By Hirak Bhattacharya
Video: Up Close with Partho Ghosh & Gouri Ghosh
Kolkata, April 29, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Hirak Bhattacharya caught up with the dazzling Bengali recitation and elocution artists Partha Ghosh and Gouri Ghosh in Kolkata. In this video interview, the first couple of the unique performing art form they themselves pioneered share with us in great detail the story of their journey.
Though Gouri Ghosh does not teach currently, preferring instead to spend time with their family, Partho Ghosh runs their popular school “UPOMA” which created history by performing for the first time a program on Salil Chaudhuri featuring artists of the stature of Hemanta Mukherjee and Suchitra Mitra performing songs written and composed by Chaudhuri. Tickets for that program were in very high demand - but the best part is the Ghoshes donated all proceeds after paying the artists to a charity organization supporting orphans. Leading Bengali personalities of Kolkata attended the performance - Aparna sen, Buddhadev Guha, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Dipankar Dey, Santosh Dutta, Swathilekha, Goutam Basu, Bikash Ray and so on. Another presentation was Chiro Kumar Sabha where Hemanta Mukherjee played Akshay as a singer as well as an actor. Plans are afoot to bring Chiro Kumar Sabha back - perhaps made possible with the help of the many spectacularly successful graduates of Upoma.
They had a passion for poetry from early on, and started to perform recitation in college. They credit Akashvani (All India Radio) for bringing them together where they performed in numerous radio programs. Within fifteen days of joining Akashvani, Partho Ghosh was selected to host the legendary “Golpo Dadur Ashor” program for children. Gouri Ghosh hosted “Sobinoye Nibedan”, another wildly popular radio show. Their popularity as elocutionists started to climb rapidly. Another radio show that elevated them further was “Bela-dir Ashor”.
In 1961, they traveled to Nandigram and other remote areas in Bengal to try to bring Rabindranath Tagore’s works closer to the people living there. This trip remains one of the most memorable for them.
Talking about changes, the couple dwell upon how they started off with the desire to demonstrate their talent to a discerning audience and have over time become professional artists. Partha says with a twinkle in his eyes that Gouri is the better reciter among them and sometimes Partha engages the audience via comic acts instead of serious recitation.
Sharing their experience of performing for the Kallol Bengali organization of New Jersey, USA, they remember being pleasantly surprised by an audience request to perform Amitava Dasgupta’s “Kather Chair” - a poem which was recorded in an album published long ago and forgotten.
Talking of albums, their first album was “Rabindra Katha” which remained a best seller for years. “Biday Abhishar” and “Karna Kunti Sambad” featured duet performances, with “Karna Kunti Sambad” going golden - a first for a recitation album.
Partho Ghosh loves history and is an avid collector of dolls, sculpture, paintings and such things from deep rural areas of India to foreign lands. He is also a collector of gramophone records, and among his collection resides Gauhar Jan’s 1902 record - the first record in India.
Among numerous trips to many places in Europe and America, Partho and Gouri Ghosh have visited Washington, DC on many occasions, beginning 1989.