকু কম ছিলনা, আসলে আমার ঠিক উল্টোটাই মনে হচ্ছিল।

খ্রীস্টোফার কলম্বাসের আমেরিকা আবিস্কারের পরেও নাকি  তাকে – ‘এ আর এমন কি ব্যাপার, এ তো যে কেউ করতে পারতো, আরো আগেই করতে পারতো’ ,  – ইত্যাদি প্রভৃতি  দুয়ো  দেওয়া হয়েছিল। এ প্রসঙ্গে একটা মজার গল্প আছে। কলম্বাস নাকি তাদের  হাতে একটি আস্ত ডিম ধরিয়ে বলেন টেবিলের মাঝখানটায় ওটিকে বসিয়ে দিতে । বিস্তর মাথা কান চুলকে সবাই ফেল করায় উনি ডিমটাকে ভেঙ্গে খোলার অর্ধেকটা টেবিলের মাঝে বসিয়ে উঠে যান।

এ গল্পের সত্যাসত্য জানিনা, তবে এখানে কেন এই গল্প বললাম তা নিশ্চয়ই পাঠকেরা বুঝেছেন। এই সিরিজ দেখে এবার প্রথা মেনে হয়েত নিন্দে মন্দ শুরু হবে। আমরা আমাদের ডিগ্রীর গম্ভীর চশমা এঁটে বলে উঠবো – আরে ইয়ে তো বাচ্চোওয়ালী কাম হ্যায়। এ সব তো সবাই জানে।  সা রে গা মা পা র সেদিনের ছেলে ছোকরাদের দিয়ে এইসমস্ত দুরূহ জিনিশ গাওয়ানোর কারণ কি, কারণটা  হল সহজ করে প্রকাণ্ড কিছুর গল্প বলা আমাদের ঠিক ধাতে সয় না। এমন করে ভারতীয় শাস্ত্রীয় সঙ্গীতকে পেশ করতে হবে যা সকলের মাথার ওপর দিয়ে বেরিয়ে যায়। অমন সহজ করে ভরত মুনির করে যাওয়া বাদ্যাযন্ত্রের শ্রেণীবিন্যাস সবার সামনে না ধরলেই নয়। ডিগ্রীর চশমা বলবে আগলাও, কুক্ষিগত করো, তবে ভুলেও ওতে হাত দিয়ো না।

তানসেনের তানপুরার পুরো টিমকে আমি কুর্নিশ জানাই এরকম একটা সুন্দর উপস্থাপনার জন্য। এছাড়াও আরেকটা কারণ  আছে। তানসেনের তানপুরা ফিরিয়ে দিল আমার বছর ছয়েক আগের  কিছু মধুস্মৃতি। কলামন্দিরের বিশাল হলে আমার মেয়েরা বৃন্দগায়ন করছে, কেদারের এক মোহময় বন্দিশের অন্তরা – ‘কণ্ঠ বনে মোতিয়ন কি মালা’ । অথবা গীটারে বাজছে পাগল করা ব্লুজ, আর ঠিক কাঙ্ক্ষিত দুই গান্ধারের ছোঁয়ার  মুহুর্তে, গলায় মিশছে, রাগ যোগ  – “সাজন মোরে ঘর আয়ে” । এ যোগসূত্রই বলে দেয় – “আছে আছে আমাদের টেলিপ্যাথির জোর আছে” ।

Swarsamrat Ali Akbar Khan Sahab – The Musician of musicians

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

In last few days, due to an unfortunate incident, few words or concepts have been the talk of the town in India. One such is the word – ‘Nepotism’. Well, there is no doubt it exists in almost every field of fine arts. But we must always try to look at the other side of it before commenting on such a delicate topic.

Time – 1938, Place –Bombay, sixteen years old Shibu Dutta was residing at a Hindu Hotel. He had to do play somewhere for living. He decided to visit the Radio station there. Shibu Dutta’s first recording was broadcasted from Bombay. A staff artist accompanied Shibu Dutta on tabla. Today the music world worships this staff radio artist of tabla. We worship him as Ustad Alla Rakha  Khan.

Radio was one of the few modes of entertainment at that  time.  Their performance was broadcasted. Almost 1200 kms away, Maharaja Brijnath Singh of Maihar, listened to that program and informed Baba Allauddin, that this Shibu Dutta, could be his son Ali Akbar, who ran away from Maihar a few days back.   

Not only once, but Ali Akbar Khan Sahab had to run away from his Guru and father – Ustad Allauddin Khan Sahab – twice.

Now, why did he run away? He stated that reason clearly in his interviews. It was really difficult to cope up with the kind of Talim which was prescribed for him. Baba Allauddin, The legendary Guru of numerous eminent musicians, was also known for his very strict teaching style.  According to Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Sahab, he had to wake up at 5 in the morning and was supposed to start his Riyaz right then, till 11 at night with a minimum recess period.

Baba Allauddin  Khan’s life was not less than any fable. He carried the ocean of music within him through his years and years of talim and sadhna.

Probably he wanted to pass on that legacy to his disciples including  Pt Ravi Shankar, Pt Nikhil Banerjee, Pt Pannalal Ghosh, Pt Rabin Ghosh, and most certainly to his heir, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and Annapurna Devi. Baba nourished them all with his infinite musical wisdom. But he was uncompromisingly strict about the disciplines of his Talim.

Ali Akbar Khan Sahab had to carry forward that legacy. But the pressure of Riyaz was always there. That too with constant monitoring by Baba.  At times it must have been suffocating. But Swar-samrat, himself had acknowledged that much needed, strict schooling later.

The seed of Talim which was sowed at his very early age, started blooming when Ali Akbar was only thirteen. The tapestry of raag sangeet, which was knitted by his father, coloured the mind of innumerable listeners all across the world. The lullaby of his music take us to a journey to transcendence.

  Through a research I got a chance to dig into the archive of Amrita Bazar Patrika. There, I came across a  press release of All Bengal Music Conference. Published at Amrita Bazar Patrika, On 2nd January, 1940,– wherein the artist line up you would find the name of ‘Prof Allauddin with Ali Akbar’. He accompanied Baba so many times, from a very young age.

From the shadow of a legendary father and  Guru – the maestro emerged. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Sahab, the musician musicians, the sage, made his journey to eternity on this day, eleven years back. His music works as an elixir to many of us, his philosophy shown us marga – the path.

 “it is a path for realization and salvation.”

….to be continued

 Courtesy: Atanu Chakrabarty, Kolkata Music Mapping, Amrita Bazar Patrika.

Remembering Sri Hemanta Mukhopadhyay on his Birth Centenary


2009 onwards, an Indian movie character named Farhan Qureshi almost shook the ground of Indian society. A rebel, who finally stood by his own decision of pursuing his own passion, photography over studying engineering. It was a flame that turned into a huge fire in the next one decade. It is really difficult to choose a freelancing career over a stable job. Many of us are doing it today. Some of us are still hesitating.

 I wonder how difficult it must have been in early ’40s. How difficult it must have been to quit the studies of engineering and to go for the chosen path. Thankfully he convinced his father or else probably the world would not have experienced this golden voice. The golden voice of Hemanta Mukhopadhyay. 

The usage of the word ‘unique’ is not unique anymore. It can only be applied to a few things, one such is the voice quality of Sri Hemanta Mukhopadhyay. His immensely tuneful voice reaches our soul. But not only his exceptional voice, but also his utmost command in voice modulation and his phenomenal singing style. If the concept of Gayeki and Nayeki are to be demonstrated – one should start demonstrating it through Hemant Kumar’s singing. Hemanta Mukhopadhyay used to make his listeners visualize the songs without even looking at it. It was so full of expressions. But whichever genre he has worked in, he brought the necessary changes in the Gayeki but kept his Nayeki, his own singing signature, untouched.  May it be, ‘Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy’-  an immensely romantic film song of Uttam Kumar as the main leading actor or may it be “ Na tum Hamein Jano’ – a classic of Devanand , or may it be  -‘ Khomite parilam na je” – a heart-wrenching composition by Tagore from ‘Shyama’, Hemanta Mukherjee delivered his rendition in his own mythical way.

At the path of fine arts, there is a very common phrase – mass or class. Now there are many theoretical explanations for this ‘ism’s, but I am sure you know what does it mean. Let us assume there are two types of people who appreciate art in two different ways in their own parameters. But when we start tagging the words like ‘legendary’ with some name; it means that the artist is able to create his or her magic on both mass and class. Hemanta Mukhopadhyay fits into this title entirely. Let us talk about one of his most serene songs – ‘Shanto Noditi, Pothe Anka Chobiti’, we must have listened to it numerous time, here in this part –“ paal gutiye chole gache, chotto noditi, aha chotto noditi”, here he has sung chotto noditi twice, but in two slightly different way. This is Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, he used the suddh and komal formation of one single note in such subtle way as if no difference occurred. It was that effortless.

Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, or Hemant Kumar, is a name of a milestone in pan Indian music scene. As the singer and as the ace composer, the fragrance of his creations is as fresh as ever. It’s hard to believe that the compositions like “ Humne dekhi hay in ankhon ki mahekti khusboo” – was created sometimes during 1969-70, from the perspective of it’s singing, it’s poetry, it’s tune and even it’s orchestration. It’s hard to find a listener who doesn’t feel a goosebump after listening to that tune of that mystic whistling at the prelude of ‘Ei Raat Tomar Amar’ or in its hindi version ‘Yeh Nayan Darey Darey’. Yes, it haunts indeed.

 In the history of almost a thousand years of Bengali songs – unanimously  – Adhunik Bangla Gaan ( Modern Bengali Songs) has been considered as the most glorious chapter. Yes, even today this genre, which is at least fifty years old,  is still popular as modern Bengali songs. But if we emphasize on the concept of modern songs, then history would point out some masterpieces from time to time. And one such composition is Ranar. It was path-breaking, as the poem, as the composition and definitely from the perspective of singing. Hemanta Mukhopadhyaya absolutely portrayed that song, portrayed that story. And as I was saying, so smoothly he delivered that very challenging composition. Usage of major, minor or chromatic notes – nothing mattered, nothing. Just the song and story sustained, he never emphasized the grammar, he never presented grammar, he sang, composed, created magic, touched our heart and soul and left. 

My first recording took place at a very popular studio in Kolkata named – Studio Vibration. There I found an old wooden chair, which was a little high in size. I was curious and a dada at that studio probably understood it and said that it used to belong to Hemanta Mukhopadhyay. At his old age he used to sit there and record his songs. I kind of started imagining the legend singing with his accurate modulation in that studio, I am kind of imagining him singing these few lines now– in this soft, mystic, sustaining voice  – ‘Prithibi ghumiye pore, tumi dekhecho ki”.

Hemanta Mukhopadhyaya

One Hundred Years of the wondrous advent: Remembering Pandit Ravi Shankar on his Birth Centenary.

Pandit Ravi Shankar

The Indian Music and The World Music:

It was a usual Friday night. Like many “Desi’s, we also headed towards Devon Avenue, Chicago from Deplanes for our Indian dinner. It was again a usual Desi restaurant with a spicy aroma and smokes of tandoor and old but gorgeous carpets, silverish or metal Arabic jugs, lanterns, and most certainly Indian instrumental music. We entered there and started enjoying Raag Durga on Sarod with the most prominent signature of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Sahab and then gradually they played santoor and flute. I was a little hesitant about my identification of the Raga played on the flute and therefore I asked the person who brought us our cheque, very politely for the CD cover. It was back then in 2009, CD was still in the trend. That person asked me to wait and sent their manager/owner to cater these kinds of out of syllabus problems. The owner (non-Asian) seemed very enthusiastic. I said alright I was just enthralled by the ambiance and music and he replied promptly – “ Yes Maam, It was Pandit Raaaavi Shaaankar.”. I tried to clarify that there were no tracks of Pandit Ravi Shankar as there was no sitar track but I failed. He had a strong belief that if it is Indian Classical Music it has to be “Raaavi Shaankar”. So this is Panditji. Who became not only synonymous with Indian classical Music but also turned Indian Classical Music into World Music.

Panditji :

Yes, since my childhood I was taught to address him as Panditji. Why, because my parents and all their legendary musician associates used to call him Panditji. One day I found my mom getting quickly ready to go out somewhere. That was unusual for her to go anywhere in the afternoon. Later I found that she and my father went to meet Panditji at Pandit Kumar Bosses Northern Avenue residence. Also, I came to know that Pandit Ravi Shankar was quite fond of catfish curry (Magur macher jhol). At that age, we children had to eat that fish at gunpoint of our elders. I was really young and was really surprised that how come a world-known celebrity can be fond catfish of all things. That mystery never solved.

The new-age Indian Classical Music:

Not only Panditji’s sitar, I am also a huge follower of his talks, interviews, his philosophies. Many people at that time with probably could not take accept his views on Indian Classical Music at that time. But today we understand that he was much ahead of his time. In the first decade of post-colonial India, a huge change was occurring even in the field of Indian Classical Music. The monarchies were evaporating and the court musicians had to start performing for common people. Indian Classical Music crossed the barrier of the royal court and emerged as the music for the mass. In one of Panditji’s interview, he shared his valuable view on this. The listeners of the Royal court had adequate knowledge and Talim for listening. But when common people started going for classical concerts, many of them had neither knowledge nor patience to appreciate elaborate Alap or Behelwas. A makeover of the Indian Classical Music and its presentation was very much needed to sustain. And undoubtedly Pandit Ravi Shankar stood there as the pioneer. Even for the listeners abroad, his presentations took a different shape. He understood that pulse and as a result, we came across all those beautiful laykaris, which made the world audience glued to his music.

The most talked-about Indian Classical Musician :  

Born in a culturally inclined family, or as the young brother of the eminent dancer Sri Uday Shankar, as the young dancer at Uday Shankar’s troupe, as the students of Baba Allauddin Khan, as the Gurubhai and friend of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, as one of the most acclaimed musicians of world music, as the father and off course as the husband of Smt Annapurna Devi – Pandit Ravi Shankar has always been the talk of the town for almost a century now. Pandit Ravi Shankar was also an accomplished dhrupad singer.  But dhrupad singing, sitar playing, discovering ragas or composing music do not intrigue us much. We feel more comfortable talking about his fictitious rivalry with Ustad Vilayet Khan or his mythic clashes with his first wife. His number of marriages or number of children doesn’t soothe my inner soul. But his music does.  We say he has shortened the process of Alap  and then I listen to his rendition of Raag Desi or Bhatiyar , and the way he establishes the Raga in just six to seven seconds astonishes me every time I listen to. That is his art, that is his music, that sustains in souls, just that music, and nothing else.