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meena banerjee appreciated the blend for a noble cause
Expressive ragas
WE live in an era which believes in showmanship that abhors risky innovative ventures. That is why fast food, readymade clothes, guided tours, masala films, etc, are such hits now. Even classical concerts are no exception. Most pundits choose to entertain their listeners with tried and tested recipes. One, therefore, gets to hear a few familiar ragas, with a considerably broad canvas, doing the rounds. An event organised by the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture at Vivekananda Hall on 1 June was different from the usual rung as sarod exponent Joydeep Ghosh, the artiste of the evening who belongs to the Shahjahanpur gharana, chose a rarely heard but beautiful raga Sajgiri as his first choice. This actually is a trait of his gharana, which boasts of such pundits like Radhika Mohan Maitra, Buddhadev Dasgupta and several others.
   According to an anecdote, legendary sitar maestro Vilayat Khan was so awestruck by the intriguing beauty of Radhubabu&’s Sajgiri (Sanjhgiri for some) rendition that he, despite his daunting lineage, learnt it from him. Belonging to Marwa Thhaat, this not-so-old or untraditional evening melody is a blend of Puria and Poorvi ragas and sports Komal Rishabh, both Madhyams and both Dhaivats. All these notes give it a complex gait, making it difficult for its presenter to etch its character.
   The longer than usual alap by Ghosh delved deep into the lower octave with the help of gliding phrases. His occasional perch on Shuddh Madhyam evoked peace while passages with komal Dhaivat imprinted shades of pathos. The jod segment, replete with different taan patterns, chose phrases to highlight different notes. The same result was achieved by mukam-based jhala. As a result, the uncommon and unpredictable traits of this raga&’s persona got neatly portrayed by the time he chose to play slow teental gatkari, aided by Parimal Chakraborty&’s tabla.
  The gat-bandish and its treatment remained faithful to the raagroop. For faster gatkari, Ghosh switched to raga Nand (Anandi Kalyan). A very brief aochar before the medium teental gat suddenly changed the mood. The lighthearted mix of the super-hit and immortal film song, “Tu jahan-jahan chalega, mera saaya saathh  hoga” (Lata-Madan Mohan) added zing to the recital. The jhala stretched a bit too much. Also, when the evening began with a wonderful, long introduction by the compere, Ghosh could show some polite interest by keeping away his nailfile for a few seconds at least! This, too, was too long for comfort.

Orissi for a cause
Inner Wheel Club of Calcutta Midtown (Dist 329) organised a colourful evening of Orissi dance at the Satyajit Ray Auditorium (ICCR) on 3 June. Dr Sudha Dutta, daughter of Padma Bhushan-winner Dr Girija Devi, disciple of the legendary Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and founder of Devi Partidhwani, presented her students. As is usual, the recital began with a traditional Mangalacharan offered through well-choreographed group dance by Sreeparna Das, Mithu Sen, Snigdha Sengupta, Gargi Saha and Anisha Bhowmick. This was followed by “Dashavatar” by Kaberi Kunti, a National Scholarship-holder and disciple of Dr Dutta. Next was Vasant Pallavi, neatly presented by three dancers. After these traditional dance items, accompanied by traditional music, the presentation moved towards items with modern music as their background scores.
   Madhuram could do without the eight-beat based unconventionally light music as the lyrics “Mdhur murati manohara ati” demanded a six-beat lilt. “Raas”, based on Surdas-pada, came up as a gorgeous presentation at the end. Earlier, the evening began with the Inner Wheel prayer followed by their president&’s address and handing over of sewing machines to women aspiring to be self-employed. This fundraising event also aimed at spreading general awareness related to the selfless services rendered by this organisation, essentially nurtured by ladies. An impressive list of their community service, educational help for the needy and/or physically challenged students, environmental help, eye and blood donation, medical assistance, etc, also includes their latest project: Ramkrishna Ashram Nimpith Diagnostic Centre, with a mother and childcare unit. This unit, meant for every strata of society in the Sundarbans region of West Bengal, is dedicated to the fond memory of the late Paresh Rajda, who was an active member of the Inner Wheel Club.
Green revolution
Ever since its inception in 2009, Chinton has carved a special niche for itself in the cultural world of Kolkata simply because this brainchild of classical vocalist Sounak Chatterjee comes up with innovative concepts — always. Its latest was “Shyamalo Sukhero Dhara” (Green Earth), a multimedia production apparently aimed at educating people for a greener tomorrow based on the works of Rabindranath Tagore. It was organised at Birla Sabhagar (8 June) and the full house proved that for Chinton it was another feather in its cap.
   Apart from the captivating audiovisuals, the evening featured luminaries like Soumitra Chatterjee, Bratati Bandopadhyay, Barun Chanda and Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee for narration and recitation, popular singers Lopamudra and Rupankar Bagchi for oft-heard Tagorean oeuvres, while Sounak himself sang classical-based Rabindrasangeet (dhrupad-based “Darao mana ananta bramhando rajye”, kirtan-based eight-beat-version of “Ei to tomar prem ogo”, “Keno re tor jabar twara”, etc.).
Choreographer Sandip Mallick infused drama by making his group of dancers enter from the back door and cross the auditorium to step on stage. These dancers represented Bharatanatyam, Orissi, Kathakali, Kathak and Manipuri — all of which had influenced the graceful style of Rabindrik Nritya.
   The concept and script by Sounak ventured to highlight the multifaceted persona of Tagore as a farsighted environmentalist who warned the world about its impending doom due to man&’s insensitivity towards Mother Nature. This event took off with a highly impressive introduction, penned and read by renowned compere Biplab Ganguly.
   Unfortunately, this lovely yet informative piece came right after the prolonged, unwarranted ad-like speeches by dignitaries representing the sponsors and, therefore, an exasperated spectator, eager to “see” a star-studded stage and evidently unable to grasp the significance of this prelude, lost patience. Such behavior was a rude shock for lovers of Tagore, no doubt.

‘Cause’ing fusion
Calcutta Rescue, an NGO working for the less privileged for more than 30 years to provide education and holistic care to for the less privileged citizens of this metro, believes that every individual has the power to change the world every day; especially by engaging in life and from the moments that are created out of empathy. Calcutta Rescue, therefore, looks forward to the people of Kolkata joining hands and continuing its crusade against poverty, ignorance and apathy. On this note, some of the best artistes from the cultural milieu joined hands for the noble cause of promoting the contribution of Calcutta Rescue through a musical performance at Tollygunge Club (7 June).
The evening witnessed Rishabh Dhar, brand ambassador of Calcutta Rescue, along with his band Fingerprints, who set the stage alight with a lively performance that blended Indian classical ragas with jazz, blues and flamenco. He was accompanied by renowned classical singer Sounak Chatterjee, who enthralled all with his vocal renditions, especially ragas. Since the language of music knows no boundaries, this was the best way to further the NGO&’s work. This initiative was to create awareness through active and interesting melodic participation in order to make the world a better place. In Kolkata and areas of rural Bengal itself, almost four million people live below the poverty line and some 2.5 million live on the streets and slums scattered across the city. Thus, Calcutta Rescue was established to meet the most basic needs of these poor and downtrodden people, providing free medical care, education, benefits and vocational training for increasing income-generating opportunities. The programme rounded off with a short performance by the children of Calcutta Rescue.
Coming up
22-23 June: Sangeet Milon (Lucknow), supported by the State Bank of India and ITC SRA, organises “Classical Voice of India” competition. Kolkata venue: ITC SRA Hall, 1, NSC Bose Road, Tollygunge; 10 am onwards daily; local winners’ recital after award ceremony; 23 June; 4 pm onwards; entry free.
29 June: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture presents classical music featuring Professor Asit Kumar De (vocal) and Saket Sahu (violin); 6 pm; entry by cards, available at venue.
5 July: Kolkata Music Forum presents young maestros Sarwar Hussain (sarangi solo), Kumar Mardur (vocal) and Subhranil Sarkar (sitar); Birla Academy; 6 pm; entry free.