Half Worn-Out Oldies

 

 

 

 

 

When we first saw the big pile of audio cassettes and was told that all of them were Sanjoyda’s old recordings we became quite excited. We thought that we could finally put our hands on the right place.. but, life was not full of bliss..  when we put the cassette tapes on the machine most of them did not sing anything! Twenty years in the scorching 49 degrees Celsius heat at Khairagarh and later more than a decade in Kolkata’s humid climate were too heavy for these recordings to endure. Most of them have drop outs, has become too noisy to be able to make out any sensible music, or some of them have overlapping channels.. and what not.. From this naughty screeching tapes we forced some modern computer applications and could come out with some listenable musical pieces.. the old music lovers may like some of these recordings interesting. Also, the recordings faithfully depict the remarkable musical transitions happened in Sanjoyda’s  five decade long musical journey..  [Editor, July 07, 2011].  Here Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay gives the oldies. He tells old stories from his life with music clippings.

 

Zero Point

Nervous Sanjoy Accompanying his Guru Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra in a Concert.  Shreeshikshayatan Auditorium, Calcutta. 1977. [Recording source: Michael Robbins, Mexico]

Sanjoyda speaks…

“… It was a Friday morning. As on every Fridays I reached 1/7 Kalibari Lane door step by 8:55 in the morning. Yes, that was my Ustadjee’s house. The door would open at 8:59 a.m. and get closed at 9:01 a.m.  [or earlier] immediately after I enter the house. Yes, this was the practice.  All the students required being absolutely punctual or they miss their talims. The door opened at 8:59 and I entered and the door got closed.

Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra

When I was tuning my instrument and was getting ready for the taalim Ustadji kind of announced in almost expressionless face that I require assisting him in a concert. I did not believe my ears…!! But I had to suppress my excitement otherwise I did not what would happen. I used to get scolded so often that I was completely confused about what should be ‘going proper’.   I had my usual talim. When I was about to leave Ustadjee after touching his feet he told me that he would sit with me with his sarod before the concert. I fearfully asked him what raga I should prepare… he said “how I can tell you now?”  I went back home as the happiest person in the world. I tried to make wild guess what he might play; I thought of Kedar, Kamod, Shyam-Kalyan even Chhaya Behag and   this and that. After about two weeks he asked me to visit him in an evening and asked me to bring my sitar with me. I could not even ask why so, but guessed that he might sit with his sarod and do a little bit of music and check how I go with him. That was what exactly happened. He brought out his instrument and pushed up the sarod scale to C and asked me to pull down my sitar scale to C. In those days I used to play in D and his sarod was in B. He started Kedar and I joined him. He did not appear unhappy with my performance as I did not receive any severe scolding during this session.  I took it that he would play Kedar in the concert. So I went on practicing the ‘raga’.  I had to also prepare my sitar to play in lower scale so I substituted all the strings with thicker strings.

On the concert day I discovered that it was actually a felicitation ceremony where my Ustadjee would receive ‘Sangetshyamala Award’ and he would play. On reaching the auditorium I found that Ustadjee is surrounded people. I saw Buddhda [Pandit Buddhaddev Dasgupta, my senior gurubhai… now our top sarod player] and approached him. He guided me about the green room where I could tune my instrument. I was trying to find an opportunity to meet Ustadjee, but it was not easy. However, he saw me and called me. He told me that I should tune my instrument in Jhinjhit [Jhinjhoti] and in his sarod scale. I became nervous… to B and that too in Jhijhit! Oh! God save me… But, there was no other go… I tuned my sitar to B and heard all kind of scary sound coming out of my sitar; it became difficult to control meends on the strings with so much reduced tension. Buddhada came to me, became sympathetic and said some healing words ‘kire, asubidhe hocchhe?’[Are you uncomfortable?].

sb in 1977 was somewhat like this..

Finally, we sat on the stage with Gobindada [Pandit Gobindo Bose] on the tabla.  It was full-house and I found all the renowned Calcutta musicians’ faces in the auditorium. Gobinda alerted me that I must keep the laya rock-steady.. no adventures.  I became alarmed and even more nervous..! The recital began.. “

[Note: The recording does not include the gat part. The recording is important in a sense that it reveals the level of musical communication between the teacher and the disciple; here Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra and his disciple Sanjoy. This is the earliest recorded music specimen of Sanjoyda. Although Sanjoyda consistently says that he used to play much better than what is reflected in this recording. This may be noted that he had very successful concert tour during 1975-76 when he played twice in Bombay [Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan], in Raipur, Jabalpur, Dibrugarh and Agartala in addition to his concerts in his home town Calcutta. In Raipur and Jabalpur he played 3 hour solo concerts.]
The 1977 Jhinjhoti – Alap, Jod

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Concert 1

First solo concert

Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta, January 1979.. Pandit Shankar Ghosh on the tabla.. Kushal Das on Tanpura

It was a January cold morning, the year was 1979. The 24 year old Sanjoy was in peacock green colored kurtA on stage at the Academy of Fine Arts, the art enthusiast’s auditorium in Calcutta.  Pandit Shankar Ghosh, the ace tabla player on stage to provide tabla support. Kushal Das, Sanjoy’s student [now a renowned sitar player], was on the tanpuri. Sanjoy gurubhAi Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta, the famous sarod player, introduced the promising sitar player. Sanjoy’s Guru Pandit Radhika Mohan was a bit tensed, his student before such a learned gathering… wishing that all go well. The first row was decorated with a galaxy of master-musicians and learned personalities; Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, Pandit D.T. Joshi, Pt. Bimala Prasad Chatterjee and many other senior musicians… Sanjoy’s other affectionate teacher Pandit Manas Chakraborty was also there, tensed and uncertain on what will happen…

Sanjoyda recalls, “… I was very excited to have the opportunity to play a solo sitar recital and the dream tabla-player Shankarda on the tabla. Incidentally, I also learnt a bit of tabla with him. All the affectionate seniors were before me… Buddhada came to me and asked ‘kire tAnpurAtA miliye niechhis..?’ [Have you tuned the tanpuri?]I requested ‘Apni ektu dekhe din nA’ [Please check it if this is right]. Buddhada checked the tAnpurA tuning, did some fine tuning and gave it back to Kushal. Shankarda said ‘Son, mejAj niye bAjAbi, tARAhuRo korbinA’ [Listen, play soulfully  … don’t hurry to go for speeds…].

I was a bit nervous. The curtain opened, it was full house… Shankarda took a while to check the microphone adjustments mostly taking care that my sitar sound goes to the audience properly. I did not have that kind of understanding how it should be done. Buddhada came on stage and introduced us. I started with miyA ki toRi. The strumming started… After miAn-ki-todi, I played a gat in bhairavi. Suddenly I heard from the audience… ‘antarA bAjAo’ [play the antarA]. It was none other than my Gurujee Radhubabu… He never spared anybody, not to dream that he would spare me..! I started playing the antarA…

The concert was presented by Habukaka [Pt. Rabindra Mohan Maitra, my Gurujee’s younger brother] and major part of the expenses were borne by my dear friend Mr. Steven Rosenbaum. Steve came to India to learn tabla. He became a disciple of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. Steve learnt so much that my Gurujee at a point started calling him Pandit Rosenbaum!“

The concert was a big hit. The musicians showered blessings on the young Sanjoy.

Listen to the audio recording of the concert.

Clip 01 

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Clip 02

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Clip 03

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Concert 2

Kahiragarh, April 1981. Malkauns with Gajanan Tade on the tabla, Neeta Chouhan on the tanpuri. [Alap, Jod, middle tempo gat in Rupak tala of 7 beats and fast gat in Trital of 16 beats and jhala]

 

Sanjoyda says,

“…I become nostalgic to think about Khairagarh. I spent my prime period of life there. I was 26 when I joined the university. It was very eventful and full of musical memories.

Window at the back of the IKSU Boy’s Hostel.

Till I found a rented space to reside I took shelter in the Boy’s hostel there. It was wonderful to be there.  There was so much music around, music going on round the clock. The early morning shehnai on the loud speaker that the whole campus listened was like sweet morning wake-up call. On some morning this was sitar in sometimes sarod. Then the sound of riyaz from all corners… the students practicing, the teachers practicing… then the university teaching time… All of us used come back to their shelters by 7 in the evening. Then again the sound of music… the evening practicing… then the late evening practicing then the dead-night practicing… finally the early morning practicing and then the cycle completed with the wake-up music on the loud-speaker!  The people around appeared crazily in love with music; the students the faculty members, the non-teaching staff, the local people, who not?

Front view of Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya

I joined Khairagarh University on 5th March 1981. In April there was a literary conference, the scholars assembled from different parts of the country. Dr. Ramakant Srivastava was the host. At that time Ramaknatjee was a man to be observed. He used to enjoy high importance in the university affairs. He was a brilliant scholar, an academy award winner literati and a person who used to take keen interest in many non-academic activities; what a combination! One day Ramakantjee asked me if I could play a sitar recital for the delegates. I readily agreed. I wanted Gajanan Tade [gajAnan tAde] to provide me tabla support.  Tadejee was a very musical tabla player. In those days he was one of the most sought after tabla player in Madhya Pradesh.  I wanted someone to play tanpuri. The in-charge Academic Office Chauhanjee suggested that her daughter can do it. So, Neeta Chauhan played the tanpuri. Neeta later joined the university as a faculty in the Department of Kathak Dance.

Khairagarh Palace at night.

It was late evening at the Darbar Hall. It was probably my first performance in this hall. This space was the court of the King of Khairagarh. There were nice chandeliers hanging from the roof and huge portraits of earlier kings of the state, the floor was wall to wall covered. Here many revered musicians performed; Ustad Alauddin Khan Saheb, Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Saheb and who not? So, I had a different feeling. I chose Malkauns…”

He played alap, jod then started a gat in middle tempo Rupak tala and ended the piece with fast Trital gat, some tanas and jhala. Click to listen to the rendering.

  • First part of the recording

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  • Part II

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  • Part III

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