Manali Bose and Sucheta Ganguly on their musical journey from Kolkata to Chennai. RITHVIK RAJA
Chennai is used to seeing young Carnatic musicians so when young Hindustani musicians Manali Bose and Sucheta Ganguly came down for the December music season, it was an opportunity to find out about what was happening in the Hindustani music field. Both singers are training as research scholars in ITC's Sangeet Research Academy (SRA). They were in Chennai to perform at Brhaddhvani's festival of Music. Excerpts from an interview:
How was it to perform in Chennai's December Festival for the first time?
Manali: It is not only our first time in the music season, but the first time in Chennai as well. It was very exciting to perform for a different audience.
Sucheta: It was a really nice experience. We thoroughly enjoyed performing here in Chennai, which has a musical buzz. We were also moved by the overwhelming response.
You mention a ‘different audience'. Can you tell me a little more about your performance and what are the new things you experimented with for this audience?
Manali: The concert was for 30 minutes. I actually sang two raags Bhatiyar from the Hindustani genre for 20 minutes and Hamsadhvani from the Carnatic genre for 10 minutes. Hamsadhvani is actually a very famous Hindustani raag so I just presented it with a different flavour for the Chennai audience.
What is Raag Bhatiyar?
(Manali immediately plunges into the rough outline of the raag) It is actually a derivative of the Marva Thaat (similar to the Melakartha scheme of Carnatic Music. There are 10 Thaats, like the 72 Melakarthas) I also sang a song ‘Ganapati Sathya Sangh' in Hamsadvani which is exactly like Vathapi Ganapathi.
Did you also perform a Carnatic Ragam, Sucheta?
Sucheta: Yes I did. I actually performed Jog for 20 minutes and then Bhairavi for 10 minutes.
When you perform a Raag, found in both genres, what is the difference in the way it is presented?
Sucheta: The Raag is the same. The difference lies in its treatment. The aesthetic appeal for both are totally contrasting and the decorative models also vary considerably.
When did you start learning Hindustani music?
Manali: My parents were singers and they felt that proper training was necessary for me to sing any form of music correctly. I had my formal training under Debjani Basu, a student of Pandit A .Kannan. (“AT Kannan as many wrongly refer to him ” she chuckles)
Sucheta: It was my father's choice. He was an excellent singer himself. His name is Bhajan Krishna Ganguly. He was also my first teacher. Seeing my interest, he helped me nurture and hone my talent. It was my decision to take up Hindustani Music as a profession.
Tell me a little bit more about your daily schedule at the SRA.
Manali: Hectic, but extremely educative. We come under the Kirana Gharana. Our daily schedule is pretty flexible as we follow the gurukula system. Generally, first we do our riyaz (Practice) and then go to the Guru's house for class for about four hours in the morning. Then lunch, rest, then practise again.
Sucheta: There is actually a huge archival database from which we can listen and learn whenever we have free time. There are also other classes in the afternoon - Dhrupad, English, Hindi, Thala etc. From time to time, great musicians come here and visit us. We would also have a lot of interactive sessions. We use this to learn so much by asking questions and learning from their life experiences.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Manali: No clue. We just want to give our best and work as hard as we can ... Exposure for young musicians is definitely much lower than in the south.
Sucheta: The scene is changing gradually. So we also have to find our places slowly. We have to make an impact in every performance. The field is highly competitive as there are many of us battling for those few opportunities.
Musically in five years?
Manali: I want to reach great heights in Hindustani music. I am working towards that.
Sucheta: I want to be the best. I have this undying need to be the best in whatever I do.
What other forms of music do you listen to?
Manali:. Rabindra Sangeet tops my list; Hindi film songs and a bit of Carnatic Music. We don't have much exposure to Carnatic there and I would love to listen to more.
Sucheta: A bit of western. I enjoy Marathi and South Indian Music and I know a few songs too. But my favourite has to be the old Hindi Classics! I love Madan Mohan.