Dhrupad gets new life

Education guide

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 5.02.08

Dhrupad is said to be a dying form of Hindustani classical music. Yet a tiny primary school, Shamil Chhotoder Pathshala in Chittaranjan Colony near Jadavpur has been holding workshops on classical music since 2003. They are conducted by dhrupad vocalist Uday Bhawalkar.

What Alokananda Guha started as a nursery in 1996, has now graduated to Class II. Guha, who was trained in Rabindrasangeet, has a holistic approach towards education. She always wanted the accent to be on learning through music. Thus even the school bell has strains of classical music. At Aminuddin Dagar’s death anniversary, Guha had met the dhrupad vocalist’s shishya, Aloka Nandi, and had requested her to conduct a two to three-day workshop. Guha subsequently met Bhawalkar and felt he would be the best person to conduct the workshop.

Since then the workshops have been a success. So much so, that even the ex-students of Shamil Pathshala attend Bhawalkar’s workshops. And, so do some enthusiastic parents. “This is like a festival for us,” says Guha.When Bhawalkar was in town earlier this month, he spent a good deal of time with the children.


Dhrupad vocalist Uday Bhawalkar with students of Shamil Chhotoder Pathshala
hildren get very involved with me. They want to eat and sleep with me. A teacher should not know he is teaching, and the children should not feel they are learning,” says the delighted vocalist, whose gurus were Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar (vocalist) and Ustad Mohiuddin Dagar, the rudra veena player.

Dipak Mukherjee, who accompanies Bhawalkar on the pakhwaj, says the response has been great. The first time the workshop was held, the children readily learnt the song. Some participants were only three years old. “Not only music, we share everything,” says the Pune-based musician. This time, he got a tanpura made in Pune and gifted it to Shamil.

Guha says the school does not have any ex-students, and children like Anasuya Das (12) who is learning Rabindrsangeet now, and Tunak Banerjee (11) who is taking dance lessons, still attend the workshop.

Children, who live far away don’t want to miss the workshop either, even if they have to start at five in the morning to attend it. Some even call up Bhawalkar to seek his blessings before writing an exam. One little boy has started watching Hindi TV programmes only to pick up the language in which Bhawalkar teaches.

Such is the rare bonding between the teacher and the taught. And dhrupad is partly responsible for this.

Soumitra Das


Education guide

Here’s good news for students. The Telegraph Education Directory, a guide on the educational institutions in Bengal, has been launched in Calcutta. It will be available on the stands from January 31. The directory, priced at Rs 75, contains information on institutions that will come in handy for school and college passouts.

The categories include aviation, medical institutes, hotel management, fashion design, information technology, colleges, universities, career counselling institutes, BPO training, animation and management institutes. It provides details, including the number of students, placement record, course fees, affiliation and areas of specialisation.

The directory also provides encouragement to those opting for unconventional careers, with advice from celebrities like Sidhu from Cactus. The latter gave up a career in medicine to pursue his love for music. “I strongly believe that students should always listen to their heart because that is one of the most satisfying things one can do in life,” he said. “But it is also important to become economically independent before embarking on potential risk routes,” he added.

Malini Banerjee