A night of musical celebration

Turning 75 and going steady were words descriptive of the evening celebrating Indian classical musician, vocalist and author Prof Rita Ganguly’s 75th birthday at Indian Habitat Centre recently. Hosted by one of her closest friend and former Doordarshan presenter Dr Arshiya Sethi, who addressed her as matrika or a divine mother, the event saw a star-studded affair with guests pouring in till late.

Spanning a career of more than four decades, born Bengali and steeped in that culture, Ganguly became the first female Kathakali performer and then moved on to learn music at the feet of Begum Akhtar. The guest list was replete with names from various fields of her expertise and included students, colleagues and friends.

Some of the guests who attended the event included Padma Bhushan Saroja Vaidyanathan, Padma Shri Shovana Narayan, Shanta Sarbjeet Singh, Adil Sethi, singer Meeta Pandit, the director of National School of Drama Waman Kendre, actor Satyajeet Sharma, former director of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan, Tara Gandhi, sitar artiste Pt. Debu Chaudhuri and many more.

As the founder of Kaladharmi, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of performing arts and a ghazal academy, Begum Akhtar Academy of Ghazals (BAAG), the occasion saw two of the top-three winners of a ghazal contest, Sourabh Salunke from
Pune and Rageshri Das from Kolkata perform popular nazms or a genre of Urdu poetry.


Ganguly told Metrolife, “What is the use of learning to sing ghazals unless the new generation gets a chance to perform, to learn, to know. It is not only about ghazal, the idea is to keep the sanctity of the beautiful Urdu language intact.” She added, “After listening to around 7,000 youngsters, from various backgrounds and types of singers, we chose 500 people from across five centres including Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Delhi. Then out of 15 who came to Delhi for competing, three were selected.”

Thanking each and everyone on the occasion, she appreciated their presence and spoke reminiscently of the constant support of her teachers, friends, family and students.

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