NITN | @notintownlive | 25 Jun 2018
From his passion for Indian classical music to his favourite football team in the FIFA World Cup, Santoor maestro Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya talks about his choices in life in this free-wheeling interview with Subhojit Roy.
What led you to create Raag Ganga?
Hindustani classical music, unlike many other classical musical forms has unique identity. It is a continuous evolving process, thereby giving its practitioners the freedom to try and bring out greater nuances and a higher degree of perfection. I always felt that Mother Ganges is the lifeline to billions over the past thousands of years and we certainly have been ill treating our mother. If you trace the origin of the river till its merger with the Bay of Bengal, we find the tremendous amount of abuse we heap on the river. Harmful effluents, carcasses, chemicals, almost everything. But - despite all this - the Ganges like an ever-forgiving mother takes it all in her stride while flowing and providing a lifeline to millions on its banks. So my homage was to this great river. And I developed this special Raag. There are over 300 major and minor ragas and now Raag Ganga adds to the wide repertoire.
How important is vocational integration of musicians?
One of my primary concerns about Indian classical musicians have been to create opportunities for them, to gainfully provide income sources through the means of music. Here I would like to draw a parallel between degree/diploma courses which are conducted by government and private educational institutions, which are gateways towards employment. But for musicians, we find there are lack of opportunities and facilities for similar employment or income opportunities. The future is very uncertain for them. So I have been thinking of drawing up a plan of action where such degree/diploma can be provided to musicians towards gainful employment. Musicians need a lot financial and social security, which is gravely lacking in a country like India. In fact music can also form an important source for employment for the youth. It is just not the musician but the support staff, management of musicians professionally, music event organizers - it is a multifarious format.
You had launched a Gurukul Santoor Ashram, what is its present condition?
Santoor Ashram has not taken off the way I had envisioned. It is primarily due to lack of corporate support. I have been trying to raise funds through my charity concerts. But it is corporate or institutional support that we need badly to make such formats successful. However, I am eternal optimist and that is precisely the reason why I took up music as my profession foregoing a lucrative career and am hopeful that finally support shall come forth.
How do you integrate the rigorous demands classical music makes on a student with the ‘multi-tasking’ approach prevalent today?
I strongly believe that human faculties allow multitasking. It is only the level of sincerity and dedication that makes the learning process perfect. It is the question of perfect practice that can make a perfect musician. I never put pressure on my students in terms of hours. I rather expect them to practice the notes perfectly.
How important is taking up social causes for celebrated personalities and do you think Indian celebrities are socially responsible enough?
I feel that this is the only way we can give back something to the world which has given us everything. When I had first adopted the cause of polio eradication program of Rotary International, many had ridiculed the idea (of course behind my back). What is he trying to do -- a classical musician espousing a cause like that! But I felt that if others could spread the message, I could do it better. I am always directly in connect with my audience and fans unlike screen or other personalities. Look at people like Cristiano Roanoldo, Lionel Messi, Angelina Jolie, Warren Buffet, Ratan Tata , Rajashree Birla and the volume of money they have donated in charity, it is mind boggling. People like Amitabh Bachchan or others have only been doing promotion of such causes. But I feel it is important and a necessity to promote causes and act responsibly for all of us.
Since you mentioned Ronaldo & Messi, any favourites for the World Cup 2018?
Let me a elaborate a little. I am amazed by the rise of African and Asian countries. Skill set and technique have improved by leaps and bounds. My favourite remains Brazil.
About Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya:
Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya, an Indian classical musician, is a notable 'santoor' player upholding the Maihar 'gharana'. He has also variously contributed to music at large as well as to the musical instrument. He has also shown how the santoor can be used as an accompaniment for various genres of music. He has travelled across the globe with his music, playing at venues such as Royal Albert Hall (UK), Palace-de-beaux (Belgium), Theater- De-La-Viile (France), Apollo Theatre (Spain), Jubilee Auditorium (Canada), and Kremlin (Russia). He has released over 150 musical CDs and cassettes till now.
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