In Memory of Late Sri Pranabangshu Mukherjee

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while but couldn’t due to college work. Now that I am once again in the transition between semesters, I suppose it’s the right time. It’s about my mother’s sarod (Indian classical stringed instrument) teacher, with whom she became acquainted in 1987, and from whom I too had the fortune of learning for a short time.

I couldn’t really find anything about him on the internet, and it felt like he had been erased. This post is meant to be a little corner of the internet dedicated to him.

Photo of Master moshai
A photo of the Master taken around 2003.

Master moshai, as we fondly addressed him, was a kind-hearted, jovial gem of a person, despite his earlier life circumstances. Travelling to his family home as part of my mother’s sarod recitals was a core childhood memory for me - taking the metro from Tollygunge to Belgachia, and then a rickshaw to Paikpara colony. His home gave off a warm, old-world vibe and I would sit with ma as she practiced in the living room, interspersed with his advice and critique. He was very fond of me, and his daughter gave me the nickname of “chatterbox” because I used to blab a lot as a kid. This was during my school summer vacations, as ma and I used to travel to Kolkata to stay with my grandparents at Naktala.

I used to be spellbound on hearing either of them play classical ragas, and so it was only a matter of time before I had a sarod in my hands too. Alas, I was not a very focused student then, so while I passed the first level examination (also conducted at their home), I never took it up further. My mother couldn’t continue her lessons later either, due to life circumstances. Master moshai passed toward his heavenly abode on 11th July, 2009, following the passing of his wife, an equally sweet lady.

I’ve added below an old profile on his life verbatim. I’ll update this post with anything else I can find on him.

Pranabangshu Mukherjee is one of the foremost sarod players in the nation today. He received his first lesson from Sri Sita Kumar Dutta of Ustad Karamatulla and Kukubh Khan gharana, and he refined his playing under various maestros of the Alauddin (Maihar) gharana. He improved his 'taal' and 'lay' under the able guidance of professor Shamal Bose.
He stood first class first in the All India Competition in 1960 and also received an award in the Inter Collegiate Music festival of 1959. He is enlisted as a sarod player for All India Radio, Calcutta in the 'B' group, since 1981. He gave his sarod recital on Calcutta TV and on many outstation programmes of the AIR also. His programmes in the Sadarang Music Conference of 1975 and others in Calcutta were widely appreciated by then critics and his audiences.
Some other conferences where he was invited to play include the Pune Film Institute, Vishwa Bharati (Shanti Niketan), Sangeet Mandali and Swar Sadhana in Gujarat. He gave his most recognized performance nationwide as part of the AIR Tuesday Night Concert on 9th February, 1988.
He maintains the purity of the ragas in his imitable style. His improvisation of 'alap' and 'jor' mesmerizes his audience. Also noteworthy are his 'laykari' in the 'gat' and 'dhima' portions of his play, and in the 'drut' portion his 'bandish', fast 'tans' and 'jhala' are worth mentioning.
He earned his Sangeet Pravarkar certification from Allahabad Prayag Sangeet Samiti.
Old record of AIR Calcutta
Excerpt from an AIR Calcutta archive listing from July 3rd, 1983, with Master moshai having played at 9.30AM and 9.50AM the next day (taken from Google Books).