What happened to the classical gharana of Bengali modern songs?
In the 50s and 60s, a number of Bengali classical singers had adorned the firmament of Bengali modern songs. The list included Begum Akhtar, Krishna Ganguly, Ila Bose, Chinmoy Lahiri, A.T. Kanon, etc. The legacy that was created by Vishwadeb Chatterji, Ganendra Prosad Goswami, Tarapodo Chakravarty was carried forward by the above-mentioned singers.
The legendary singers educated the music-lovers about thumris, tappas, kajris, etc. Some of the notable songs included “koeliya gan thama ebar” composed by Gyanprakash Ghosh, “jhanana jhanana baje” composed by Salil Choudhury, “koto je shoyechi betha” composed by Chinmoy Lahiri to mention a few. Manobendra Mukherjee dominated the world of Bengali modern songs, and songs either sung by him or composed by him reached level of excellence in the 50s and 60s.
Some of his memorable songs included “rimjhim baje monjiro kar”, “bare bare ke jeno dake”, “borosha klanto o duti nayan”, “jodi amake dekho tumi udashi”, “seto naam dhore konodin dakeni amay”, “aha na royna”, “hajar jonom dhore”, “mone hoy koto striti”, to mention a few. The songs where he composed music for other singers became equally famous. Some of them included “kemone janabo bolo e pranero bedona” sung by Shefali Chakravarty, “mon bolche kon sondhaye” sung by Alpona Banerjee, “gane gane ami je khuji tomay” sung by Supriti Ghosh, to mention a few.
Dhanonjoy Bhattacharya sang many classical numbers during that age which included “ruma jhuma jhum” composed by Rotu Mukherjee, “kobir kheale premomoy tumi” composed by himself, “maatite jonmo nilam” composed by Probir Mojumdar, “ei jhir jhir jhir batashe” composed by Sudhin Dasgupta, to mention a few. Satinath Mukherjee’s songs “baluka belae kurai jhinuk”, “ajo to elo na she”, “bonopatho majhe”, “pashaner buke” etc., received both admiration and respect from the music-lovers.
Akhil Bandhu Ghosh sang a number of memorable songs like “bashoriya bashi bajayona”, “keno prohoro na jete”, “aaji chandini raati go”, “o dayal bichar koro”, to mention a few. Manna Dey devoted most of his time in singing songs for films, yet many of his basic discs had moved the music-lovers which included “koto dure aar”, “ami aaj akasher moto ekela”, “sundari go”, “lalita, oke aar chole jete bolna”, “shabai to sukhi hote chaye”, “kophota choker jol”, etc., which bewildered the audience from the 50s to the 80s.
Other than successful basic discs of Sandhya Mukherjee and Geeta Dutt, a number of other singers had excellent basic discs. The legendary songs included “koishore ami jekhane bendhechi ghar” sung by Bani Ghoshal, “bolechile tumi gaan shonabe” sung by Alpona Mukherjee, to mention a few.
Someway or the other, the classical gharana faded away in the 70s. One of the reasons must be excessive domination of Hemant Kumar in Bengali film music, where other than Shaymal Mitra and Manna Dey, the rest of the singers did not get that scope. The classical singers did not any motivation and the composers who had the capability of creating landmark songs also died and a new generation was never created.
These days Ajoy Chakravarthy, Rashid Khan, Girija Devi motivates young singers towards classical singing, but the response is not that encouraging. The legendary songs should be restored for the new generation.