Shyamal Lahiri’s Residence at Chandi Ghosh Road, Kudghat.
About the speaker
Renowned Vocalist, Son of Legendary Musician Pandit Chinmoy Lahiri
Improvisation, Silsila, Raag, Rag, Shyam Kauns, Nand Kauns, Shyam Ranjini, Shubhra, All Bengal Music Conference, Lala Babu, Alauddin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Sarodia, Suresh Chakraborty, Nanda Babu, Suddha Gandhar, Komal Gandhar, Jog kauns
My father Pundit ChinmoyLahiri did much musical improvisation that can’t be counted. He not only improvised existing ragas but also created new ragas as well. He named them as Shyamkosh, Nandkosh, Shyamranjani and Shubhra.
Baba performed this raga in All Bengal Music Conference and then Lalababu asked him the source of this new raga. Actually, it was Allauddin Khan Saheb who wanted to know that from where it derived . So, my father told them that it was during a tour with Suresh Chakraborty, a person named Nandababu was with them. He was a learned person and an enthusiast. They daily discussed about the use of twin gandhar in raga Jog, there’s also raga Jogkosh with the usage of both gandhar. From all these discussions my father found the seed of a new raga and he created it with all the finery of Bistar, Taan and Bandish. But he insisted that as Nandbabu was the first to open the thread, thus the raga was named after him, hence Nandkosh.
Note: Contradictions are not uncommon in Indian Classical Music. Some old timers like Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra used to believe that the raga Nanda Kauns was originally composed by Pt. Suresh Chandra Chakraborty. One can find the reflection of the same idea in Bangalapedia. – Editor
Reference: Banglapedia http://en.banglapedia.org/index.php?title=Lahiri,_Chinmoy accessed on 07 June 2017.
Data processed at SAP-DRS Lab, Department of Instrumental Music, Rabindra Bharati University
In those days in Bengal, there was Tarapada Chakraborty, who was a star artist of that time. So at that time, Bimala Prasad Babu…
-Kindly let us know the full name of Bimala Prasad Babu.
-Bimala Prasad Ray Chowdhury. He was a great singer of those days. It was at his home that the program was going on. He had addressed the entire audience that day and requested them not to leave the place after the program because a new artist is in Kolkata, and he wished everyone to listen to him sing.
So what happened here was that, father was known by the name of C M Lahiri, because back in Uttarpradesh he was still known by that name. Though at the University, people knew him just by CM, because there they know their professors by the short forms only. When the announcement was made, everyone was outside, and no one had any particular hurry to come back inside. Right after the performance of a stalwart, no one was kind of interested in listening to a new artist. At this moment, father said, “Please bear with me for five minutes, please come inside and sit. If you do not like my performance, you are always free to leave. I promise I won’t take more than five minutes to wrap up with my music.”
One or two people came inside, among whom, one was Shailen Chattopdahyay. His daughter was the first pupil of my father. She was called Meera Bandopadhyay then, who later became the renowned vocalist Vidushi Meera Chattopadhyay. So my father began performing, and slowly with time more people came inside to listen to him. In a few minutes, I noticed that almost all the audience had come back. Then, the situation became such that there were requests from the audience, which was very surprising. My father was very inclined towards Taana, and would do the Taanas in circles. For example, the Gadda Ghasit Taana, , which literally means the sound of throwing a Gadda. There were other such phenomenon, and father started to speak to the audience about it in brief, which attracted them even more. Thus, right after this program, father had already gotten five pupils from Kolkata to give music lessons to. Among these five was Meera Chatterjee, the daughter of Shailen Chatterjee. There was also one by the name of Bitun from Howrah, Gobindalal Bose, Gobindalal Bandopadhyay and a few more to name. Then there was Minu Kaka, or Mrinal Kanti Chakraborty, who proposed to my father to teach him music. At that time, we used to live at Bhawanipore.
This incident took place near about 1948. 47?
I wasn’t even born in 1946, 47.
Prior to that?
And where was his house at that time?
There is the Ganja Park at Bhawanipore. Our house was right behind the Ganja Park.
He was very young at that time- maybe 25 or 26 years old. He used to live at Dhumdhumar at Dhaka, where he used to work at the Radio also. At that time, the Chief Producer was Suresh Chandra Chakraborty, whose son later became the editor for Ananda Bazar Patrika. Suresh Babu had become a very important figure in the career of my father. He had helped my father with a lot of things including taking him to venues, organizing events for him, etc. It happened once that a person belittled my father’s Laykari and said that it was not a big deal to perform.
So he asked the audience to pick up their hands one by one in any random matra and he would take tehai, instantly from that specific matra. I still am getting Goosebumps thinking about that.
Everyone was ready to entrap him, and was raising their hands now and then and father kept on doing the Tehai accordingly. So this raged on like a storm for a long time. At that time, in our Khayal and also Bangladeshi Khayal, there was a mid part, right after the Bistar, it was rarely to be found on that time, there was bolbani in Dhrupadi style. I remember him doing it with Bol Bani (words), which together comprised of the Laykari. This too comprised of a number of Tehai and a number of improvisation Laykari in derhigun,dwigun, and chow gun. He attempted several of these Laykari and used to reach at the ‘Shom’ in an incredible way. This whole procedure was a unique one. You can’t imagine, I can still see it in front of my eyes while talking about it. He would do it with such ease. Players who were not accustomed with playing with him never got a chance in these times. So this was his style of singing. And later in life, he himself started to change and alter his style. During this time, people used to say that he acquired this style from Dilip Chandra Bedi. I have never met Dilip Chandra Bedi, though I have listened to his records and seen him at places. I remembered that he too did a variety of Palta. My father also worked with Palta and he also did a lot of Taana too. For example, he did the Gadda Ghashit Taana, Tehara Sapat,ChoukhaSapat, etc. All these experiments and innovations that father used to do were his brain child.
Let me say a few words about Ali Akbar Khan, who was practically my Gurubhai. This was because; Ustad Allauddin Khan had wanted Ali Kabar khan to tie his Naara with Allauddin Khan’s own Guru’s family. So he kept Ali Akbar Khan for a few days at my Guru Dabir Khan’s place, who hailed from that family, so that the first Taalim came from him. That connection makes him my Guru Bhai.
He loves me very much, talks with me for a couple of hours whenever we meet, and urges me to take sweets and other food, a very cordial relation we share. I have also taken my wife to meet him, and he had welcomed her with great warmth, chatted with us for two or three hours.
Anyway, Ali Akbar Khan was a person who was oblivious to whoever was playing with him, or whatever he was playing.
It happened so at the Tanen Music conference, that Ali Akbar Khan had started to play with Pandit Shamta Prasad on the table. He completed the Alaap and started a Gat in Dhamaar at a very Vilambit laya. Shamta Prasad had to sit idle, playing only a theka and nothing else. Ali Akbar Khan, who always played with his head down, watched for some time, and then, with a smile, increased the Laya a little and went into Teen Taal, and asked Pt. Pt. Shamta Prasad to play. I have been witness to this, this being in the 1960s.