Madhyami offered its annual melody-enriched offerings on the auspicious day of Guru Purnima (31st July) at Mahajati Sadan (annexes) with great reverence to its beacon, Ustad Abdul Haleem Jaffer Khan. The living legend, who evolved a unique style of sitar playing along with several ragas like Madhyami, lives in the hearts of Kolkatans, thanks to the dedicated practice and propagation by his disciple, Pandit Harashankar Bhattacharya. Every year he creates a new composition that highlights the salient features of the Jafferkhani Baaj. This year was no exception.
Under his loving direction, the evening commenced with a delightful “Vrind-vaadan” (instrument ensemble) presented by Deepshankar Bhattacharya, Rohan Dasgupta, Ankita and Ivan, supported by Abhirup Roy on the tabla. The composition was based on ragas like Miyan Malhar, Megh Malhar, Jayant Malhar, Sur Malhar and Zilla Kafi, set to teental and ektal. This was followed by a khayal recital by vocalist Debasis Adhikary. Accompanied by Goutam Chakraborty (tabla) and Pradip Palit (harmonium), he sang a heavy evening raga Bhopali and topped it up with a thumri and a Dogri folk song. Next was a young Mumbai-based violinist, Manas Kumar, who opted for a raga like Kedar with broad-spectrum and heavy gait for his main item and closed with a Mishra Khamaj dhun with Prasanta Dey Ray on the tabla.
Flautist Sudip Chattopadhyay&’s interpretation of raga Miyan Malhar with Abhirup Roy&’s tabla was based on a delightful vocalised form of instrumentalism as envisaged by Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, the great legend. The evening concluded with a sweet Purabia dhun in raga Bhairavi.
Sudip Chattopadhyay, a disciple of Pandit Debaprasad Banerjee, was the final artiste of another event organised at the Bhownipur Sangit Sammilani on 2 August to pay tributes to the late Gour Goswami, the flute maestro who followed in the footsteps of Pandit Pannalal Ghosh and propagated his style in Bengal. Wonderful anecdotes related to Goswami were shared by senior musicians like Amalendu Choudhury, Tapan Goswami (brother), Bhawanishankar Dasgupta and Chattopadhyay, who came into contact with Goswami contact since he was a nine-year-old. Everyone recalled his total devotion to music, his AIR-days and how he would decorate the studio at 1.30 am prior to the live broadcast of Mahalaya!
For his musical homage, Chattopadhyay played a pensive version of raga Yaman during alap and with two compositions set to teental. The first one was composed by Pandit Gour Goswami and the second, in faster tempo, by Pandit Pannalal Ghosh. Soumen Sarkar offered wonderful tabla support during khayal-anga gatkaris. A seasonal Desh thumri-based dhun, set to Deepchandi&’s swaying gait, was followed by a devotion-charged “Vaishnav jana to” bhajan tune with superb improvisations.
Earlier, the evening started with another flute recital of Subir Ray, another disciple of Pandit Debaprasad Banerjee. He played raga Bhupali replete with alap-jod-jhala and gatkaris in medium rupak and fast teental, ably supported by Aurobinda Bhattacharya. The next item was a thumri-dadra recital by Suparna Chatterjee, a disciple of thumri exponents Vidushi Purnima Chaudhuri and Prabhati Mukherjee. She sang a Tilang thumri and a dadra “Baithi soche Brij baam” (Pilu).
Andhra Pradesh has given to the musical world some of the greatest composers steeped in spiritualism; who with their thousands of songs have swept the people off their feet to wake up and realise the Truth. Three giant figures come to mind offhand — Sri Annamacharya, Bhadrachala Ramadasa and Saduguru Thyagaraja. They have been socially responsible in bringing about a reformation; they have been vocal about the hypocrisy, injustice and class distinction prevailing during their times. Centuries have passed since then and still, despite the cries of these Realised Souls to wake up, soaked in ignorance we have not moved an inch from where we were. Their compositions are valid even today!
Annamacharya, lovingly called Annamayya, the eldest of the three, was born in 1408 and it was purely by divine intervention that he became one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music and composed thousands of songs (12,000 are now available) mainly in praise of the world famous Lord of Tirupati, Venkatachalapati. Sheer beautiful poetry in Telugu (some in Sanskrit) set to the choicest of ragas, soaked in devotion, these “samkeertanas” are the quintessence of Hindu philosophy, tradition and culture.
To pay obeisance to this great Bard, the Andhra Association, Kolkata, organised a “Sangitanjali”, joining hands with Sri Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya, a pioneer institution imparting Carnatic music. Guru Srimati A Srividya culled out some of the choicest songs of the composer and taught them to the students who gave a reverential and spirited performance. Erudite vocalist B Karthickeyan gave an introductory speech about the composer, highlighting Annamayya&’s philosophy and also sang “Okkapari Kokkapari Oyyaramai” in raga Karaharapriya (Kafi) which details the elegance of the Lord&’s gait spreading the pious scent of camphor.
Bhanumati Rajaram and Meena Prakash sang faithfully the evergreen “Sriman Narayana” in raga Bouli and “Narayanathe Namo Namo” in raga Behag. Senior disciple Aishwarya Sreenath sang wonderfully a rare song, “Vinaro bhagayamu” (raga Sudhha Dhanyasi), which tells about the greatness of Lord Vishnu. K Gayatri sang an emotive “Enthamatrmula”, which takes up raga Brindavani and Mayamalavagowla (a rare combination). She then joined Brinda Radhakrishnan to sing the lilting song “Podagantimayya” in raga Mohanam (Bhoopali) where the composer hails the Lord as his family deity. Brinda also sang “Bhavayami Gopalapalam”, immortalised by the legendary MS Subbulakshmi and set to raga Yemen by Andhra maestro Nedunuri Krishnamurthy. The programme concluded with “Ksheerapti kanyakaku” in mangala raga Kurinji. Seasoned support by S Ranganathan (violin) and S Venkat Raman (mridangam) enlivened the programme. Guru A Srividya was felicitated by KVR Murthy, IRS, president of Andhra Association.
“Odyssey” by Odissi danseuse Sulagna Ray was organised at the Satyajit Ray Auditorium recently. She began the journey of her solo evening with the ritualistic Mangalacharan. She enacted the Ardhanarishwara, depicting Purush and Prakriti as one being, balancing nature. Her captivating lasya as Prakriti and powerful Rudra Tandava as Purush made the item stand out. This was followed by an Abhinaya-based excerpt from the Geetagovinda where Radha, the Abhisarika Nayika. wants to meet her lover secretly. Her next presentation, Sringar pallavi, was composed and choreographed by her Guru Poushali Mukerjee, and here, too, Sulagna showcased her rhythm sense and sculpture-like Odissi poses. The concluding “Shrita-kamala”, followed by Moksha proved her stamina and versatility. Sulagna&’s guru played the pakhawaj. The live music support, under her guidance, was superb. Vocalist Debashish Sarkar deserves special mention. Eminent artistes like santoor maestro Tarun Bhattacharya and Guru Sanchita Bhattacharjee were among those present.
Bihaan Music is a label that works to propagate every genre of Indian traditional music for the past decade. It has now initiated a sector of book publishing. Biographies of great musicians, lesson documentation of vocal and instrumental music are some of its choices for publishing and distribution. The first publication of Bihaan Music, “Musician For The Soul”, a biography of Baba Allauddin Khan by Anjana Roy, was formally released by eminent personalities at Birla Sabhagar on 25 July.
Since her childhood, almost every day the author heard about her father&’s guru, Ustad Allauddin Khan, who was like a father to him and called him his Dharma Putra. She fondly called him Dadu (grandfather). Amazing stories of the Ustad&’s life left an indelible impact on her young mind. It was her father&’s dream to write a book about his guru and the personal experience he went through when he spent two years in Maihar but sadly he was unable to fulfill that. Ironically, her dissertation for an MPhil programme was the “contribution of Acharya Ustad Allauddin Khan to Indian Classical Music”. The journey converting the dissertation to a book took 11 years! And Bihaan Music completed this cherished dream.
Jana Gana Mana “The Soul of India” is another interesting version that features 12 eminent musicians in the National Anthem video. These artistes are singing star Sonu Nigam, Bickram Ghosh (tablas, udu, rhythm programming, vocals), Ustad Rashid Khan (vocals), Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Mohanveena), Tarun Bhattacharya (santoor), Ronu Mazumdar (flute), Papon (vocals), Purbayan Chatterji (sitar), Unnikrishnan, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Neeti Mohan and the Noora sisters (vocals). Its musical interpretation is by Sonu Nigam and Bickram Ghosh; video conceived and directed by Arnab Riingo Banerjee; video produced by Ring A Bell Films, Kolkata; music assistant on project and programming, Pulak Sarkar; song recorded at Sonu Nigam Studios, Mumbai, and Bickram Ghosh Studios, Kolkata; Noora sisters recorded at Music Room Studio, Kolkata, by Shamik Guha Roy and Uttam Shah; mixed and mastered by Shamik Guha Roy at Bickram Ghosh Studios, Kolkata.
25-29 Aug: Jhulanjatra Music Festival features Satinath Bhattacharya, dhrupad (25th), Ranajit Sengupta, sarod (26th), Sahana Banerjee, sitar (27th), Shakti Nag, flute, and Indrani Mukherjee, khayal-thumri (28th), Nabhodeep Chakraborty (khayal, thumri) and Pandit Manoj Shankar with Partha Bose, sitar (29th); 1, Baburam Sil Lane, Bahubazar; contact 9831540329.
26 Aug: ITC SRA presents vocalist Arshad Ali Khan; SRA Hall; 6 pm.
29 Aug: Indradhanu presents musical evening featuring Srinjoy Mukherjee (sarod) with Sourabh Goho (tabla); Triguna Sen Hall. JU Campus; 5 pm.