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Pandit Shankar Ghosh passes away at 80
Priyanka Dasgupta | Jan 23, 2016, 12.14 AM IST

Kolkata: Pt Shankar Ghosh left for his eternal concert on Friday, aged 80 . Born in Kolkata on October 10, 1935, the legendary tabla player was comatose for 40 days after an angioplasty. He is survived by his wife Sanjukta Ghosh and son Pt Bickram Ghosh.

Bickram Ghosh said, "Baba was the one man from Bengal who single-handedly took tabla to the heights that it has reached today. Tabla in Bengal was defined by him." Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia said, "I heard about Mrinalini Sarabhai's death today morning. And now, it is this news. I have played at so many concerts with him. It is a big loss."

Last month, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan had visited him in hospital and wished him speedy recovery. Ustad Zakir Hussain had played his composition when he had come down to perform in the city this month. The iconic table player has been a guru to not just his son but also Pt Tanmoy Bose and Pt Arup Chatterjee. Nephew Pt Swapan Chaudhuri is devastated. "I lost my mother long back. When my father died last year, I felt reassured since my uncle was still alive. Jantam je boromama toh ache. He was always jovial and it pained me to see him in such a state in hospital," he said.

Childhood memories with his uncle flooded his mind as Chaudhuri recalled his days with 'boromama'. "He was my uncle, my friend and my mentor too," he said. Memories of his uncle's landmark concerts in Kolkata continue to inspire the table player who is based in California. Those days, Ghosh would accompany all the legendary musicians like Pt Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. "In the early '60s, I had the good fortune of listening to his concerts in Kolkata, Allahabad, Maihar and Delhi. He was a regular at the Tansen Festival, the Sadarang Festival and the All India Music Conference. I still recall his recitals with Ustad Vilayat Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at two separate concerts at Mahajati Sadan. What concerts they were!"

His stint at the Ali Akbar College of Music in California was equally memorable. "At first, he had gone there in the early 60s. Then he came back to Kolkata. Later, between 1968 and 1972, he went back to California. When I started teaching in California, he had already returned to India. But there are such great stories of his contribution to music during his stay there," said Chaudhuri, who described his uncle an 'all-rounder with great skills of an excellent singer, talented composer and an author of short stories and novels". "Not too many know that in sarod, he was a 'ganda bandh shagird' of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. I have heard him play the sarod and he was excellent," Chaudhuri recalled.

Tabla player Pt Anindya Chatterjee's uncle was Ghosh's disciple. That's how Chatterjee had got introduced to the icon. "Every year, he used to come to our village in Dutta Pukur for a picnic. I would to sit on his lap and listen to him discuss music. Though I wasn't his direct disciple, I have learnt so much from him," Chatterjee said. Learning from Ghosh became a regular exercise when Chatterjee would go to listen to his concerts. "I would hear him accompany Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan. When it would get late at night, he would ask me to stay over at his Kabir Road residence. In the morning, he would go to the market and buy fish for us. So my lessons from him were accompanied with good food too!" he fondly recalled.

Most musicians agree that it is extremely rare to simultaneously become a great performer and a teacher. "Boromama excelled in both fields. That's a rarity. His stage presence has always been an inspiration. While on stage, he didn't fear anyone. That was so inspiring. I remember the first orchestra that he had formed. It was called Music of the Drums. That too was held at Mahajati Sadan. My mother was then alive. Bickram was still a kid then. Amar kaaj chhilo green room-e tabla miliye dewa," said an emotional Chaudhuri.

Performance-wise, Chatterjee had noticed how Ghosh's style of playing changed over the decades. "In the 70s, I was awestruck by his clarity and speed. I liked the way he introduced new techniques during accompaniment. Later on, I liked the richness of bol-bani and compositions. Even today, I often play some of his compositions on stage. Four months back when he came for my house-warming party, he told me that he feels happy when I say that I am playing his composition on stage!" Chatterjee said.

But what amazes both Chatterjee and Chaudhuri was Ghosh's success as a guru. "He was the best guru I have seen in the music world after Pt Gyan Prakash Ghosh. From Bickram to Arup Chatterjee, from Parimal Chakraborty to Tanmoy Bose - all were his disciples. India, sadly, never recognised his true worth," Chatterjee said. Chaudhuri added, "All these years, he never got his due. I am happy that Mamata Banerjee's government had bestowed the Banga Bibhushan on him. But I believe, he deserved a Padhma Bibhushan."


Drshti Shrishti Vada

Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #2 
I actually didn't know him and watched his performances. But, it is a great loss indeed !! i am inspired by this article. R.I.P Pt. Ghosh
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