Thumping old style on a new canvas
Sarod player Biswajit Roy Chowdhury impresses with his grace and method.
Photo: Shobha Deepak Singh.
Grace and delicacy: Biswajit Roy Chowdhury in concert.
The HCL Concert Series that salutes excellence in human endeavour featured the well-known sarod player Biswajit Roy Chowdhury at the India Habitat Centre. Born into a music loving family, Biswajit was initiated in sitar and sarod by his father Ranjit Roy Chowdhury, who was a disciple of Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan before undergoing training under Indraneel Bhattacharya of Maihar gharana. Later on, he received guidance from Ustad Amjad Ali Khan as well.
In his search for the authentic and traditional exposition of ragas he also got professional guidance in raga Vidya from Pandit Mallikarjun Mansoor, studying under him the rare and complex repertoire of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana. He also had the privilege of training in bandish with Sumati Mutatkar and extensive interaction with Pandit Balasaheb Poochwale during his national fellowship to study tarana in instrumental music.
Biswajit started the concert with a melodious aalap jod in raga Yaman. The extraordinary grace and delicacy in the methodical handling of the aalapchari and the resounding depth of the tonal quality of his sarod during the vistaar in mandra-saptak - the lower octave, were remarkable. His fertile imagination and capacity to permute diversely at length without repetition gave the note-by-note delineation of the raga, a wide canvas. The use of bol-ang in jod reminded one of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan's style where Biswajit introduced bol through charming tanas which took him to the crescendo of the jhala sequence.
After the detailed alaap, jod and jhaala in raga Yaman instead of playing the gat in the same raga he chose to play two compositions in raga Hamir. He, therefore, took a few minutes time to establish the new raga. Normally, raga Hamir is associated with the clichéd sam of `ga ma dha' where dhaivat is used with a touch of nishad, but Biswajit treated this raga in the `purana andaaz' with the sam on rishabh. The slow composition was in Jhap tala of 10 beats cycle. He created a sense of wonder when the gat-todas dodged the tempo, creating an alternate rhythmic syncopation in the laya se hat ke chalne wala andaaz.
The fast composition in teen taal went through several curves before coming dramatically on the sam. The `aavirbhav-tirobhav' of ragas like Yaman, Nanda, Kamod, Kedar had a deft treatment in his Hamir. He would take the discerning listeners for a refreshing stroll in one of these ragas and come back to the base raga like home coming.
The concluding raga Khamaj served as a sweet dish was also redolent with the fragrance of olden times where apart from the gat in the tantrakari ang he also played the popular bandish ki thumari `na manungi'. Durjaya Bhawmik ably accompanied him on tabla.
Although impressive in matter, Bishwajit's concert, disclosed lack of riyaaz in the manner, where he was not up to his own mark. May be it was because of the new instrument that needed tuning every now and then incapable of sustaining the long soot, meend and gamak - the hallmark of Bishwajit's style which is a fine blend of tradition and creativity.
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