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A life in music

A life in music
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First Published: Fri, May 27 2011. 12 29 AM IST

On a good note: Anil Biswas. Courtesy Saaransh Publications
On a good note: Anil Biswas. Courtesy Saaransh Publications
Updated: Sat, Jul 02 2011. 02 04 PM IST
Going by the number of invitations to book launches that one receives these days, it would seem that every other Indian has taken to authoring books, publishing and launching them in style. Despite all this prolific literary activity, it does seem a pity that the stylish launches, the invitation cards, the newsletters and the publicity are largely reserved only for books written in English, and not for writing in Hindi and other Indian languages. What a pity then that some wonderful writing never gets due attention or, at best, is noticed only in some circles. Add to this the problem of sourcing and buying books in Hindi. It requires a fair amount of dedicated investigation to discover where one can buy books written in languages other than English, or even if they can be ordered online. Books on music are even more difficult to come by and perhaps that is why I missed out on acquiring a copy of Sharad Dutt’s extensively researched and brilliant biographical work on the life and music of veteran music director Anil Biswas, titled Ritu Aaye Ritu Jaaye.
On a good note: Anil Biswas. Courtesy Saaransh Publications
Fortunately for me, some well-meaning spammer forwarded an announcement about the book on email a while back and I was able to buy a copy. This is the second edition of the book, released after the demise of Biswas on 31 May 2003. Dutt, an acclaimed figure in the world of media and broadcasting, shared a close association with Biswas, whom he first met when the author joined Doordarshan and was allotted a room adjoining that of the composer. Biswas was, at the time, director of the national orchestra at Akashvani. But greatly in awe of the renowned music director, Dutt struck a rapport with Biswas only in 1976, during the making of a Doordarshan programme on singer Mukesh, who died in August 1976. Over the years the two grew close, and Dutt often urged Biswas (whose literary bent of mind manifested itself in the writing of song lyrics and poems in Bengali) to pen his autobiography. Biswas turned the tables on Dutt by declaring that if at all his life was to be documented, it was not for him to do so himself, and that he considered Dutt a suitable candidate for the job! Thus began an extended series of discussions and chat sessions where Biswas shared his memories with Dutt, who captured them on tape. The sessions resulted in approximately 60 memory-packed hours of recorded material, which provided Dutt with the ingredients that went into the making of Ritu Aaye Ritu Jaaye.
What draws me to the book is that despite the author’s obvious and abundant admiration and deep respect for Biswas, he does not turn him into a mythical figure with wings, or a demi-god, as often happens in books on Indian musicians. We meet Anil Biswas, the human, albeit an extraordinary one whose enormous contribution to the world of Hindi film music commands reverence and immense admiration. An added bonus that Dutt gifts to his readers is comprehensive and easy-to-refer-to lists of his work as a music director and composer, the singers he worked with, Biswas’ Bengali adaptations of his favourite Urdu poetry from the works of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Mir Taqi Mir and others, and even translations of articles written by Biswas originally in Bengali, on themes such as the ghazal, orchestral music and music for ballets. Thank you, Mr Dutt, for sharing with us the world of Anil Biswas.
Write to Shubha at musicmatters@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, May 27 2011. 12 29 AM IST