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Updated: December 16, 2010 21:22 IST

Memory in melody

MEENA BANERJEE
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Pandit Arun Bhaduri. Photo: Special Arrangement
The HIndu Pandit Arun Bhaduri. Photo: Special Arrangement

He is blessed with a rich voice, winsome looks and warm persona; but genuinely modest, he still retains the simplicity of the village he left decades back fascinated by classical music. In turn he fascinated students and listeners of lighter idioms along with more serious classical music buffs. As a trainer he is as sought after as his legendary mentor, the late A. Kanan. He never forgot his struggle as an aspiring musician and, therefore, extended unconditional help to all who arrived from rural areas in sincere pursuit of music. That is renowned vocalist, composer, teacher, author, lyricist, philanthropist, self-styled homeopath yet disarmingly naïve Pandit Arun Bhaduri for you!

The overwhelming response to the event organised by SurSadhak to mark 50 years of Bhaduri's musical journey, at the overflowing Madhusudan Manch proved that sincerity of purpose holds good even in these times of severely diluted moral values. Approached to give his magic mantra the venerated guru of almost all popular singers of Bengal's present generation said, “The magic happened when I joined ITC Sangeet Reasearch Academy as a scholar in 1978.”

Agreed, but what about the history of the aspirant who sailed through stringent tests? With a childlike laugh he said, “I do not have anything grand to offer. Radio was the sole musician available in Lalitakuri, our village in Murshidabad. As a young boy I was deeply influenced by what I heard on the radio and happily copied them at school and at play. I was under the spell of Shyamal Mitra and Satinath Mukhopadhyay's romantic numbers and Manabendra Mukhopadhyay's semi-classical songs. I won popularity in my college and city jalsas of Behrampore; samosas and rasgullas as remuneration felt great!”

On his early training, he said, “I was 20 when a classmate took me to Mohammad Abu Daud, a respected local classical vocalist and teacher. My formal training began under his loving care but I had no tanpura to practise with. I devised an ‘ektara' to do the daily riyaz and, encouraged by my ustad, began singing khayals since 1960. After college I applied for a job but the interviewer said, ‘If I select you, I will destroy a budding vocalist'.” Bhaduri's ustad then took him to meet his own guru, A. Kanan, who lived in what was then known as Calcutta. The young lad took part in Jhankar's classical music competition, patronised by Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. “Suddenly I found myself before the elite of Calcutta!” he recalled. “Thereafter frequent invitations to sing made me shunt between Behrampore and Calcutta. Meanwhile I was introduced to sarangi maestro Sagiruddin Khan who further groomed me. I would spend almost all my time at Kanan Saheb's. He was at the peak of his career; yet he would encourage me to learn, compose, sing, teach; and then one day he asked me to appear for the SRA-audition, accept the scholarship and shift base. It was a difficult decision, but I took the plunge.” The plunge brought its rewards. “Suddenly I entered the dream world inhabited by great masters. By that time, thanks to all my gurus, I was totally immersed in the music of Ustad Amir Khan and its meditative, emotional charm; but there was so much to learn! I came under the tutelage of Ustad Ishtiaq Hussain Khan and also Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. SRA gave me prestigious platforms, worldwide recognition and the rank of a Guru along with the scope to pursue my passion related to Bangla Gaan, my original passport to the music empire.”

Summing up, he said, “This journey spanning half-a-century has been humbling. I am overwhelmed by the love I received from my students and admirers.” The unassuming master was visibly moved.


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