Music evens out all odds, brings smiles

Talent hunt for disabled persons

By Subhankar Chowdhury and Farah Khatoon
  • Published 10.09.18
The IICP band performs at Rotary Sadan on Saturday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

Rotary Sadan: Hum Kisise Kam Nahin (we are no less than others) echoed the air at Rotary Sadan as a bunch of musicians, all with disability, took the stage to showcase their talent.

Students of the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (IICP), Manovikas Kendra and Mentaid put up power-packed performances.

"Many of them have difficulty holding instruments. One of my students Gitali Saha had her hands conjoined at birth. The hands were separated by surgery. A festival of this magnitude only helps give them courage," said Somnath Maitra, rhythm instructor at Manovikas Kendra. The band played a fusion piece titled Taal Taranga that included treble bongo, drum set, jumbo, dafli, tabla, dhamsa and khanjoni.

Tabla maestro and guest Bickram Ghosh was impressed. "I would love to do workshop with these talented musicians who are as brilliant as any of us," he said.

The concept of the programme, the first of its kind in eastern India, was born when some very talented and deserving musicians with disability were disqualified from a competition by the organisers despite being highly appreciated by the judges, said Jeeja Ghosh, head of advocacy and disability studies at IICP.

Seventeen musicians took part in the talent hunt at Rotary Sadan on Saturday.

Debarna Chatterjee, 14, has multiple difficulties, including ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and high myopia. The Class VI student of Barisha Vivekananda Girls' High School loves playing the dhak and ushered in the feel of Puja with her beats.

"She enjoyed the beats of tabla and dhak and would create music with a pen and pencil box from a very young age. I got her a toy drum and now she owns a small dhak. She has even performed at a sandhi pujo in a pandal near home," said mother Sushmita Chatterjee.

Sakhya Chakraborty, a child with autism, left the audience spellbound with his tabla recital accompanied by sarangi.

A chance meeting and interaction with Zakir Hussain filled his heart with the aspiration to be as good as his idol. "He was very moody and often threw tantrums. The tabla has helped calm him," mother Mallika said.

Sayomdeb Mukherjee of IICP, one of the organisers of the event, saw it as celebration of music and talent. "We set no conditions. So there was no age group either. A total of 100 participants registered in 10 days. We had initially decided to pick 12 but their talents compelled us to accommodate 17," he said.

Kabir Suman's Haal Chero na Bondhu, performed by rock band Prohor, summed up the spirit of the programme.