The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Classical streak in modern songs

Varshar megh naame may be the most uncharacteristic of the Himanshu Dutta compositions. This moderately paced classical derivative, penned by Ajoy Bhattacharya, can be easily traced back to a popular Mian-ki-Mallar bandish. One cannot but congratulate Abhijit Guha for selecting this number to inaugurate the annual Varsha Utsav (July 11-13), hosted by Samaroha at the Madhusudan Mancha. A song like this relates the classical with the contemporary. The 10th edition of the Utsav, on a whole, was successful in achieving that.

Although dedicated to the adhunik genre, a classical streak ran through the opening session. The romantic melancholy of Gnan Prakash Ghosh’s Jadio ekhano gaan articulated a pleasant counterpoint in Jatileshwar Mukhopadhyay’s unconventional take Sabai toke baran kare, which advocated the primacy of monsoon of the mind as opposed to the natural one. Taking a break from the run-of-the-mill compositions, Shampa Kundu regaled in both the numbers. Towards the end Srikanta Acharya was a picture of confidence in rendering his monsoon hits.

Negotiating with the past came to haunt Banashri Sengupta and Sriradha Bandyopadhyay. The former sounded disgruntled with the present and her performance simply withered away. Bandyopadhyay, however, was enjoying the breathtaking imagery of Amitava Naha’s Shudhu megh, set to tune in an ecstatic manner by Sukumar Mitra. Bandyopadhyay’s is the most sensual voice since Arati Mukhopadhyay. The quality of her timbre is impeccable. All this make her a successor to the legacy of the past divas. Without risking her individuality, she can add layers to an established classic. However, it was unbecoming of her to react caustically to a request for delivering a Geeta Dutt hit.

Varsha Mangal was presented in the second session and it was the most ambitious production of Tagore’s magnum opus in recent times. The choreography saw a mosaic of dance forms with some of the best creative talents participating. The youthful duo of Sanjukta Bandyopadhyay and Koushik Chakraborty presented a synchronisation of Bharatnatyam and Kathakali styles as they danced to Hriday amaar nachere ajike. It was the triumph of individual perceptions that Rabindranritya mostly denies. As the vivacious girls in saffron representing the Indian Cutural Troupe conveyed the romanticism of Badal baul bajay, an eminently expressive Vandana Alase Hazra explored the devotional contour of Timir abagunthane. Subrata Sengupta and Ishita Das Adhikari were the pick of the backstage performers. The production suffered on account of inconsistency of standard among the performers.

The concluding session dedicated to Rabindrasangeet was underlined by mature recitals by Purba Dam, Rajeshwar Bhattacharya, Achin Mukhopadhyay, Basabi Dutta Roy and Sinjini Acharya Mazumdar. Jhinuk Gupta confused tribute with mimicry. She was so overwhelmed by the aura of Pankaj Kumar Mullick that she sacrificed her own distinguished style in favour of Mullick’s outdated gayaki. How the mainstream adhunik singers try to adapt to the conventions of Rab-indrasangeet singing was keenly studied. Manomay Bhatta-charya made a decent impressi-on. But Rupankar Bagchi needs lessons in performing decorum before taking the stage in a Rabindrasangeet stage next time.

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