'Mere showmanship will not help to sustain'

'Mere showmanship will not help to sustain'

Belonging to the Jaipur Seniya Gharana of sitar, Pandit Devabrata Chaudhuri (popularly known as Debu Chaudhuri)  is the creator of eight new ragas. He has received innumerous awards and citations in his lifetime including the coveted Padmabhushan Award and the “National Sangeet Natak Akademi Award”. His contribution to the Indian classical music has been immense.

With his first performance in 1948, he received the ‘Tansen Sangeet Samelan’ award in Kolkata and became the youngest prodigy who convinced his parents who never wanted him to become a sitarist.

Despite these achievemnts, the artiste feels that his musical journey has never been easy and recalls the struggles he had to face to survive.

He says, “It was not roses all the way. I had to struggle very hard to survive in the musical domain as I do not come from a family of musician nor my guru, Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan sahab was a ‘commercially successful’ sitar player. But when I went to him in the early 40s, he was one of the the topmost performer of India. I had the privilege of being his favourite student, which helped me to sustain my journey.”

Former head of the faculty of Music and Fine Arts in Delhi University, who has also authored six books including Sitar and its Techniques and Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan and Music of India, lements about the commercialism of classic music today.

“Classical music was very popular in the 50s. There were days when every week there was a nightlong music conference held in Kolkata. I remember those days as an experience of my life to listen to great maestros. Comparitively, the popularity has gone down because of the advent of commercialism in classical music,” he tells Metrolife.

Commenting on people’s inclination towards Western music, he notes, “It is nothing but a passing phase. The ‘guru-shishya parampara’ is alive and nothing can substitute it, be it technical advances, amplification and application.”

The 81-year-old, who recently performed at UMAK festival, believes that Indian classical music can never fade away because of its strong roots in the vedic culture. “Other forms may come and go, but classical music is based on a solid rock. The time will tell we have nothing to worry about.”

He suggests that by maintaining the purity and being honest and knowledgeable can help Indian classical music boom. “Nothing can sustain without knowledge and that is why the oral tradition is still popular in Indian culture. If we do not have the fundamental foundation we cannot propagate or promote anything. One has to be a learned musician, mere showmanship will not help to sustain”.

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