Growing up in a rich musical environment of Vishnupur Gharana, Sougata Banerjee is a skilled Classical and Semi-Classical Indian trained performer. For the last 20 years, he has been under the guidance of Sangeet Martand Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasrajji.
Sri.Sougata Banerjee comes of a family that overflows with talented performers of Hindustani Sangeet. The doyen of Vishnupur Gharana Sangeetaacharya Satya Kinkar Bandyopadhyay being his grand father,Sougata’s father Prof.Sri Nihar Ranjan Bandyopadhyay is a well known Hindustani Musician.
In 1993 Sougata came in contact with his present guru Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasrajji found in Sougata a disciple already well-groomed in Hindustani music from his experience received in his family.
Sougata received an “All India Senior National Scholarship” in 1997. Sougata was fortunate to receive “Sri, Jadu Bhatta Award” from the Salt lake Music Circle in 2008.His professional life flowered with his becoming a graded artist of A.I.R & T.V.
Sougata is not only a performer but a skilled teacher of Hindustani music, he has taught for six years at Pt.Jasraj Music Foundation at Atlanta, Tampa, L.A, all in the U.S . At present he has with his wife Smt.Chandra Banerjee(also a disciple of Pt.Jasraji) established his own school at Mumbai, where he is staying. Sougata was lucky to perform before many established masters at different places in India & abroad of Hindustani music, first and foremost of whom is certainly his Guruji Pt.Jasrajji. In one occasion at the end of his concert with his illustrious Guruji at Tampa. Pandit Jasrajji in appreciation of Sougata’s musical skill proudly and affectionately bestowed on him the title of “Pandit”.
Sougata was also fortunate to perform in front of Pt.Ravi Shankarji in U.S. Pt. Ravi Sankarji sat with Sougata performing more than an hour & Panditji was visibly delighted to hear that Sougata is the grandson of Sangeetacharya Satya Kinkar Bandyopadhyay the doyen of Vishnupur Gharana.
At the end of the concert Pt. Ravi Shankarji had exclaimed in delight “Aaj ka Shaam(Evening) Ban Gaya"
The Vishnupur Gharana of Indian Classical Music
The Vishnupur Gharana is definitely one amongst the different Gharanas of schools, which have made notable contributions to the development of Indian Classical music. It can also claim the status of the only Sangeet Gharana of Bengal. For long two hundred years it has been training up pupils in the old tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara. The origin of the Vishnupur Gharana dates back to the eighteenth century when Vishnupur and the adjoining areas were under the yoke of the Hindu rule and Vishnupur was the prestigious capital of this independent Hindu Kingdom. At present, Vishnupur is situated in the Bankura district of West Bengal, India. Cultivation of classical music in Vishnupur started in full sway in the regime of Mallaraj Raghunath Singha the second. It was a period of crisis for the sangeet maestros of Indian a fearing an imminent cultural degeneration, they started moving to different parts of the country from Delhi and Northern India. Hoping to find an encouraging patron in the King, many Ustads settled in Vishnupur. Bahadur Khan, a successor of Tansen, was one of them. He was made the court-singer of the King's Darbar. This was how Vishnupur emerged as the seat of Indian music and culture in the presence of several reputed maestros and there was much in the cultural ambience of the place to draw common people towards classical music. Of the several disciples of Bahadur Khan, Gadadhar Chakraborty and Ramshankar Bhjattacharya (1761 - 1853) obtained great acclaim and established themselves in later years as pioneers of this school. Some say that Ramshankar, who was the real founder of this Gharana, was actually the disciple of Gadadhar Chakraborty. This leading exponent of Vishnupur Gharana taught many of whom the name of Jadu Bhatta, Kshetromohon Goswami, Anantalal Banerjee and Keshoblal Chakraborty needs to be mentioned. Ramshankar was a vocalist of exceptional talent, tireless effort and dedication turned him into an expert in the field of Dhrupad.
It is said that Ramshankar had come in contact with several Ustads and by the dint of his merit, he was able to glean the best from the styles of the different schools. As a result in this vocal recital was heard a new style. He was too accomplished an artist to copy his teachers merely and gave birth to a new tradition, unique in itself, bearing his own stamp.Of the noteworthy disciples of Ramshankar, Anantalal Bandopadhyay (1832 - 1896) gained reputation mainly as a teacher of classical music. The great Dhrupad singer Radhika Prasad Goswami (1863 - 1924) of the school was a student of Anantalal. Jananendra Prasad Goswami, (1902 - 1947), the most reputed and popular singer of Vishnupur, was Radhika Prasad's nephew. Radhika Prasad's able guidance resulted in the blossoming of latent talents not only of Jananendra Prasad Goswami, but also of Girija Shankar Chakraborty and others. The world of Indian music was greatly enriched by Anantalal and his successors. The present representatives of the Gharana owe their Gurukul to Anantalal. His three sons Ramprasanna (1871 - 1929), Gopeshwar (1880 - 1963), and Surendranath (1886 - 1972) succeeded in upholding and enriching their legacy of this glorious tradition. Each began to shine as a luminary in his own field of specialization. Ramprasanna was the court-singer of Narajol in Midnapore, and Gopeshwar adorned the court of the Maharaja of Burdwan. Gopeshwar Bandopadhyay was an eminent Dhrupadi of his days. He composed few texts incorporating some original bandishes of this Gharana.
Ramprasanna's contribution to Indian music was the creation of a new style of playing the sitar, esraj and surbahar, derived from Nilmadhab Chakraborty of Vishnupur who was the disciple of Sayad Mohummad. This style was adopted by Gopeshwar and his sons - Jogesh and Ashes, by Surendranath, Gaurhari Kabiraj and the sitarist Gokul Nag (1904 - 1983). Manilal Nag, the son and disciple of Gokul Nag acquired recognition as a sitarist of remarkable potential throughout India. His daughter Mita Nag, one of the youngest representative of this Gharana, is already a known name.
Ramesh Chandra Bandopadhyay (1905 - 1969), the son of Gopeshwar, was a man of remarkable potential, a reputed singer of both Dhrupad and Khayal. Until a few years ago, Gopeswar's nephew, Satyakinkar Bandopadhyay (1899 - 1980) ranked high among the Dhrupad and Khayal singers. A man of versatile genius, he excelled not only in singing such varied types of vocal classical as the Dhrupad, Khayal, and the Tappa, but also in playing the sitar and the surbahar. This tradition of vocal music is at present borne by two of Satyakinkar's sons - Pandit Amiya Ranjan Banerjee and Nihar Ranjan Banerjee. Amiya Ranjan is today the senior most vocalist of the Vishnupur Gharana, a name uttered with great respect in the world of Indian Classical music. A conspicuous presence in the arena of Khayal, he is imparting training with utmost vigour and dedication braving the infirmity of age, to his innumerable pupils. His unique rendition of the ragas bears roof of the change that Khayal has undrgone during the past sixty years. It is his unorthodox attitude to life, his ability ot modify tradition to suit the changing spirit of the time that has breathed new life and dynamism to this classical form. More details about Pandit Amiya Ranjan follows in the next section. Pandit Nihar Ranjan Banerjee is a reputed vocalist of high esteem. His son Sougata Banerjee also is steadily growing vocalist. Pandit Amiya Ranjan Banerjee's son and successor Santanu Banerjee is also emerging as a potent figure in the realm of classical music. He has made generous contributions in this field by imparting training to many budding talents.To omplete this brief account of Vishnupur Gharana, it needs to be mentioned that in its early years Vishnupur emerged as the house of Dhrupadis. With the passage of time its interests ramified into the arenas of Khayal and instruments. At present the main subjects of interest of the Vishnupur School are Khayal and Sitar. The various ragas, used by the Vishnupurites also acquired certain predominant features. In Dhrupad the artist excels in unfolding the beauty of the Ragas through the Alaap. It is simple, devoid of heavy, cumbersome ornamentation. Dhrupad is also fee from intricate play with the rhythm or the Laya. Layakari is however allowed in Dhamar. The Khayal of the Vishnupur School is noted for its sweet, lilting melody. It is adorned with the usual ornaments or the alankaras, which add variety to the tuneful presentation of the Ragas. Here also the singer prefers to pay lesser attention to layakari.
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8th Sept 2007 -- Kolkata
Pandit Jasraj ji was generous enough to add
Pandit before Sougata's name after listening to his performance in a
concert. "let the word Pandit be
added before your name henceforth. You've scaled rare heights"
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