FRIDAY REVIEW

Music forever

Somjit Das Gupta...Multifaceted artiste.

Somjit Das Gupta...Multifaceted artiste.  

WHEN SOME rich and famous musicians were busy campaigning for themselves hiring public relation offices, some were quietly struggling to save the fading musical legacy, vocal and instrumental. While some gurus were promoting their progenies without preparing them properly, even sidelining their more deserving disciples, some other gurus preferred to share space with their students to introduce them to the music lovers. And such disciples too, gave gurudakshina by directing all the limelight towards their gurus while preferring to stay in the background themselves. Such guru-shishya parampara is being maintained by Radhika Mohan Moitra and his disciple Somjit Das Gupta.

Moitra, the late exponent of sarod as well as related traditional instruments like the rabab, sur shringar, Mohan veena and sur rabab, not only taught Somjit these instruments but has also left this legacy for him to inherit. Somjit is now the only carrier of this musical legacy in the world. He not only inherits his guru's 60 antique instruments that date back to two to three centuries but also keeps buying such instruments wherever he sees them.

"I have got several offers from established companies to promote them with their logo. But I don't want to get into consumer race," he reasons. At present he has a collection 105 of these rare instruments which are "still playable". For instance, he is a proud possessor of 270-year-old Dhrupadi rabab, Mohan veena, dilbahar, navdeep that his guru invented and many more.

"My guru was media shy. But he would take me on stage and promote me wherever he could," says Somjit.

Earlier Somjit performed in Bangalore, Kolkata and Delhi. As his fame spread, in 2003 he was invited to France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria for performances. Now again, Somjit is going on a-two-month long tour this Sunday to perform and deliver lecture at Ciet de la Musique and Musee de la Musique in Paris, Saraswati House, a music conservatory in Italy, Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland, Vienna University in Austria and in Germany.

Also a trained terracotta and ceramic artist, Somjit has composed music in a compilation of Ritwik Ghatak films too. Also a doctorate from the University of Calcutta in Temple Architecture of Bishnupur, he is now teaching the instruments to a select few. "Four of my students are in India and one in Zurich. I tell them they should not aim for publicity or jump to perform without proper preparations. I have taken only those students who know it is not going to fetch them any money," he says.

Before you ask how he maintains such a big collection of rare musical instruments, he requests, "Please mention Mohan Lal Sharma, the man who is with me for five years and is the key restorer of my musical legacy."

Now, how many people acknowledge that?

RANA SIDDIQUI

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