Monday, September 2, 2013

About Music

Ud Bade ghulam Ali Khan

Our childhood passed in music.

 There was no satellite channel, no internet. no Coca Cola, no Levi's. We had Doordarshan, from 6:30 to 9:30, in the evening. There was no second "Metro" channel as yet. We had magazines, little magazines, radio (yes FM was there too, from 7 pm onwards), and music.

 Our days used to start with music on the radio - the radio center's signature tune . After Subhasitam, music would start. The whole day used to be tuned according to music. Rabindrasangeet to Bhatiyali to Gazal to filmy on Vividh Bharati. 

Music was us. We were created by it. Most of us took formal lessons in music since early childhood. The regular seasoning of short khayal, bhajan, Tarana and Bangla Tappa took us ahead. Many of us who never went to the enlightened side of the city, before the market opened, never came to know what was happening there.

 Most Bengali teenagers of the late 80s and early 90s never went to the CSM. Amyt Datta was not so ubiquitously popular in those days.

 On the other side, how many of us actually went to 72 Jatin Das Road, where the famous Dagar brothers,Moinuddin and Aminuddin - the two Ustads - stayed? Most of us sang the whole life with a falsetto and always landing on a wrong note each time. We never had the real vocal training.

 Music was the pleasure ground for us. It was not to be seriously taken in life. It was not life's purpose. I wrote I wanted to be a singer and a full-fledged musician, in an essay on class assignment, when I was nine. I could never fulfill my promise. I was never sufficiently trained. 

Once, like a spark, I saw, for a split second, where a proper training can take one. Just after six month's training in Dagar Sangeet Ashram, in a typical Dhrupad voice training, I suddenly discovered any note, in any succession, in any rapidity, came so easily to voice. What a twelve years Khayal training could not do, a proper voice training under a Dhrupad guru did miraculously in six months!

 But, we are impatient! We were always so. Music was a part of life. But, fleetingly so. We never had time for anything. Music, as they used to make, has to wait for us till another life! 

Video Source:

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Au Pays de L'Or Noir
Photo Source: Hergé, 1950. Au Pays de L'Or Noir.
 Fac-similé de l’édition ed. Tournai: Casterman.
                          Scanned Pg.1

'70s' and '80s' Bengali generations grew up with Tintin. 

For those of us who went, by mistake, by choice, or by compulsion, to Bangla medium schools, discovered Tintin through Anandamela.

Those days Anandamela was the Magazine for the kids, despite Sandesh still running under the provocative guidance of Satyajit Ray, and Kishore Bharati.

Nurtured under an apt editorship of Nirendranath Chakraborty, Anandamela brought many major writers of that time to wield the pen for teenagers, and young adults.

But, the stickiest attraction was Tintin, translated directly from the French original. Much later, we would come to know the translator.

 When I started learning English, in early teens, again Tintin was the closest friend.

Those days, thanks to the erstwhile government of West Bengal, students would learn ABCD from the 6th class. And the teaching was through translation.

Tintin came to the rescue when all other methods failed. A strikingly cinematic (say, contemporary, maybe even futuristic) narration kept our attention to the pages. New words in the dialogues and descriptions never halted the flow. They just enhanced the enjoyment.

English used to get automatically better each time we finished a book.

Amazingly so, if we remember even the English Methuen (and later, Egmont and Casterman) books were only translations. They are probably the best examples of how interesting translations can be good guides to a language.

Tintin was the first guide to the language of cinema for many of us. I guess it would have been equally so for Satyajit Ray who mentioned the comics a number of times, in his writing.

Tintin taught us how to say Meanwhile (the idea of parallel editing), or how to close in from a location frame on to a close up portrait of a single character, or the duo.

The idea of shot division also sprang up from Tintin.

Again, when I started learning French, in the university days, Tintin was the guide. This time, in original, I came to appreciate how close the English translation was to the French bande dessinée.

Each Tintin character was reference to someone in our schooldays. A Professor Calculus, or Captain Haddock, Or the famous detective duo were among us, sometimes in a teacher, sometimes in someone else's parents.

We came to know about the journey to the moon, and about the nuclear reactor, not from the newspaper. Tintin guided us there too.

Of course there was the racial, neocolonial politics prevailing. But, our restive minds were probably not much tainted by that.

Tintin meant adventure for us.

After thirty years it is still the same.