Kolkata is soon to witness a Concert of Sorts Mehfil é Majestic Music presents “Sangeet Sutra” -A Music Troika and while looking into the details of this exciting concert, Team Sholoana Bangaliana got to speak with Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya who has been given titles like ‘God of Guitar’ and ” The Jesus Christ of Slide Guitar” by eminent National and International Music Journals for his soul stirring music. He is also the creator of Hindustani slide guitars and is the inventor of the Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi… Let us see what Pt. Bhattacharya has to say about his musical journey and the upcoming concert…. Excerpts:
Sholoana Bangaliana: You have given your life and soul to music so let us start with your formative years. How did music become a part of your life, who were your Gurus in the formative years and what kind of involvement did your family have in shaping you as a musician?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: My training began right at home with my mother, grandfather and father being my first gurus. My mother Manjushree Bhattacharya, Grandpa Late Prabodh Chandra Banerjee and father Sunil Kr Bhattacharya are all singers, so music was very much at home and this training started at the age of 3 and went on till 16.
Other most revered gurus that I trained under are:
Late Acharya Gokul Chandra Nag Sitar (Age16-20)
Pt Maharaj Banerjee harmonium (Age 20-22)
Pt Ajoy Chakraborty vocal (Age 21- 48)
Pt Brij Bhushan Kabra Indian classical guitar (Age 21- 30)
Late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (Age Sarod 35-44)
The Slide guitar has been with me since I was 3 and is my best companion till today and my learning has still not stopped.
Sholoana Bangaliana: What led you to choose the guitar as your primary medium of musical expression over other musical instruments?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: It laid in our hall room before I was born waiting for me to take it on lap and Since 1966 till date that is the thing on my lap. The Slide guitar chose me… I redefined it to be identified as a solo Indian classical music instrument and gave birth to the genre called Hindustani slide guitar.
My albums made in early 80s were named by me as Hindustani slide guitar from which this name took on. I then recreated individual instruments like Debangui, Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi and my inspiration was the fact that these sounds will remain in the soundscape of Indian music and its nuances.
Sholoana Bangaliana: You have christened INDIAN lap steel guitar to “Hindustani slide guitar” and have even created and patented three guitars namely Chaturangui, Gandharvi and Anandi. What led you to this experimentation and innovation? Were you inspired by Pandit. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who holds the credit of creating and mastering the Mohan Veena?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: I made Hindustani Slide guitar a decade before Mohan Veena was named. No human is my inspiration as far as instruments are concerned. My creative inspiration is Rabindranath Tagore, Life inspiration by Baba Allauddin Khan and Nelson Mandela and Religious inspiration is Swami Vivekananda.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Did this urge to re-christen and re-create a musical instrument come from the desire to be immortalized in the pages of history of music or did it just come about naturally for the love of music and the guitar?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: My musical instinct knew that the loving sound of this six string thing on my lap will go worldwide one day… My quest and my search for the celebration of truth ruled my path, all my innovative work that I have done in the period between 1978 till 2014 is unparalleled and this very fact had been confirmed by none other than late Pandit Ravishankar.
Sholoana Bangaliana: You were nominated for the 2009 Grammy Awards. Why do you think you missed the award and what steps have you taken to ensure that the next time you are we nominated we can applaud your victory?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: Have you heard that album I did- can you find another album of such in last hundred years of history of Indian and global music- the making of such thing in itself is an award! It doesn’t need to wait for recognition.
Sholoana Bangaliana: You are often seen performing at international concerts. What difference of experience would you like to outline when playing in India and abroad?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: Playing for your home crowd is always a pleasure and rewarding- but that doesn’t mean that playing abroad is not pleasurable. Family and college both are parts.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Coming to concerts, you shall be playing for the people of Kolkata on February 1, 2014 at “Sangeet Sutra”-A Music Troika. Please tell us more about this concert and also what sets it apart from the many musical concerts that the city often gets to enjoy?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: Shrimati Sutapa Bhattacharya and Shri Subhasis Bhattacharjee who are my siblings will be playing together with me in this concert. The City hasn’t heard us together ever nor has it ever heard things I’m going to play with Pandit Anindo ji..Also, the dark horse of the evening could be either of us siblings.
Sholoana Bangaliana: You also have a Music School. Please tell us more about the school, its admission procedures and its brief curriculum..
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: I teach only the greatest talents on earth and that too after a true filter and audition. I love sharing things with people who are worthy- very fussy about it. School has produced some of the greatest musicians or helped them to grow in a positive directions.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Apart from Music what else do you enjoy doing?
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: Watching movies, painting cooking or going to lonely islands with my little guitar and living by myself with the phone, internet, managers, all left behind.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Have you composed music for films? If not yet, do you plan to do so in future..
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya…. May be I will – my music is film and a story in itself
Sholoana Bangaliana: Your message for young aspiring musicians of today…..
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya: Don’t just touch the feet of your Guru- live in your Guru’s heart. Work hard to keep his or her head high.
Serve your Guru as an extension of him, don’t do slavery.
Believe in yourself and believe in what you can do.
8-12 hrs of practice and sacrificing worldly pleasure makes a professional killer or player or a musician so practice very hard.