‘It is the dream of every classical musician to play at Sawai’

Rohan Ambike
Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Chatting up tabla player Rohen Bose, who is performing in the city, on Friday

Born in the family of legends, Rohen Bose trained under his father Pt Debojyoti Bose.  Later he was under the tutelage of his elder uncle, Pt Kumar Bose, of Banaras Gharana. Pt Bose has trained his nephew to become his deserved legatee. He has also taken intense training on accompaniment from his younger uncle, Acharya Jayanta Bose.
He has accompanied his uncles and father at many concerts in different Indian cities. As a multi-percussionist, he has also performed with fusion bands and orchestras.
We chat him up ahead of his performance in the city...

This is the third time you are performing in Pune. Can you share your experience of performing in the city?
Pune makes for a great audience. Almost every third house here has a member who is acquainted with music. I get a lovely feeling when I perform here. Many times I feel that it is the same as Kolkata. This is what I like of Pune.

Speaking of Pune, one cannot miss talking about Bhimsen Joshi Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav. What are your views on it?
It is the dream of every classical musician to perform at Sawai. My guru has performed there and if I get a chance, I will be overjoyed.
However, to perform at Sawai you should be mature enough to handle that stage. This maturity only comes with years of practice and performing at other venues.

How is it being a part of the Bose family?
My journey with tabla started at a young age under my father’s, guidance. Later I started taking tabla lessons from my uncle Pt Kumar Bose. My father and my uncles have been trained by my grandfather Pt Biswanath Bose, who was one of the first Bengali tabla players. In those days, most of the solo tabla maestros were from Varanasi and Lucknow. This legacy also brings a lot of expectations and at times uninvited comparison from people. It’s taken for granted that I am going to perform the best.  

You were into filmmaking and lately shifted to tabla. How did this transformation come about?
My father, apart from his solo performances, has also been giving music to various documentaries, films and for other Bengali artists. That brought me somewhere close to the art of filmmaking.

Although I was performing since my school days, I had not thought of taking it up as a profession. I was inclined to make films and wanted to become a director. However, I lacked proper education in it.

During my first year of college at Ravindra Bharti University (RBU), I had shot a documentary on my uncle, Pt Kumar Bose. During a duet performance in 2013, when I went up on the stage and saw the audience, I realised the aura around my uncle. I told myself, ‘I’d better be serious about this’. Since then, it is only tabla.

Can you tell us about your presentation on ‘The Language of Tabla: A Linguistic Discourse’?
During the three years at RBU, I learnt a lot about music and musicology, which was my degree subject. I took up tabla as a subject for my Masters. I liked what I learnt at the university. However, I always felt that there is a lot that can be done in music exploration and music critique. This gave me an idea to do a research paper on music, especially music literature.

My research took me to the music literature of Banaras Gharana wherein the music literature was actually a combination of structured language along with the syllables of tabla. That caught my eye.

I started writing poems in this composition and used to gift them to my guru and my father on their birthdays or special occasions. Further research got me  in touch with some experts and friends from Jawaharlal Nehru University, who told me that this was actually a language used some 200 years back. All this gave birth to the research paper.
Who are your idols in the world of tabla?
My guru is my idol. Apart from him, there are two people I look up to. One is Pt Suresh Talwalkar and Pt Subhankar Banerjee. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Pt Talwalkar in person. I have just listened to his music and I am amazed with his contribution to solo tabla performance.  
Pt Banerjee is someone whom I have watched closely, as he is my father’s friend. These two names have always overwhelmed me.

ST Reader Service
Rohen Bose will perform at Gandharva Mahavidyalay, near Appa Balwant Chowk on Friday, September 15. The event will start at 6 pm.

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