-yes, he used to play, he was a renowned Pakhawaj player he used to accompany with Dhrupad. There was also Subodh Chandra of Janai, who had the nickname of Kebol Babu. I can’t remember now whether he was called Subodh Bannerjee or Subodh Mukherjee.yes, Subidh Chandra Mukherjee, he also used to play Pakhawaj.
It was in this very house where Durlabh Babu died in?
Yes, He died while he was playing the instrument. The condition was perhaps called Apoplexy. He got a cerebral stroke while playing the instrument- when suddenly his fingers had become still. He was most probably playing by the side of Dhrupadiya ,Mahim Mukherjee. When he was sick that day, he was brought here to lie down. He couldn’t be taken to a hospital for treatment even. He was treated for three or four days at this home. He drew his last breath after the third day and he died here.
When did it happen? During fifties?
No, this happened way before the fifties. I have with me the biography of Durlabh Bhattacharya, which had come out in a magazine. The magazine itself dated back to 1939, so we can naturally induce that he died in the 1930s. In either 1938 or 39, some newspaper had printed a special edition on his life and his biography was in that newspaper. His grandson is still alive, Chanchal Bhattacharya.
A lot of people used to come to Radhikaprasad to take music lessons. For example, there was Girija Shankar Chakraborti, Yogendranath Bannerjee who was a famous Dhrupad singer, Amarnath Mukhopadhyay who too was a Dhrupad singer. I have seen him in person and have also heard him sing. There was also Mohini Mohan Mishra, father of Nirmala Mishra, who used to be frequent at our house. He used to play the Veena. Have you ever seen a Veena? How could you even… But you must know Nirmala Mishra? I had met her just a few years back. I knew Mohini Mohan to be a very irate person, though he always interacted with us in a friendly manner. So I asked him once, whether his father was a man of temper, and he replied in affirmative to it. His older brother, Murari Mohan Mishra, who died very young, also was a brilliant singer. It was after him, that the Murari Sangeet Sammelan would be held in this very house. Here, we used to have a picture of him, and unfortunately I have no clue now about where it is now.
Once, Nirmala Mishra said to me that there is a picture of her brother, and she wished to see it.
I wasn’t aware that the picture had already been destroyed by then, and I said, “Yes. But don’t you too have a picture of him at your place?”
“No, actually I have never met my own brother and have never come across a picture of him even. No, there is no picture of him at our house.”
In shock, I said, “What! He was your own brother, and you don’t have a picture of him at your household?”
I could not show her the picture, though I remembered that I had seen the picture. He used to sing really well. He died so young, and in his memory, the Murari Sangeet Sammelan continued, which I too have attended. Later, it was reduced to a very private program. But I have heard, that when it had started, renowned artists of Kolkata also used to come to the Murari Sangeet Sammelan.
Someone by the name of Nalin Chandra Malakar had come with Pandit Jnanendra Prasad Goswami. I have met him a lot of times. He lived a long life too. In the decade of the 1980s, he died. He used to come almost every day.
Whatever incidents happened here, he was a witness to everything. He used to sing, and was a disciple of Pandit Jnanendra Prasad Goswami. He also served his Guru, as was the rule of those days. He used to live in this house with Pandit Jnanendra Prasad Goswami and his wife Radhika Prasad Goswami and also serve them.
Radhika Prasad Goswami brought his nephew Janendra Prasad Goswami in this house. Rabindranath Tagore came to this house often, stayed here and sometimes put tunes to his lyrics. He was very respectful of Radhika Prasad. Later he took him to Shantiniketan with him. But Janendra Prasad Goswami remained here after his uncle left for Shantiniketan. Earlier Radhika Prasad Goswami lived in Raja Manindra Chandra Nandi’s house in Kashimbazar. Before that I don’t remember the name of his residence. But he took his nephew from Bankura and returned here to live.
On 9th December 1934 All Bengal Music Conference started. Ustad Alauddin Khan came with his Maihar Band. There was also Pandit Timirbaran and Faiaz Khan perhaps. I couldn’t remember whether Pandit Omkarnath Thakur came that year or not but the inaugural song was Vandemataram. In later years whenever the conference started the inaugural song was sung by Pandit Omkarnath Thakur. The full song was sung by him and there was a CD of his voice singing the full song. Now the part of it is regarded as the National Song. Later when he could not come or sing his disciple Bijanbala Ghosh Dastidar would sing the song. She had a sweet voice and she sang kheyal.
Afterwards Pandit Binayak Rao Patbardhan sang the inaugural song. Binayak Rao stayed in this house many times. Anyway, it was a tradition to sing Vandemataram as inaugural song in the conference and someone had to sing it. I couldn’t remember all their names. But it was a tradition to start the programme with Vandemataram.
The programme always started with Dhrupad. There were many great Dhrupad singers then. Ustad Nasiruddin Khan sang once, I remember. Ustad Abdul Karim Khan came just before the year he passed away. He departed this life in 1937, so it must be in 1936 that he came. He was invited the next year but unfortunately, he passed away. This was his sole visit to Calcutta.
Nasiruddin Khan was the father of great Dagar brothers Ustad Mainuddin Khan and Ustad Aminuddin Khan. He was himself a great Dhrupad singer. But he also performed just once because he passed away after that. Alladia Khan Saheb came here to perform once. He was very old then. It was common gossip that he was almost a centenarian then. The organizers who invited him was in constant fear whether they could send him back to his place safe and sound. I heard it from Bhupendra krishna. I didn’t know how he performed at his age. But he was a great musician. He was the Guru of Moghubai and Kishori Amonkar’s mother’s. Moghubai sang here but not Kishori Amonkar. I don’t remember the year when Moghubai performed. Alladia Khan Saheb, Nasiruddin Khan Saheb and Abdul Karim Khan Saheb all visited and sang only once in the music conference.
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.