Ruled by the 'ragas'

Fresh voice

Ruled by  the 'ragas'

Classical music buffs are always on the lookout for a fresh voice to regale the concert scene. While most such windfalls are commonly spotted during the winter and autumn, when music festivals are at their peak countrywide, the recent Summer Festival of the India International Centre, Delhi, scored brownie points by presenting artist Deborshee Bhattacharjee of Kolkata’s reputed music institution, The Sangeet Research Academy.

Blessed with a deep baritone vocal timbre, this sprightly artiste presented his debut concert in the capital, having mesmerised audiences at several concert platforms in India, Dubai, UK and Canada. A disciple of the renowned Pandit Ajoy Chakravarty of Patiala Gharana, he has been under the guidance of this maestro for the last 15 years and is currently a Senior Scholar at the institution.

Independent thinking

Speaking of his overall understanding of Hindustani classical music, Deborshee stresses vehemently that he deliberately strives to veer away from being a clone of his revered guru. “I never imitate his style of singing, but I must admit that my guru is the life blood of my music. From him, not only have I learnt the technique of singing, but also imbibed lessons that have withstood the test of time. Alongside rendering the music Guruji has taught us, his disciples, we have also learnt performance elements like conducting ourselves on and off stage, and much more. It is he who has encouraged me to circumvent the traditional approach to gharana music. Hence, today, I have a favourite cache of a handful of musicians whom I admire, but what I present is music I have made of my own.”

Spelt out in concrete terms, his concerts, he says, present classical music “not as something to be heard, but as something to be seen. So when I begin a recital, I try to create that mental imagery wherein the picture of the raga, of the classicism, and my personality, are imprinted on the concert.”

Hence the choice of the raga that he is going to present is vital to the overall format of the music. In a place like Delhi which has a harsh afternoon sun followed by dusk, when the oppressiveness of the summer is waning, he gave us a demonstration of this thought process by choosing to sing Raga Multani. The repetitive oscillations of the komal rishab, coupled with the main note of pancham, stamped the melodic signature of the raga. In his interpretation of it, Deborshee employed inputs such as clarity in his enunciation of the words of the bandish, and more importantly, a deep emotional overlay to the presentation.

Soul singer

What audiences took back home that evening was this artiste’s capability to enlarge music’s many intricacies. His outlay of taan patterns made audiences sit on the edge of their seats, spellbound by the range of his paltas and his capacity to integrate them into a chhand design that rounded off the cycles. By the time he began his thumri, his capacity to win over his listeners was taken for granted, and he did not disappoint. Choosing the oft-heard Yaad piya ki aayi, an evergreen, all-time favourite, from the Patiala gharana stable, this young performer carried the number to new heights. “I felt the words first and then presented it through my singing,” he explains. As for the common failure of over-repetitive phrases, he stated, “There can be no repetition if the words are felt from within. Outwardly, it may be a common phrase from daily life, but when it is internalised by the thumri exponent, it derives the advantage of imaginative innovation.”

Though blessed with a packed concert billing, Deborshee continues to adhere to his riyaaz with unstinted regularity. “It is usually an all-night routine, so I go to bed by three in the morning. That is the time when disturbance is at the minimum and my mind can concentrate on my music completely,” recounts this rising star on the classical firmament.

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