Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An author's notes

Mitra Phukan talks about her new novel, A Monsoon of Music that was launched on Friday in New Delhi.

Indian classical music belongs to a tradition that has resisted being caught in written scores till nearly the present day. For generations, it has been possible to be illiterate and yet a maestro of music. Today, if musicians are also highly qualified academically, it is usually due to factors other than the pursuit of musical excellence alone. But in this changing world, one of the more positive upshots has been committed artistes who are as adept with the pen as with their art practice, and these individuals very often form a bridge between the relatively opposite worlds of the classical arts and the rest of life. Mitra Phukan, a vocalist trained under the late Biren Phukan and now under Pandit Samaresh Choudhury of Kolkata, is among such artistes. The protagonists of her new novel, A Monsoon of Music, being launched by Zubaan and Penguin Books India this Friday evening in New Delhi, are practitioners of Hindustani music. If one is a dedicated student on the brink of professionalism, two are serene gurus and accomplished performers, while the fourth is a globe-trotting star who seems to have it made. The duality between spirituality and materialism of classical music, old-world images and modern performers, a gentle satire on the ambitions of today's youngsters…all these find a place in the novel. Here Mitra speaks about what went into the writing of the book that took her several years. Edited excerpts from a conversation with the author:

Do you perform regularly?
I used to perform very regularly on the radio and TV and in various performances. But now my writing is taking over, it seems. Also, because of all the conflict, it's difficult for organisers to arrange programmes, especially of classical music. People don't want to stay out late. For the last 10-15 years there has been a dwindling of such shows. If there is a bomb blast the atmosphere changes and you don't really feel like organising a music programme. And if there is a bandh on the day...such events cost lakhs of rupees, so people don't want to take the risk of inviting musicians and having to cancel the programme.

Full interview here Hindu

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