I recall my early days, as I slowly became conscious of my being, the
small house we lived in being permeated with
the fragrance, of paint, turpentine and linseed.
Amitabha and Maitreyi Banerjee, painters of repute, instilled in me an appreciation of all things beautiful.
I would see my mother painting on a canvas with bright warm colours, as she would sometimes hum few phrases of a Khayal, or some combined notes in a great speed, which I later knew to be the 'taans' of north Indian Classical music.
Sometimes in the background, the tape recorder would play Khayals and Thumris of our master vocalists.
I was already enchanted by the techniques of various art works and had started evaluating the art of painting and music-realising their interdisciplinary natures and concluding, that each medium with its own typical technique finally became one with the other. I listened to concerts, sometimes staying awake all night, and visited art exhibitions, at the same time. So, my initial music lessons had already begun, even before I was given the first lesson of how and what to sing. The first notes of the evening melody 'Yaman' came to me from mother, who was trained in classical vocals.
My lessons in classical music continued at home, while I started learning Rabindrasangeet - the special style of singing the songs of Rabindranath Tagore, from Guru Sumitra Sen, an exponent. But classical music was always more attractive and I felt more inspired listening to classical music concerts.
Each concert was a new experience, the lasting impact of it lingering for days. Once, my mother had a surprise for me after one of my school examinations… she had two concert tickets for us to go and listen to the great sitar maestro - Ustad Vilayat Khan.
I delved into the enigmatic world of the ragas and
felt the urge to pursue and discover the mysteries of
their unlimited format of combinations and permutations.
I had already embarked on my personal journey into the world of music when
I met my Guru- Krishna Ganguly (Dasgupta), a great singer from my city, Kolkata and a disciple of Acharya Tarapada Chakrabarty and Ustad Amir Khan. Over the years my
Guru explained various ragas and taught me the nuances of rendering
Khayals, Thumris and Bhajans (devotional songs based on ragas).
Happy memories of those formative years linger on...
As I continued to learn, I never missed an opportunity to perform on stage, which I did with great enthusiasm. At this time, when I was doing post graduate studies in Comparative Literature, I became steadfast in choosing vocal music as a profession-so that I could devote most of my time to music and become one with it. Around then, it also dawned on me that I could try and sing some other songs-the songs composed by the great poet of my province, Kazi Nazrul Islam and his contemporaries.
These songs represent the non-classical and the semi-classical music
of 20th century Bengal. I was fortunate again to meet my other Guru
Acharya Biman Mukherjee at this juncture.
My pursuits in art (though not a painter myself) and music have always been the magic wand through my life. The experience of listening, learning and performing music has naturally had a soothing impact and brought a special insight into my philosophy of life. The sound waves moving within the body and emanating, is the expression of the entire being… it is Sadhana or meditation itself. I continue to enlighten my concept of ragas though my lesson from Guru Pandit Monoj Shankar, a senior sitar exponent.