"Swar hi ishwar hain, har raag main atma hain (In sound, God dwells; every raaga is alive)," quotes Srinjoy Mukherjee, being asked about his favourite raaga, "Badeguruji (grand master) Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan often says," he adds pinching on earlobe with reverence.
Srinjoy Mukherjee, celebrated for magical Jugalbandis (duet) on stage, having the academic background from Kolkata Sangeet Research Academy and Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, is now a Ganda Bandhan (a traditional ceremony of acceptance between a teacher and his most able student) student of the highly acclaimed sarod artiste Ustaad Amaan Ali Khan. Moreover, Srinjoy, occasionally guided by legendary sarod maestro Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan, went on a 3-month concert tour, in December 2013, to the Middle East countries.
This young sarod spellbinder of Senia Bangash Gharana (Senia Bangash School) has recently performed in a classical concert, 'Raaga and Rhythm 2nd Session', organised by Peshkar Cultural Forum at Chhayanaut Sangeet Vidyayatan, Dhaka on September 11, 2015.
It has charmed Srinjoy how Peshkar jumped the shark coining a constructive platform for classical music. Srinjoy congratulates this exemplary step of Peshkar, noticing a houseful classical concert, expecting it will sustain and suffuse the parampara (succession) of classical music.
Srinjoy started learning sarod-playing when he was 5. At the age of 10 he had his first live performance. Thus the journey of sarod began and took him to several flights home and abroad.
Yet, Bangladeshi classical music lovers' excitement and appreciation made Srinjoy feel seventh heaven at his first performances in Bangladesh at Dhaka's Chhayanaut and Mymensingh Zila Shilpakala Academy.
Srinjoy is renowned for his collaboration of different styles with other genres or instruments. Unique modern jugalbandi is his forte that refrains all from blinking. "I play for my audience, overlooking the first row full of critics, I always try to feel the mass that come only to enjoy classical music," he bluntly declared.
To share his future focus, Srinjoy states that wide-reaching promotion of Indian Classical Music and his gharana (Senia Bangash Gharana) is his journey of blood, sweat and tears which is flooding at present around the world with the help of his Guruji (master) Amaan Ali Khan who belongs to the 7th generation of Senia Bangash School.
Srinjoy reveals his upcoming concerts to us, which are at Easser House, at the end of September, in Bangalore in December and at Rewaj Music Festival in West Bengal. He went on sharing his wishes; one of those is composing music for film that would demand sarod and bandish (musical pattern) from his gharana. Even once he composed for a short-film titled Nibhrito: The Grays of Seclusion, directed by Subhranil Ray.
Speaking of a memorable performance, he says, "It was my performance with Badeguruji Amjad Ali Khan, almost 2 years ago in Bombay. I played Raaga Desh. Many prominent Bollywood film-makers like Farah Khan and international classical musicians like Ustaad Zakir Hussain applauded for me there."
"My one and only inspiration is Guruji Amaan Ali Khan," says Srinjoy with pride. "About rewaj (practice), I used to work out for 6-hour in off-days since 9am. Earlier, while practising 'sapat taan' (type of sargam, in ascending and descending order) for 100 times, if my finger slipped even at the 99th time, my mother used to start counting from the beginning," shares Srinjoy about her mother's contribution in his musical life. Even, his father is an incredible connoisseur of classical music.
In 'meend' (slides under glides) and his 'diri' (tough stroke) Srinjoy is crisp-clear-speedy. He is also a genius of 'ekhara' (several strokes coming out at a time). "I attempt new compositions on 'ekhara' and 'diri'. Guruji Amaan Ali Khan enlightens me while creating my own bandish," he expresses, "Indian classical music is all about freedom within discipline."
"Every raaga has a story of origin," he narrates, "for an example, 'Bilashkhani Todi' was created by Taansen out of grief on the day of his son Bilash Khan's death, while playing his routine performance at Samrat Akbar's mejlis. Indian Classical Music is all about feelings."
Srinjoy admits he overcomes his apprehension by recalling Guruji Amaan Ali Khan on stage. "But before each performance I touch sarod with my lips, do pranam (showing respect) and remain in deep silence for 2-3 minutes. I plead to my sarod, because I believe it has a life. It is sarod what I'm here for," he grins.
"On stage, one has to play new, as well as old - Ustaad Zakir Hussain said once," cites Mir Naqibul Islam about his stage performance. This young taala charmer of Farukhabad Gharana performed numerous national and international solo recitals like in Haldia Music Conference (India, April 2015), Lakshyapar Music Conference (India, Autumn Session in November 2014), and also performed a jugalbandi with Shri Ahsoke Paul in National Tabla Festival 2008.
Merging the style of pakhwaj with his tabla, he adds idiosyncratic tones to his overall playing with the blend of Varanasi Gharana creating a new-fangled sound aroma. Learning the beats under tutelage of tabla maestro Guruji Shri Ashoke Paul for the last 12 years, he also took talim (guidance) from Pandit Gopal Mishra (India). Recently this tabla-tutor of Chhayanaut Sangeet Vidyayatan has performed solo recital and jugalbandi with sarod artiste Srinjoy Mukherjee at Peshkar's 'Raaga and Rhythm 2nd Session' where legendary flute-ace Ustad Bari Siddiqui and tabla-whiz Guruji Ashoke Paul also enchanted the audience.
Naqib studies performances of 4 classical maestros - Ustaad Zakir Hussain, Ustaad Sabir Khan, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and Pandit Kumar Bose. Speaking of his idol and inspiration, he names his Badeguruji Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh and Guruji Shri Ashoke Paul. "Being the 34th generation of Farukhabad Gharana, it is my sole responsibility to uphold the heritage of my gharana and spread it as much as possible," he promises.
Naqib shares about his forthcoming performances: a tabla solo recital - 'A Journey of Beats' - at EMK centre, Dhanmondi on September 19, 2015; 'Lakshaypur Music Conference' in Narayanganj on October 29, 2015; 'Raaga and Rhythm 3rd Session' by Peshkar Cultural Forum on October 30, 2015 at Chhayanaut Sangeet Vidyayatan.
Being the Founder of Peshkar, Naqib plans, "We will launch a Youtube channel of Peshkar where one can watch our classical music concerts," he continues, "Peshkar is upto such a platform where classical juveniles will get chances to be on the floor with classical maestros." He believes if the number of classical shows does not increase in Bangladesh, artistes will not be born. Peshkar is also planning of a Gurukul one day only for tabla artistes where they will not only be trained as solo performers but also as jugalbandi-artistes.
Naqib narrates classical music concert experiences in Kolkata, "Audience are more advanced there. They appreciate what deserves to be; regretfully this hardly occurs in Bangladesh. Once a tabla demonstrator of Rabindra Bharati University embraced me after my performance. I miss that vibe here."
Naqib reveals others' attitude towards classical music and performers, "On my India visits, Indian airport employees greet and let me pass with respect when they come across my tabla; and just on the other side of the fence, Bangladeshi airport officials harass me enquiring about license and permission for carrying tabla!"
Naqib graduated from IBA, University of Dhaka. Dropping his corporate career he switched to classical music which is yet to evolve, in Bangladesh specifically, he often faces absurd questions or situations.
However, he talks about the future prospect of classical music in Bangladesh, "We have fondness of 'foreign'. We are completely depended on importing, considering every sector; we don't promote locals. If this situation is not changed, I hardly see any prospect here for classical artistes."
Naqib sorts out constructive solution, "In any musical programme, for instance, at opening ceremony of a school or any official party, if classical music is allotted atleast half an hour, it would be a good start. To go higher, number of classical concerts should soar. Television channels fixing minimum 2 slots a week for classical music can help."
Coming back to his personal musical life, Naqib goes nostalgic recalling one of his memorable performances, "It was around 1998. I was a student of Chhayanaut since childhood. Performing as an artiste at the same place where I used to attend classes earlier felt like coming back to the root. That applause is still vivid in my memory".
About his favourite bol, he mentions with respect, "Nothing charms me more than the bol of Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh."
Naqib exposes his magic, "In case of jugalbandi, I read the other artiste first. For instance, before performing with Srinjoy I studied his performances for hours everyday because the chemistry between the co-artistes is the tool that mesmerizes. I try to come up new in each performance. Taala is my canvas and bol is my colours. I have to be inside the canvas, but I can play with colours," Naqib adds.
Naqib, in his last minute of the chat, suggests learning to deal with nervousness on stage and to absorb it, "I don't forget on stage that I represent my gharana, Ustaads and predecessors and my guru Shri Ashoke Paul."
Ahmed Tahsin Shams is with
The Daily Observer