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Music on the screen

GAUTAM CHATTERJEE

A recent movie is true to the genius of sarod maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta.

Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

Priceless knowledge Buddadev Dasgupta.

How many good films or documentaries are made on Indian classical musicians? The answer would be only a few. A movie on Mallikarjun Mansur by the Films Division, on Kumar Gandharva by Jabbar Patel and one on Siddheshwari Devi by Mani Kaul, would be a few examples. And of course, the one on Kelucharan Mohapatra by Kumar Shahani. Other attempts are mere concert recordings or little else, like the one on Bismillah Khan. Now for the first time, a complete, interactive, classically inclined film has been made on the veteran instrumentalist Buddhadev Dasgupta. Sumanta Mukherjee, a disciple of the sarod maestro, has produced this film, titled simply “Buddadev Dasgupta’s Sarod”.

Informative

The film throws light on the sarod, on Ustad Allauddin Khan, Radhika Mohan Maitra and the lineage of masters like Murad Ali Khan. It also provides perspectives on the Shahajanpur gharana and classical bandishes.

Buddhadeva Dasgupta, at 75, is not merely a sarod player but an encyclopaedia of rare compositions and an artiste who keeps music alive through constant interaction with the young. The film starts with how his guru, Radhika Mohan Maitra, inspired him to turn to music from mechanical engineering. The viewer sees how he built up his collection of bandishes through much hardship. A major portion of his work has been done by dint of his association with the ITC Sangeet Research Academy and the Rajya Sangeet Academy. In the film, two of his contemporaries, Dipali Nag and Subroto Roy Chowdhury, reveal that whatever he has written in his autobiography is distinctly valuable for performers. There are accounts of memorable moments, like the day in 1957 when he became the first Indian to play on BBC Radio. Buddhadev has done much of the narration for the film himself and focuses on two important references. One is the historical paradigm of the sarod and the other is the demand for more research on contemporary Indian classical music. We come to know of his lessons from Guru Radhika Mohan Moitra, and the audience understands the difference between experience and experiment. The lucid way of handling a subject like the sarod is the power of the film, which deals simultaneously with the academic nuances of classicality as well as aesthetic rapture.

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