Interview | Padma Bhusan Debu Chaudhuri and son Prateek Chaudhuri - Sitar Maestros (Video)


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On a typical humid rainy Kolkata evening we got the opportunity to meet Famous Sitar Pundits, Father Son Duo Debu Chaudhuri and Prateek Chaudhuri at Golpark Ramakrishna Mission where they came to perform Jugalbandi.

PANDIT DEBU CHAUDHURI - North Indian Classical Hindustani Instrumental SitarAwarderd with the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest Civilian Govt. Awards of India for his contributions in the field of music, Devabrata Chaudhuri alias Pundit Debu CHaudhuri, is one of India's most respected, leading and outstanding musicians of today.

Panditji received his early training from the late Shri. Panchu Gopal Datta for some time and later for 38 years from the veritable great master and the most traditional exponent of Sitar, SANGEET ACHARYA USTAD MUSHTAQ ALI KHAN of the "SENIA GHARANA", the traditional school of Indian Classical Music named after the great MIAN TANSEN, the father of Indian Music.. Akin to the seven swaras (notes) that are the heart and soul of any musical creation and composition, howsoever old or new, his personality is seven-fold. India’s foremost Sitar maestro, respected Guru and teacher, composer of numerous mellifluous symphonies, creator of eight new Ragas, author of three books and several monographs, eminent musicologist and academic, and winner of numerous awards and honours, both national and global.

Pandit Debu Chaudhuri started to learn Sitar at the pretty early age of 4 and he made his public debut at the age of 12 and his first broadcast for All India Radio was in the year 1948. Ever since, the association with the sitar, and through it the music, has been increasingly rewarding to himself and to those who have been able to savour it.The year 2002 is witness to Panditji's 54th year of broadcasting on the National network of the All India Radio, and the 40th year of teaching at the University of Delhi, Faculty of Music and Fine Arts. His first National Programme was featured in the year 1963 on All India Radio and became the TOP CLASS (graded by the National Network, AIR) artiste in the 1971. This year has brought many more honours and laurels to Panditji, including a special honours and felicitations by the Cultural Centres of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta for his life time achievement in the field.

Panditji's creativity in music and his academic acumen are widely accepted, recognized and known all over the World. As the creator of 8 new Ragas, authoring three book on Indian Music, presenting several papers in various seminars all over India and abroad, successfully guiding 33 Ph.D. scholars are but a small though substantial quantification of his eminence. Others include having a special project of recording 24 CDs for 24 hours of the day in the USA, delivering 87 lectures in 67 days in Sweden in 1984 for Govt of India and performing all over the World for more than 70 occasions.His zeal for the propagation of music to students has led far and wide. He has Lectured at more than 130 Universities on Indian classical music and culture around the world: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangkok, Belgium , Bosnia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Cuba, China, Dubai, France, Fiji, Guyana, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, U.K., U.S.S.R., U.S.A, Venezuela, Yugoslavia etc.Among his manifold accomplishments, he provided in-flight music for Indian Airlines and composed Music for Indian TV short film and also for German TV. In the year 1983 he was involved as an advisor to the project for promoting Indian music in the schools of Leicestershire, England, under the sponsorship of the Government of India and Leicestershire County Council, a project which, apart from being the first of its kind, was also replicated in Birmingham at a later stage.All these achievements make his position in the field of music a special one which, in addition to being in itself an achievement, is also, as a matter of record, very hard to match.

PRATEEK CHAUDHURI - North Indian Classical Instrumental SitarPrateek Chaudhuri, a brilliant performer, is acclaimed as one of the most outstanding Sitar players of the country today amongst the present generation. Born in New Delhi, he has been groomed in a musical atmosphere since his birth under guidance of his father and guru, . He also had the great fortune to learn from his Dadaguru (father’s guru), Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan Sahab, the great legend of the “Senia” tradition. It must be mentioned that simplicity and clarity are the hallmark of his style. Amongst his numerous achievements, Prateek ji has been ranked as an “A Class” Artist by the National Television and Radio of the Govt. of India. In his concerts and concert tours in India and Abroad, Prateek ji has been accompanied by almost all the leading Tabla Maestros of the country including the Late Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan, Pandit Kumar Bose, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, Shri Bikram Ghosh, Ustad Akram Khan, Shri Sandeep Das, Ustad Rafiuddin Sabri and many other reputed players of the country. He  has been awarded the “Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee Award” from Lucknow, “The Best Instrumentalist Award” from Delhi and the “Surmani Award” from Mumbai, amongst many other Awards and recognitions. His name has also been listed amongst the prominent personalities of the World in American Biographies Intl., and Asia’s Who’s Who. Prateek has performed in front of then President of United States of America, Mr. Bill Clinton during his first visit to India, the President of India, Shri Abdul Kalam and Shri R. Venkataraman,the Prime Minister of Norway during his trip to India. He has performed at Major Venues across the world including the prestigious Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Centre, in USA and the famous Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. He is the only Indian musician to have performed with the Renowned “Swarovsky Music Wattens” Orchestra, consisting of 80 musicians, from Austria in a Special Concert held in Jaipur, India in the year 2005, which was highly appreciated and profusely praised by the audience. He is the Creator and the Main Conductor of the “rare”, “unique”, and sought after Grand Musical Orchestral Ensemble of the country India – i.e “ SOUL OF INDIA -The Grand Orchestra ” which has got musical elements of great variety including Indian Classical, Western Classical. Rock music, Jazz music, Sufi music, Music from Rajasthan, Pop music, a Grand Rhythmic ensemble known as ‘Taal Vadya Kacheri’ and also other elements of World Music presented in a Grand scale. Prateek ji was invited to give a Special Live Concert for BBC 3 Radio in London. He has also excelled in each stage of his education. He is the recipient of the Gold Medal for his M.A. (Music), while he has also secured the first position in M.Phil (Music) examinations and is Ph.D (Music) i.e a Doctorate. from the University of Delhi. At present, he not only performs all over the world, but also teaches as a Reader (i.e. an Associate Professor) at the Faculty of Music of the University of Delhi, India, thus being a unique and rare combination of an eminent performer and teacher together in one , which is very hard to find.