60/2/7 Kabi Bharati Sarani, Lake Road. Kolkata- 700029
About the speaker
Swapna Mukherji is a well-known Sitar Player. She is the daughter as well as a disciple of Sri Amiya Bhushan Chattopadhyay [disciple of Pt. Lakshman Bhattacharya]. She was a graded Staff artist of All India Radio, served both in Raipur and Calcutta Station of All India Radio.
Sitar, Swapna Mukherjee, Amiya Bhushan Chattopadhyay, Lakshan Bhattacharya, Gharana, Moody, 1915, 1954, Lucknow, Omrao Khan, Ghulam Mohammad Khan, Tazish Khan, Surbahar, Bamacharan Bhatttacharya, Jitendra Mohan bhattacharya, Kolkata, Dhrupada Anga,
Amlan Das Gupta is a Professor of English, Jadavpur University, He has built an archive of North Indian classical music at the School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University. He has also offered a course on the history of North Indian Classical Music. Education – University of Oxford.
Amalendu Dasgupta, Delhi, Radio, Akashvani, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ludhiana, Ali Baksh Khan, Kale Khan, Sarengi, Pancham
Dr. Amlan Dasgupta Speaks :
I heard this story from my father. My father worked for the Radio as a news, news editor in Delhi in early years of Akashvani, and even though this is a story from Delhi, it is worth thinking about because it involves a figure who was very close to the Calcutta music scene, that’s Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sahab. Now my father who was you know, who’s musical taste was entirely built when he was a student in Kolkata then he had gone to work in Delhi, He found a way of visiting Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab when he was staying at somebody’s house, some rich person’s house at Delhi. I think this was that ill fated visit when he was fed on various kinds of vegetables and so he was very very depressed and then he organised, he did not eat at the house, he organised a kind of kitchen outside in the lawn and personally supervised it, and he got his ‘Ghee’ from Ludhiana or somewhere like that. That how this stories are. My father went to see him and there were lots of stories. He sat and waited for him, and he even looked at him, hours past, whatever, so at one point they got talking at least Ghulam Ali Khan he Sahab started talking. The story is of the variant stories about cow and Dog and Bird and the waves all these things. It was really beautiful stories that went like this and this amazing this amazing connection that Ghiulam Ali Khan Sahab’s music had with nature, there were various kind of expressing the basic relationship with nature I think that is in story for me. But this story is something different. This story is about, when he was very young and he was lying in the lap of his father Ali Baksh Khan Sahab and there was concert going on in his house, the house of Ali Baksh Khan Sahab in which Kale Khan Sahab was singing and there was somebody else I forget the name, the name is not clear. So both the ustad were singing and when dono ustad pancham pe khari, and stopped and the sarengiya was about to play the Pancham this child started crying in Pancham. Then dono ustads stopped singing and said ‘Yeh Baccha Kaun Hay’? ‘Yeh Aapka Ghulam Hai’ That’s why he was called Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab. That’s the story.
Verbatim by Rajeswary Ganguly Banerjee
Note: Although this anecdote describes about an event in Delhi, this is of immense significance. This is connected to Ustd. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan as a baby and the event that was responsible for his naming as Ghulam Ali is portrayed here. BGK was born in 1902. So, the incident may have happened when he was between 1 to 3 years old. Khansahib had a very intimate connection with the city of Calcutta. – Editor
Data processed at SAP-DRS Lab, Department of Instrumental Music, Rabindra Bharati University.
During the early part of 20th century, the Calcutta music scene was, at least the vocal music was dominated by Tawaifs and the Baijis, not that their male counter parts in the sense that the most popular classical singers of that point of time were all tawaifs, I mean you can name anybody,
you can name Malkajan, you can name Gaharjan, you can name Manoda Sundari , Krisna Bhamini right up to Indubala, Angurbala, and everyone, and they were much more popular than their counter parts. Now where did they learn their music from? It’s a two way process, in some cases it was found that the tawaifs they themselves took fancy on some good looking male musicians and taught them music, they mostly learnt from Sarengi players, because Sarengi players use to you know accompany so many artists all over India, and they use to pay the sarengiwalas as per the Bandishes, may be one sarengiwalas has played with Alladiya Khan, and she liked the Bandish and maybe she will pay hundred rupees or fifty rupees or whatever it is, and sometimes they used to employ ustads themselves, and the terms of employment was, that ustad would you know never teach any other ‘Baais’. So it is you know captive ustad.
Like for example ’Gauri Shankar Mishra’ was captive to ‘Gauhar jaan’ and ‘Gauhar jaan’ only allowed ’Gauri Shankar Mishra’ when she became old and she moved away from Calcutta, at that point of time ’Gauri Shankar Mishra’ teach ‘Indubala’ and even ‘Vishmadev Chattopadhyay’ and lot of people. But till such time ‘Gauhar jaan’ did not release ’Gauri Shankar Mishra’, ’Gauri Shankar Mishra’ could only you know only teach ‘Gauhar jaan’ the Bandishes. Now in the case of the ‘ Dhrupadiyas’ of Bengal the situation was different because they never learnt from any ‘Tawaifs’ because mostly the ‘Tawaifs’ sang ‘Khayal ’and ‘Thumri’, but not ‘Dhrupads’,
and the ‘Dhrupadiya’ of Bengal like ‘Aghor Chakraborty’ ‘ Gopeshwar Bandopadhyay’ or ‘Satyakinkar Bandopadhyay’, they avoided those class of musicians, not that they didn’t like them, they liked their music, but they never you know, they never imitated their style of music, and these ‘Tawaifs’ also, they were very eager to learn ‘Dhrupad’, but unfortunately their doors were shut to the middle class Bengali Brahmin ‘Dhrupad’ singers. So when, Maharaja Jyotindra Mohan Tagore, because Satyakinkar Babu was a employed by lots of the Maharajas at that time, like Maharaja of Natore was there, Maharaja of Lalogola, Maharaja of Pachakot and eventually he became court musician of Maharaja Jyotindra Mohan Thakur after Piyara Saheb left the court of Jyotindra Mohan Tagore. But one of the terms of his contract with the Maharaja was that he will never urge him or force him or to teach any ‘Tawaif’ because all the zamindars and rajas, they had their favourite ‘Taawaifs’, whom they used to groom.
Like take the case of Jadumoni who was groomed by Shourindra Mohan Tagore, I mean even Kesarbai had one such, you know mentor, who paid for Kesarbai’s tuitions for Alladiya Khan. In the case of many ‘Tawaifs ‘ they were supported by many wealthy patrons to learn music. But Satyakinkar Babu never you know, taught any ‘Tawaifs’ and that was one of terms of, I mean I gave you social picture of that time also. So in this context it is important.
Can we please have the name of that person, who patronised Kesarbai Kerkar?
Yah, it was Seth Dhulichand, I mean there were lot of patrons but one was Seth Dhulichand, was originally from Kolkata, then The Khetri, Shyamlala Khetri , their shop is still existing, khetri jewellers, Calcutta, bhawanipore, Punya Cinema, khetri jewellers, and there were other patrons from Bombay, I mean I forget their names, but these two were definitely patron of Kesarbai from Bombay(Calcutta).
The first anecdote is about two great musicians, one Sangeetacharyay Satyakinkar Bandopadhyay and The other Ustad Faiyaz Khan, and it happened at the house of Maharaja Jyotindra Mohan Tagore at Pathuriaghata, The Grandson of Sourindra Mohun Tagore (?). I heard it from Sangeetacharyay Satyakinkar Bandopadhyay himself.
He said that during that time of royal patronage The royal patrons always looked down on the musicians. In the sense that if they are singing they are expected to sing at a posture, sitting on the ground with tanpuras, pakhawaj, table whatever it is and The Rajas and The Maharajas used to sit in couch, and just listened to their music from a elevated position. He never liked that short of arrangement and once at the house of Jyotindra Mohan Tagore when he was a court singer, in fact Satyakinkar Bandopadhyay was a court singer to Jyotindra Mohan Tagore of Pathuriaghata.
Faiyez Khan and Satyakinkar Babu was suppose to sing in honor of The Maharaja of Gwalior and His Excellency Nizam who were visiting Jyotindra Mohan Tagore at that time and He arranged a musical evening of these two great masters
and The first artist was Faiyaz Khan, and he sang Alap and Khayal seating on the ground and Nizam and Mahraja of Gwalior and Jyotindra Mohan Tagore they were just enjoying the music seating on the sofas. And when the turn came for Satyakinkar Babu to sing he just refused to sing. He said that I am not accustomed to sing in this manner because I am a worshiper of Goddess Saraswati and I cannot bring her down to that level where Saraswati would be just, you know, seating beneath the feet of a mortal, so he also reprimanded Faiyaz Khan Sahab, he said that he was such a great Ustad, he was such a great master of music, how he can you know, are you not proud enough of you know, of your music, and if you are proud of your music then how you can humiliate the muse of music in this fashion, you should never do this in future, you are quite rich, you can afford not to sing, and he said that I can also afford not to sing and I will not sing. So what happened, there was an altercation Jyotindra Mohan Tagore and Satyakinkar Babu and to avoid any other, you know untoward incidents or embarrassment a makeshift arrangement was made, another spring sofa was brought at par with the Maharajas and Satyakinkar Babu said that you know he used to , he sat on the sofa but unfortunately it was a spring sofa, during that time, and he was, his entire thing went down with the spring, with his pakhawaj player and everything, and it was so uncomfortable, but he said at least you know the pride of music was saved for that day. That was one incident which he told me. This period must 1927-28, during that time.
This anecdotes speaks of Ustad Vishmadev Chatterjee in his child age of 5 years/7 years. He was born in 1909. Therefore 1914 and 1916 have been identified as the time when he was 5 and 7 year old. – Editor
SailashekharMitra is a mine of old stories, he is a record collector lives in Bagbazar. He told me that in early days of gramophone records one had to put his face almost inside a huge cone like microphone to record a song. Presently in an upcoming film about Gauhar Jan which we have seen in a press show, announces that Gauhar Jan was the first recorded voice of India. But it is not true. In 1902 or 03 when foreigners came with recording equipment they could not find any female to sing through their instruments. Someone suggested them to go to theatre where women artists used to sing. So they went there and recorded the voice of Shashimukhi first. Then on Friday they recorded the voice of Indumukhi.
After then on Monday it was the voice of Gauhar Jan that they recorded. So, she was not the first woman, she became the third woman as far as I know. I asked him, how could you remember whether it was Friday or Saturday? He answered thatit is all printed in the outer cover of the disk, time, date everything. After they recorded Gauhar Jan they returned back to London and then to Germany where the discspublished. Later in 1911 they again returned and recorded a few more. They were quite famous then and it posed no problem to find voices. This is the first recording stories of gramophone.
Residence of Prof. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay, 3/1/1D, Padmapukur Road, Kolkata 700092
On Irfan Muhammad Khan
Irfan Md. Khan is an established Sarod Player. The scion of Lucknow Shahjanpur Gharana Sarod player. He represents the Lucknow-Shahjahanpur Gharana which has produced eminent Sarod players like Ustad Enayet Khan (1790-1883), Ustad Asadullah Khan Kaukab (1852-1919), Ustad Karamatuilah Khan (1848-1933), Prof. Sakhawat Hussain Khan (1875-1955), also his illustrious father Ustad Umar Khan (1916-1982) and his uncle Ustad Ilyas Khan (1924-1989) the famous Sitar player of Lucknow.
Asadulla Khan, Kaukab Khan, kaukabh, Pratibha Devi, Debi, Karamatullah Khan, sangeet sabha, Motilal Nehru, 1908, Paris World fare, broken sarod, Banjo, Dwarkin, Kaukab patent Banjo, Betel. Calcutta,
– After the death of Kaukav Khan, Pratibha Devi called Karamatullah Khan.
– Tell us something about Pratibha Devi.
– Pratibha Devi was the daughter-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore. She had opened a music school. I think it was in Bhowanipore, or maybe somewhere in North Kolkata. My father had told me where it was, but I don’t remember it. There he was the teacher. In the meantime, what happened was, when Kaukav Khan was teaching, Motilal Nehru took him to Allahabad. Before that, Motilal Nehru had sent the two brothers to the Paris World Fair in 1908.
– Who were the two brothers?
– Kaukav Khan and Karamatullah Khan. They had been taken to represent India. They went to Paris and the Great Exhibition. There is a very interesting anecdote. Kaukav Khan’s sarod had broken. Now who could build him a sarod in Paris? He was very upset. The concert was just after two days. So he asked around whether there was anyone who could build him a sarod. As he was roaming around, he spotted a banjo. He bought the banjo and shaved off the frets to make it plain. And he played the banjo in place of his sarod at the concert, like the Sarod. Since then, the banjo became his signature, like his patent. Here in Kolkata, there was Dwarkin Shop owned by Gyan babu’s father. Banjos were available there. The banjo had become his patent. They even called it ‘Kaukuv patent banjo’.
– ‘Indian Banjo’?
-That’s what they wrote on the records. If someone went to the shop to buy it, they’d say, “I want the Kaukab Patent Banjo.” He has seven or eight records where he has played that banjo.