Kolkata Bangla Band KALPASHABDA Explores Sounds of Ethnic Folk Instruments of Bengal (Interview & Live Concert)

By Hirak Bhattacharyya

Band Kalpashabda from Kolkata

[KALPASHABDA Kolkata Bangla Band]Calcutta, March 31, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Kalpashabda are a five-member Bengali folk-fusion music group (the term "band" is often used in Calcutta for such groups for unknown reasons) from Kolkata. With the help of their artistry in a traditional folk posture, the group has successfully created melodious and mysterious symphonic tunes.

The five-member group often refer to themselves as the five Pandavas of Kalpashabda, and materialize their ideas by their performances with the help of ethnic instruments. The members are Sabyasachi, Raja, Ritwick, Mriganavi and Amit.

Some excerpts of Kalpashabda's conversation with WBRi's Hirak Bhattacharyya:

How did the group Kalpa Shabda happen ?

Kalpashabda live in concert

We have taken up this profession or entered in the stream easily. We got inspiration from all our family members. Our plus point is that we all the time ponder over the subject and deeply cultivate to reach our goal by rendering extreme satisfaction to our audience. The inspiring agents of Mriganavi and Amit are their beloved wives and parents - both of them votaries of Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti. They have established their excellance in their performasnces. Ritwick learnt the art of flute playing from Netaicharan Mahapatra and subsequently derived immense help from the team elders. Raja was in service first - he later joined the team being inspired by his family to enrich the group with his honest zeal. Therefore family influence and inspiration are the main agents which led the all of them to take up this profession.

There are a lot of names-but you refer to yourselves Pancha Pandava - why?

The Pancha Pandavas fought bravely to uphold the values of truth and dharma despite their limitations, and finally succeeded. Here we have been struggling hard against gadgetry to sustain our supremacy with the help of ethnic instrument, so we consider the name is absolutely appropriate.

What sorts of instruments you handle or play?

Indian Drum (dhak), Tomtom (Bengal Dhol), Santhali Tomtom (Madol), Dotara, Mandolin, Bamboo Flute and so on.

Where do you see yourself after five years?

It's very difficult to answer. If the world is not destroyed within that time, we would stay with common people with a sense of fellow feeling.

What's your future thinking in regard to your team - do you want to establish yourselves as aesthetic artists or professionals?

The basis of universal acceptance as aesthetic artists or professionals is acceptance by our audience. We will not shy away from transforming our skills from professional to aesthetic appex or vice versa.

How do you distinguish yourself from similar or competing bands in Kolkata ?

We don't have any such competitor- we are always is search of inventing new ways.

Are you your won competitors?

Yes, but it's a controversial matter as we play on common instruments, those are neither intricate nor we try to expound our loredom. We don't feel the need of fraction or fusion.

Then you are  just modifiers, aren't you?

Yes,that’s just right.

Have you ever thought of playing Dhak with Tabla?

Musicians generally consider themselves as competitors of vocal artists instead of accompanists or followers. But we play on our instruments just to accomplish our selves.

Any incidents or artists that inspire you ?

This is a very vital question - there are many legends like Balaram Hazara or Bimal Gupta who never appeared in the limelight. They were not concerned about audience appreciation, but their performance is legendary - they look their art to the apex height - inspired us, and we hope to achieve success on their shown path.

We would consider it enough if we can score 2% only of their total scores. Stoical devotee singers of Bengal had produced astonishing tunes by playing a “Dotara” or “Dhamak” but they had no platform to perform their exquisite art as we have to exhibit for our town or urban living. We are notation-based singers but they were practically much more skilled in comparision to us.

What lies in the future ?

The future will speak for itself. Again, we don’t try to export our erudition, we commit a lot of mistakes and we are deliberate in our attempts to reach perfection. We think that mere showmanship or erudition is not the means to associate with common men. The TV viewers or listernes are requested to detect our fault if any they notice.

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