Music in my life

I have always felt quite uneasy about dogmas. Bertrand Russell’s writings addressed my intellect more than Marx’s writings did. For one thing, I have always been suspicious of the lack of humor and wit in certain social and political theories and thoughts. However, I also know that when the point is to change the world humor and wit can well become less important.

The social and political events of the late 1960s and the first two years of the ‘70s encouraged me to question the validity of the music that I had been engaged in. In 1966, I had become a regular broadcaster of Modern Bengali Songs and Rabindrasangeet at the All India Radio, Calcutta. Being a B-High graded singer I had to record about 15 minutes of Modern Bengali Songs and another 15 minutes of Rabindrasangeet every month. AIR approved lyricists supplied me with lyrics that I put to tune. I worked in earnest, but I did not like the form and the content of the lyrics. From 1962, I had been taking lessons in Khayal and in 1967 I heard for the first time Ustad Ameer Khan on a live concert. His style fired my imagination and my intellect. I fell under his spell and, following his style of exposition, his sargams and his taans, I found a great deal of intellectual joy in learning the art of Khayal and trying to sing it. My guru, Kalipada Das, came from a different gharana, but he was liberal enough to allow me to follow Ustad Ameer Khan’s style. During the turbulent years between 1966 and 1973, Ustad Ameer Khan’s Khayal and his method of exposition gave me the intellectual and emotional support that Bengali songs progressively failed to offer me. The texts of Modern Bengali songs and Rabindrasangeet seemed irrelevant to me with respect to the reality of our existence. Though I cut my first gramophone disc of Rabindrasangeet in 1972 and the second in the following year my soul remained dissatisfied. The more I thought of my life and the reality that surrounded me the more I felt that I could not possibly relate to the Bengali songs I had learned since my childhood. By 1973, I was convinced that I would have to write my own songs if I would really care to express myself in songs, which I did.


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