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.
Ramkumar Chatterjee (Chattopadhyay) (1921-2009) was a famous singer from Bengal. He is best known for his unique Bengali tappa and puratoni gaan (old Bengali songs). He also had a special place in singing in the baithaki gaan (songs sung at elite evening gatherings) prevalent during the ‘babu raj’ in old Bengal of the last century. He was very popular among the masses because of his unique signature parodies, which enthralled the audiences. He also composed music for two Bengali films, Streer Patra (1973) and Parikrama (1996).
Afroz Bano is one of India’s most popular exponents of thumri. Gifted with a powerful voice, which has mellowed through sustained riyaz, she is recognised for her ability to sensitively interpret the range of emotions demanded by the text of the poems that she sings. In addition to thumri, Afroz Bano is equally adept in the styles of Ghazal, Bhajan and Rajasthani Mand. She has also sung for Hindi films.
Afroz Bano – Bhairavi – Ho Gayi Beriya Piya Ke Aavan Ki :
Afroz Bano – Misra Mand – Kesariya Baalam :
The concert, recorded in 2003, includes compositions based on established ragas. For this recital Afroz Bano has chosen the traditional thumri accompaniment of Sarangi, Tabla and Harmonium. The Sarangi is the most accurate instrument to imitate the subtle nuances of the thumri style.
Rasas or emotions that govern human lives are mentioned in the Natya Shastra, the 400 B C ‘bible’ of Indian music, dance and drama. Shringar Rasa, the emotion of romantic love, is the essence of Thumri and its allied forms, Dadra, Kajri, Jhoola, Sawan, Hori and Chaiti. Thumri is a short piece of semi-classical rendition usually sung at the conclusion of a classical music concert. Thumri is based on the romantic-devotional literature inspired by the Radha-Krishna love theme. The words are strictly adhered to, and the singer attempts to interpret them with his/her melodic improvisations. It is quite usual for a singer to deviate from the rendered Raga, but momentarily.
Ustad Barkat Ali Khan (1905-1962) has left a lasting impression on various genres of Hindustani light classical music. He was younger brother of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. By several accounts Barkat Ali Khan was a superior Thumri singer but had to content himself by playing second fiddle to his elder brother.
After partition of India, Barkat Ali Khan migrated to Pakistan and concentrated on the lighter aspects of Hindustani classical music. He made a great contribution to North Indian light classical music. He was acknowledged as one of the greatest Thumri, Dadra, Geet and Ghazal artists. His outstanding rendering techniques of Purab and PunjabAng have no match. He captured the audience all over India and Pakistan with his unique style of music.
Barkat Ali Khan – Ras Ke Bhare Tore Nain :
Barkat Ali Khan – Kahe Satavo Mohe Sanwariya :
Barkat Ali Khan – Lagi Naheen Chhootay :
Barkat Ali Khan – Torey Naina Jadu Bhare :
Ustad Barkat Ali Khan’s famous disciples include Ghazal singers Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, actress singer Noor Jehan, Begum Akhtar and many more. He died a premature death at the age of 57.