Ramkumar Chatterjee is regarded as the repository of Bangla Puratoni Gaan (old Bengali songs). It was he who popularized the genre of Bengali Baithaki songs. Hailing from a strong musical background as his grandfather, himself a classical singer, wanted young Ramkumar to learn tabla as it would help him to develop an ear for musical notation. However, the prized moment came later when he got an opportunity to accompany Kazi Nazrul Islam during a public meeting held by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at Hedua in north Calcutta. Sharatchandra Pandit popularly known as ‘Dadathakur‘ appointed him as a singer at the radio station after a short voice test, which he cleared, and started singing. He was given five rupees per song.
A Raga must evoke a particular emotion or create a certain mood. Each Raga has a specific name. It also has a character, which can be devotional, erotic, bold and valorous, or even tragic. Time of day, when it is best performed, is usually specified as a 3-hour interval. However the beauty of the Raga is not affected if it is performed at other times of the day. Some Ragas are related to seasons, for example, Raga Malhar. Ragas are not static. Some can be traced back to ancient or medieval times, others originated only a few centuries or even a few decades ago. However, all Ragas have undergone transformations over the centuries. Many of them have fallen into disuse.
The story of Mukul Shivputra (born on March 25, 1956) is very sad indeed. Born to one of the greatest vocalists of Hindustani music, Pandit Kumar Gandharva and Bhanumati Komkali, Mukul apparently could not cope up with the pressures and expectation one has from a son of such illustrious parents. He took to drugs and alcohol. During the recent past he has performed infrequently and irregularly in the public, which is mostly attributed to his addictions. On 15th May, 2009, The Times of India reported that Mukul was seen begging for money outside a temple in Bhopal. One of my readers has just informed me that Mukul Shivputra was unable to perform in the Vasantotsav concert held on 22nd January, 2011 in Pune. Rahul Deshpande, one of his disciples was in tears seeing his guru in such a state. His recordings have become rarities and collector’s items, something unheard of any artist who is still alive and so talented.
Mukul Shivputra – Barwa – Baje Mori Payaliya :
Mukul Shivputra – Dev Gandhar – Man Harva Mori Re :
He was a colossus among musicians, loved for his humility and simplicity as much as his mesmeric voice and talent. In a career spanning over six decades, he took the Kirana gharana and Hindustani music to a new high and earned fans among connoisseurs and ordinary folk alike. One of the most beloved and versatile musicians of our times has sung his last note. Bharat Ratna, PanditBhimsen Joshi passed away in Pune on Monday, the 24th January, 2011 after struggling with a brief illness. He was 88 years old.
“..he was an extremely affectionate man, simple and very good-natured. He was particularly encouraging of younger musicians. I remember a train journey from Kolkata to Mumbai in 1966. We were traveling together and out of the blue he turned around and told me: When I look back at those who are following in my footsteps, I see only you. For a young musician it was an overwhelming pat on the back. I met him the last time in December last year. I had sung at the Sawai Gandharva Festival he hosts in Pune and went to meet him the next morning to pay my regards. You did well last night, he said. I asked for and got his blessings. Then he said, I am tired, I want to sleep..”
~ Pandit Jasraj
“..among the many aspects of his life that come to my mind is his alcoholic phase. Occasionally, he would come to my place at 2 a.m. saying he had run out of a drink and I would push him out. But he had the constitution of a horse. He would never allow drinking come in the way of his singing. He would drink to a concert, collapse and emerge from it, singing again. He had fantastic physical fitness and his dedication to singing was total. More than collapsing, it would, perhaps, be accurate to say he would drink and come and sleep off on the stage on which he was meant to sing. He would be in deep sleep when the concert was to begin. The next day, he would wake up and sing to glory. Drink he may have had, but he never disappointed a soul, and no soul ever went back disappointed. Bhimsen would work hard on his singing and voice, going on for hours on end in the very early morning. He would work so hard it would frighten even the great Gangubai Hangal. She, in fact, said one day she was very scared by his practice..”
~ Girish Karnad
Indian classical instrumental is a much sought after genre of music all over the world today. Gone are the days when listeners from Western countries could not make out if the instrument that was being played was sarod or sitar. The only sound that convinced Westerners that the music is really Indian was the constant drone of the tanpura. But thereafter, of course, the sounds of the sitar strings became recognizable everywhere and even got featured in a few Hollywood movies of the 1950s and 1960s. The sound was also noticed by many Rock bands of the West and some experimented with it in their music.
Bismillah Khan – Malkauns (Shehnai) :
Hariprasad Chaurasia – Pilu (Bansuri) :
Ali Akbar Khan – Gour Sarang (Sarod) Vocals: Asha Bhonsle :
Anoushka Shankar – Shuddha Sarang (Sitar) :
Note: Please inter-change the names of the last two songs after you download them. They were wrongly named while uploading.