And the melody continues

06dfrmohan   | Photo Credit: 06dfrmohan

One discovered an intriguing fact from renowned versatile musician Joydeep Ghosh, the concluding artiste of the eagerly awaited annual soiree organised by Kolkata’s Ballygunge Maitreyee Music Circle, dedicated to the late Sangeetacharya Radhika Mohan Moitra (Radhubabu), recently. On the occasion, his sarod etched a rare raga, Kedari-Marwa, with admirable clarity. In the presentation, both Kedar and Marwa remained intertwined; like in a braid; without giving up their identity.

Such an interpretation, replete with unexpected bends, does not allow complacency, neither to the player nor to his listeners. In that sense, Ghosh’s recent recital was definitely one by a maestro only for initiated listeners. The latter is a dwindling community even in Kolkata nowadays but going by Ghosh’s usual selection of ragas, one is inspired to ask, what encourages him to choose rare ragas for concerts.

His answer is very simple. ‘I was only five when I started learning at the feet of great masters Anil Roychoudhury and Radhubabu; and later from Padmabhusan Buddhadev Dasgupta. They all belong to the famous Senia Shahajahanpur Sarod gharana, revered for their enviable melodic treasures. I also learnt tabla and vocal music from venerable gurus. Subsequently, I came under the wings of the erudite and versatile master Bimalendu Mukherjee, a doyen of the famous Imdadkhani gharana of sitar and surbahar. Under their priceless guidance, I assimilated vocalism, instrumentalism and the style of rhythmic play along with raga elaboration.

“The simple fact is that my gurus did not tell me what were common and what ‘rare’ ragas were. They all came naturally as sister ragas, with their key phrases loud and clear, during the learning process of one major raga; even the jod-ragas (blend of more than one) were taught to me without much ado; just as they did not categorise any instrument and made me learn to play sarod, surshringar and mohan-veena.’

But isn’t Mohan-veena a newly invented instrument?

“Unfortunately, very few remember the history of original Mohanveena, conceived and invented by Radhubabu in early 1948,” states Ghosh.

“Once, around 1944, he played surshringar in a jugalbandi (duet) with the famous Beenkar Ustad Sadiq Ali Khan at Lucknow. The concert inspired him to design a unique instrument in which the playable materials of both sitar and sarod could be appropriately exploited and the tonal quality of Rudra-veena could be equally maintained. Since he was proficient in both, having had his training from Ustad Mohammad Ameer Khan of Shahajahanpur gharana and Ustad Inayat Khan of Etawah gharana in sarod and sitar respectively, Radhubabu’s experiment succeeded.

“The instrument’s majestic tonality impressed Thakur Jaidev Singh, the renowned musicologist who was the then Chief Producer, All India Radio, Delhi. In 1950, Thakur Saheb named the instrument Mohan-veena and also arranged an archival recording for AIR, followed by an extensive interview of Radhubabu, its inventor. Radhubabu was invited in several music festivals all over India to play the Mohan-veena. Some of his rare recordings for AIR archives are available in compact discs as precious documents.”

Ghosh says, “So, despite the emergence of Hawaiian guitar-based another instrument in the same name almost after 50 years, the original Mohan-veena exists along with its own unique excellence till date through some of devoted torchbearers of Radhubabu’s legacy. I am also a humble exponent of Mohan-veena.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 12:30:27 PM |

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