Sunday, 15 October 2017

Event Report - Mahishasuramardini 2017

EVENT REPORT
MAHISHASURAMARDINI 2017

DATE: September 16, 2017 (Saturday) | TIME: 6:15 p.m.
VENUE: Children’s Little Theatre Auditorium (Dhakuria, Kolkata)

Programme Details
 The presentation of Mahishasuramardini is a preordained feature in the Events Calendar of Pankaj Mullick Music and Art Foundation.
So, as with every year since its inception, the Foundation this year too presented yet another adaptation of the legendary oratorio – which incidentally is broadcast annually on the day of Mahalaya preceding the Sharodiya Durga Pujas.

Most Bengalis know that the oratorio started off as a radio-play and then gradually became an integral part of the Durga Puja celebrations among Bengalis all across the globe. Written by Banikumar, narrated by Birendra Krishna Bhadra and set to tune by Pankaj Kumar Mullick, this oratorio is now seen and heard on TV and is available in the form of CDs as well as on the internet. Several eminent singers have rendered the immortal songs which form the backbone of the oratorio.

In fact, the broadcast of this programme on Mahalaya this year marked its 86th anniversary.

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However, the musical-play developed by the Foundation is in essence a presentation in the form of an audio-play, combining elements of Live Performances including Singing, Chandipaath and Narration that takes a look at the mythology of Devi Durga and links it to modern-life in the form of an ode to “shakti”. Moreover, the songs and narrations include those which were broadcast live during the period between 1931 and 1961.

The special feature of this year’s presentation was the inclusion of an audio-visual presentation consisting of rare photographs and interviews that were woven in to the narrative of the overall presentation.

Here is an inclusive list of the core-performers who were involved in the programme:

Singers: 
Jhinuk Gupta (granddaughter-in-law of Pankaj Mullick) and chorus
Narration: 
Bhaswar Chattterjee
Adaptation, Chandipaath, Narration & Direction: 
Rajib Gupta (grandson of Pankaj Mullick)

The music for the entire presentation obviously consisted of compositions by Pankaj Kumar Mullick.

The Performers in Action
OBJECTIVES OF THE EVENT:

[1] Use art as a means of communication to –
·         Create awareness about the emancipation of women
·         Focus on Gender Equality
 [2] Preserve, promote and propagate the rich cultural heritage of India

The Audience in Attendance

www.pankajmullickfoundation.org




Saturday, 28 July 2012

A versatile genius


Rare are those who become legends and rarer still are those who do so during their lifetimes. Singer, actor, playwright and music composer par excellence – Pankaj Kumar Mullick was one such who through sheer dint of genius and talent not only became a Living Legend but also a revered cultural icon of the nation during his lifetime.

His is a story of humble beginnings, monumental struggles and glorious achievements – achievements that have not only been written in golden words on the pages of the cultural history of India but have been inscribed on the very visage of time, making them truly eternal and everlasting.

He was the one who fought against massive odds and liberated Rabindrasangeet (songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore) from the clutches of the elitists to make them popular among the masses. In the process he earned the sobriquet of The First Man of Rabindrasangeet, an epithet he justified fully through the missionary zeal with which he sang and spread the magic of Tagore’s compositions across the country and the world.

A couple of quotations by two world-renowned people bring into perspective Pankaj Kumar Mullick’s communion with Rabindrasangeet:

Rabindranath Tagore


Rabindranath Tagore to Pankaj Kumar Mullick (Jorasanko Thakurbari, 1937):
All those lyrics of mine that I will not get the opportunity to set tune to during my lifetime, I leave to you to embellish them with your music.





Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray in a eulogy on 22.02.1978: Pankaj Mullick earned legendary fame and popularity as a singer and teacher of Rabindrasangeet. He devoted his whole life to this cause using the media of the film, the radio and the gramophone – he succeeded in endearing himself to music loving Indians all over the country.




His contributions in the field of Indian cinema were manifold too. He was directly involved in the advent of play-back singing in Indian films, he pioneered the use of Western musical elements in Indian film songs and over a period of nearly thirty-seven years he sang and composed music for a gamut of films in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tamil. Many of these songs after having defied the ravages of time continue to enthrall listeners cutting across age-groups and generations. Several eminent artistes, luminaries in their own right, including the likes of K. L. Saigal, S. D. Burman, Kanan Devi, Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle sang his compositions in films which at times scored heavily at the box office only by virtue of the magic of his musical creations. Apart from singing and composing music for films, he also featured as an actor in quite a few movies, often in leading roles. Pankaj Mullick’s involvement with cinema made him a household name not just across the length and breadth of the country but in every nook and cranny of the world where Indian films were watched.  

Pankaj Mullick receiving the Dada
Saheb Phalke Award from then
President of India
Shri  V. V. Giri

The indelible footprints he left on the bedrock of Indian cinema traced their way back into his life in the form of the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award which symbolized the culmination of his career in films in a manner that has few parallels.




Pankaj Mullick on AIR
Another medium that bore witness to the magnitude of his talents was the radio. In fact it was through radio that Pankaj Kumar Mullick first came under the public spotlight. From 1927 to 1975, over a span of about forty-eight years, Pankaj Kumar Mullick served Indian Radio in general and Kolkata Radio in particular with incomparable dedication and commitment. During his lengthy tenure at AIR (All India Radio) he got involved with two landmark programmes that have had an everlasting impact on the musical, social and cultural framework of India.

Pankaj Mullick on
Sangeet Shikshar Ashar

The first of these was Sangeet Shikshar Ashar, a weekly music-class on radio, broadcast every Sunday morning. Pankaj Mullick conducted these classes in an inimitable style that went on to capture the imagination of generations of music lovers. Starting in 1929 Pankaj Mullick conducted the programme for decades till 1975 – a feat probably without any comparison in the annals of radio broadcasting. The programme was so revolutionary that it broke the shackles encumbering female singers who till then were looked down upon when they expressed their desire to learn singing. This apart, the programme made many more significant contributions to the world of culture that are too numerous to list here. 

Pankaj Mullick with
the Mahishasuramardini team

The other one was of course Mahishasuramardini – the legendary radio programme broadcast annually every Mahalaya morning preceding the autumnal Durga Pujas. This programme, an oratorio comprising narrations and songs describing the victory of Devi Durga over the demon king Mahishasura, was started in 1931. Since then the programme was broadcast live every year till about 1965 after which a recorded compilation of the songs and narrations, broadcast live earlier, was played out annually. Interestingly enough, this phenomenon continues till date. Over time, the programme itself has developed a persona of its own and has transcended impermanence to evolve into a becoming a tradition that has become intertwined with the very culture of Durga Puja among Bengalis the world over. Through it, the creators of the programme – Banikumar, Pankaj Kumar Mullick and Birendra Krishna Bhadra have achieved virtual immortality along with the other renowned artistes who have performed in it. It is already into its 81st year and shows no signs whatsoever of abating or stopping.

Besides these awe-inspiring achievements Pankaj Mullick had an array of other noteworthy accomplishments to his credit as well.

A small selection from these is listed below in gist:

·         He was appointed as the Honorary Advisor to the Folk Entertainment Section of the Government of West Bengal by the then Chief Minister of West Bengal Dr. B. C. Roy.
·         He was invited to sing the inaugural song during the launch of television in the country.
·         At the behest of Sri Sarat Bose, Netaji’s elder brother, he sang ‘Kadam Kadam Barhaye Ja’, set to his version of the tune, with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru being present during the recording. Other members of Netaji’s family too lent their voices to this record.
·         Following India’s independence, on Prime Minister Nehru’s request, he sang and recorded the Indian National Anthem – ‘Jana Gana Mana’ in a style that was deemed to set the parameters to be followed during the singing of the anthem by all Indians. The recording was also played nation-wide at almost every public place to familiarise every Indian citizen with the anthem of their newly formed independent country.

Legends like Pankaj Kumar Mullick are never forgotten. Memories of him may tend to fade but his tales invariably get told over generations and from each telling arises the spirit of the artiste, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, to once again ascend the seat of perpetuity and stake his claim to immortality once and for all.

A few honours that were posthumously bestowed on him are listed below:

·    The Government of West Bengal renamed Ritchie Road as Pankaj Mullick Sarani in his honour.
·   The Department of Information and Culture of the Government of West Bengal celebrated his birth centenary in 2005 with great pomp and splendour.
·  The Government of India, paid tribute to his memory by issuing a commemorative postage stamp in 2006.
·     The Kolkata Municipal Corporation declared his residence at Sebak Baidya Street a Heritage Site in 2007.
·    The Kolkata Municipal Corporation supported the erection of a statue in his honour at Maddox Square Park on Pankaj Mullick Sarani in 2010.


Signboard depicting road named after Pankaj Mullick
  






Commemorative Postage Stamp in honour of Pankaj Mullick










Statue of Pankaj Mullick in Maddox Square Park





Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tributes

O P Nayyar


O P Nayyar - a legend of Indian film-music was a great admirer of Pankaj Kumar Mullick and credited him for influencing him to become a music director. In the accompanying sound-clip he answers a question posed to him by Amin Sayani through which the aforementioned fact becomes clear.
O P Nayyar interview by Amin Sayani








Lata Mangeshkar






Lata Mangeshkar, the living legend of Indian film-music, had deep respect for Pankaj Kumar Mullick and this becomes evident in her remembrances as recorded in the following sound-clip.
Lata Mangeshkar remembers Pankaj Mullick












Naushad




Naushad, the versatile genius of Hindi film-music, speaks of the incomparable contributions made by Pankaj Mullick to this genre. Hear it in the following sound clip.
Naushad Ali on Pankaj Mullick










Anil Biswas




Anil Biswas, another great composer, talks about Pankaj Mullick's immense contribution to the genres of both Hindi and Bengali film-music. The following sound-clip is a recording of his testament. 
Anil Biswas pays tribute to Pankaj Mullick

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pankaj Kumar Mullick and Rabindrasangeet


All those lyrics of mine that I will not get the opportunity to set tune to during my lifetime, I leave to you to embellish them with your music – Rabindranath Tagore to Pankaj Kumar Mullick (Jorasanko Thakurbari, 1937).
Rabindranath Tagore

The incident that prompted this emotional reaction in Tagore is now a part of the legend of Bengali culture:
It was during the making of the movie Mukti, in 1937 that Pankaj Kumar Mullick, the film’s music director had gone to meet Tagore to seek his permission to use the song Diner Sheshey Ghumer Deshey in the film. The lyrics for this song were by Tagore but its music was not – it was in fact composed by Mullick many years prior to the movie. He had been unofficially singing the song at various gatherings but never in public. However when it came to using it in a movie, Tagore’s permission was an absolute necessity because Tagore’s songs (popularly known as Rabindrasangeets) and his poems - then, as it is now - were sacrosanct and nobody apart from Tagore had any right whatsoever to tinker with them let alone set tune to them. Given this scenario, Mullick set up an appointment with Tagore and with great trepidation rendered the song in Tagore’s presence. Mullick had no idea how Tagore would react to such a situation and he feared the worst – that Tagore would get upset with him and forbid him to sing the song ever again let alone use it in the movie. But what unfolded was absolutely contrary to his fears. Tagore was so overwhelmed on hearing the song that he embraced Mullick and uttered the words that gave Mullick the rare distinction of being the only composer allowed by Tagore to set tunes to his lyrics. In this manner Mullick was adorned with the unofficial title of being the 'First Man of Rabindrasangeet' – an epithet he aptly justified by making it his life’s mission to popularize the songs of Tagore among the masses. He not only pioneered the use of the medium of films but also that of radio apart from stage performances to free Rabindrasangeet from the shackles of elitism and let it loose among the music loving masses of Bengal. He was also the first person to sing Rabindrasangeets in Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil in an attempt to spread the magic of Tagore’s compositions among the non-Bengali speaking audience as well. Given the scale of popularity that Rabindrasangeets have reached today it can be said without any doubt that Tagore and Pankaj Mullick were kindred spirits – one meant for the other in this vast universe of eternal music.
video

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Short Biography


Born – 10th May, 1905
Pankaj Mullick singing live on radio
Died – 19th February, 1978

Training – 

  • Sri Durgadas Bandopadhyay for classical & light classical music
  • Sri Dinendranath Tagore (Rabindranath Tagore’s grand nephew) for Rabindrasangeet




CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

RADIO –

·     He joined All India Radio (AIR), Kolkata [initially known as the Indian Broadcasting Corporation] in 1927, within a month of its inception.
·         He was an integral part of  AIR for nearly 50 years
·         At AIR he set music to the immortal ‘Mahishasuramardini’, a programme that has become a part of Bengali culture and synonymous with Durga Puja. It is heard every ‘Mahalaya’ morning even till today. It has had an uninterrupted run since its beginning in 1931.
·         He conceptualized and started the immensely popular live-music class titled – ‘Sangeet Shikshar Ashar’ which he did for a record 47 years on the trot.
·         He was part of innumerable Feature Programmes as music director & artiste during his lengthy tenure at AIR

CINEMA –

·         He became a part of Indian cinema  right from the silent era, since 1931
·         He was a part of the star studded New Theatres Studio team for nearly 25 years
·      Luminaries like K L Saigal, S D Burman, Hemanta Mukherjee, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle sang under his music direction as did several other prominent artistes from Bengal and the rest of the country
·         He was the first music director who introduced Rabindrasangeet successfully in films
·         He introduced interlude and interlinking music for the first time in Indian film-songs
·         At a time when movie-making was not as prolific as it is now, he sang in, composed music for and occasionally acted in close to 100 movies
·         He was a part of Indian cinema from 1931 to 1969, a period of about 38 years
·         The movies he was associated with were in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tamil
·         He along with director Sri Nitin Bose was instrumental in the introduction of playback singing in Indian cinema

SALIENT FACTS –

·         He recorded his first song when he was only 18 years old
·         He was the first person to popularise Rabindrasangeet by unleashing the magic of Tagore’s songs amongst the masses
·         His music career spanned an awe-inspiring 50 years  
·         He officially composed over 5,000 songs in those 50 years
·         Singers like K L Saigal, S D Burman, Hemant Kumar, Kanan Devi, Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle amongst others sung his compositions
·         His co-stars in films included K L Saigal, P C Barua  and Kanan Devi amongst others
·         He was appointed as the Honorary Advisor to the Folk Entertainment Section of the Government of West Bengal, from 1953 to 1968, by the Chief Minister of West Bengal
·         He was regarded as one of the founding fathers of Bangla Adhunik Gaan, a sub-genre of Bengali songs
·         He had several popular non-film songs in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali to his credit
·         He was the first to introduce elements of Western Music to Indian cinematic & non-cinematic songs

MAJOR AWARDS –

·         He won the National Award  for Best Music Direction in movies on quite a few occasions
·         He received the BFJA award  for his work as music director
·         He received Life Time Achievement Awards from AIR and HMV (now Saregama)

PRESTIGIOUS TITLES –

·         Title of “Surosagar” in 1931
·         Title of “Sangeet Ratnakar” in 1962
·         Padmashree in 1970
·         DADASAHEB PHALKE PURASKAR in 1972 – the highest award presented by the Government of India in the field of Indian Cinema. He was the first music-director to be honoured so.
·         Title of Rabindra Tattacharya in 1977

RARE HONOURS –

·         Rabindranath himself allowed him to set tune to a few of his poems, the most popular instance of which is “Diner sheshey ghumer deshey…”
·         He was invited to sing the inaugural song during the launch of television (Doordarshan) in the country
·         At the behest of Sri Sarat Bose, Netaji’s elder brother, he sang “Kadam kadam barhaye jaa…”, set to his version of the tune, with Prime Minister  J L Nehru being present during the recording. Other members of Netaji’s family too lent their voices to this record
·         On Prime Minister Nehru’s request he sang and recorded the Indian National Anthem – “Jana gana mana…” in a style that was deemed to set the parameters to be followed during the singing of the anthem by all Indians. The recording was also played nation-wide at almost every public place to familiarise every Indian citizen with the anthem of their newly formed independent country
·         In the days when ‘globalisation’ was quite unheard of, he enjoyed great fame and popularity both nationally and internationally

POSTHUMOUS HONOURS –

·         The Government of West Bengal renamed Ritchie Road as Pankaj Mullick Sarani in his honour
·         The Department of Information and Culture of the Government of West Bengal celebrated his birth centenary in 2005 with great pomp and splendour
·         The Government of India, paid tribute to his memory by issuing a commemorative postage stamp in 2006
·         The Kolkata Municipal Corporation declared his residence at Sebak Baidya Street a Heritage Site in 2007
·         The Kolkata Municipal Corporation supported the erection of a statue in his honour at Maddox Square Park on Pankaj Mullick Sarani in 2010 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Introduction

Pankaj Kumar Mullick
(May 10, 1905 to February 19, 1978)
Pankaj Kumar Mullick (a.k.a Pankaj Mullick) is a name that has become synonymous with the history of Indian Music. He was multifaceted genius who was a singer, music-composer, actor, educator and administrator all rolled-into-one. In a career that spanned almost fifty years, he had many firsts to his credit. Some of these are:

  • He was the first person to popularise Rabindrasangeets (songs composed my Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore) among the masses.
  • He was first music director under whom play-back was introduced in Indian films.
  • He was the first music director who brought in elements of Western music in Indian film music.
  • He was the first music director to be awarded the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award by the Government of India for his pioneering activities in the arena of Hindi and Bengal film music.
This Blog among other things, will highlight his achievements, analyse his works, collate information about his contributions and pay tribute to his genius.