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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Sounds from the past

Gurgaon-based sarod player Arnab Chakrabarty,28,thinks his compositions for the Oscar winning documentary Born in Brothels was just the beginning for the renewal of the sarod sound in mainstream music.

Written by Suanshu Khurana |
February 4, 2009 12:19:48 am

Musician Arnab Chakrabarty enthralls with his 165-year-old sarod and traditional repertoire

Gurgaon-based sarod player Arnab Chakrabarty,28,thinks his compositions for the Oscar winning documentary Born in Brothels was just the beginning for the renewal of the sarod sound in mainstream music. In his case,however,it was a very special sarod,bequeathed to him by his guru Kalyan Mukharjea,a noted mathematician,and was manufactured in the middle of the 19th century.

Talking about his proud asset,the 165-year-old sarod that was manufactured in 1855 for the legendary Ustad Murad Ali Khan,one of the pioneers of sarod in India,Chakrabarty says,“It was one of the most humbling experiences when Kalyan da considered me worthy enough to own the instrument.” However Chakrabarty has been facing flak from self proclaimed purists who say this particular sarod is a museum piece. “I defer to my guru’s opinion that music and musical instruments should not become extinct,irrespective of when they were made. They produce a different,but equally beautiful sound with age,” says Chakrabarty. “Do you think a legendary Stradivarius violin will add musical value to a museum or to a concert?” he asks.

A graduate in International Relations and music from Hampshire College,Massachusetts,and a pedagogical representative (not hereditary) of the Shahjahanpur gharana,Chakrabarty does not believe in the lineage format followed by the classical musicians of today. “I don’t come from a family of musicians. I was just encouraged by one. The days of talent being judged by genealogy are passé,” he says,a tad scornfully. His father is a chemistry professor at IIT Mumbai and mother,a physicist,who were very encouraging when they found that he wanted to pursue music as a full time career.

The repertoire played by Chakrabarty is old style and that is what he thinks is his strength. “I am interpretative but not to the extent of taking academic risks,” explains Chakrabarty. He recalls his experience playing for Born in Brothels. “I was in New York and I randomly met John Mc Dowell who was composing the background score for the movie at the time. He asked me to play a few pieces for the film,” says Chakrabarty. The movie,shot in 2004,revolves around the lives of children of sex workers in the red light areas of Calcutta.

Chakrabarty’s new album,which he is producing with in collabboration with his friends,is an orthodox presentation of ragas. “I was quite dissatisfied by my previous album,produced under a prominent label,as it was promoted as music therapy and that just wasn’t what it was about. This time I want full control over my music,” he says. Second time lucky,maybe?

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