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Rupa Chaudhury’s Maru Bihad sets the trend

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

There are many hidden talents in Calcutta who hardly find any opportunities outside. Rupa Chaudhury is one such singer. Her father, the late Nidanbandhu was a senior musician and a pupil of the late Vinayakrao Patwardhan of the Paluskar style. He also augmented his repertoire with inputs from other sources.

Rupa trained under him and also under the late Kumar Prasad Mukherjee who was a master of the Agra gharana gayaki. She was featured at the Madame Cama Hall recently in an evening concert. She sang a wonderful 'Maru Bihag' which is one of the most romantic evening melodies.

Rupa also sang a tappa in 'Bhairavi' with a degree of aggression and efficiency. Mukta Raste on the tabla and Sangeet Mishra on the harmonium lent superlative support.

"In the mid 1960s .the Hawaiian guitar exploded upon the Hindustani music scene through the pioneering musicianship of Brij Bhushan Kabra, In 1968, Kabra recorded the album "Call of the Valley" with Shivkumar Sharma on the santoor and Hariprasad Chaurasia on the bansuri, which won a Platinum Disc. Kabra's disciple Debashish Bhattacharya has been trotting the globe stunning the music world with Indian wizardry.

The speed with which the Hawaiian guitar has transformed itself into Indian classical guitar is phenomenal",writes musicologist Deepak Raja about the Hindustani classical guitar and its originator Brijbhushan Kabra who passed away recently after a prolonged illness.

Kabra was a musician of very high calibre and stature. He hailed from Jodhpur which was one of the finest seats of Hindustani music in the 1950s. The sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was the court musician of Jodhpur and he trained Brijbhushan as well as his brother Damodarlal. Brijbhushan experimented with the guitar and thought that it was the right medium of expression for him. No other musician had done this before.

The instrument could reproduce the glissando (meend) and the gamaks (oscillation) in a very effective manner. He had to struggle a lot to make the guitar acceptable to the orthodox musician community. In a conversation with this musician writer he had narrated how he played before an audition committee comprising giants like the late Vinayakrao Patwardhan and S N Ratanjankar answering all their searching questions and probing objections. In the end, he did win them over, which opened a new avenue for the instrument and also for the later generation of guitar players like Vishwamohan Bhatt, Debashish, Kamala Shankar, Deepak Kshirsagar and others.

'Call of the Valley' was a real landmark for not only Kabra but also for Shivkumar Sharma and Chaurasia. Kabra, a spiritually inclined person, slowly retreated into his reclusive world which was a big loss to the music world. His nephew Basant Kabra, a brilliant sarod player, will carry forward the family tradition. Kabra's pioneering contribution to the guitar and Hindustani music will be remembered forever.

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