Anupam Sengupta - Composer, Musician and Guitarist

LONDON - JULY 24:  (L-R) An original painting ...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Anupam Sengupta in Limca Book of Records for corporate workshop concept Anthems
Certificate awarded to Anupam Sengupta and Shouvik Roy for their National Record in the LIMCA Book of Records. Isquare Venture's ANTHEMS facilitates corporate houses to create their own anthems relevant to a company or a team. The company was established by Anupam and Souvik in June, 2006.

Anupam Sen Gupta

is playing music since 1980. He grew up in the era of decadence of blues and rock i.e. 1980s. Anupam did some serious bands and gigging before he was almost forced to take up family profession of shipping where he worked successfully for 11 years dabbling in maritime management and operations. He waited for the day to quit the "glamor" of maritime trade and plunged into the struggle of professional music, which he did in 1997 when he shifted home to Delhi.

After that, among his long chain of achievements, he has been in the top 12 in India at the prestigious Levi’s Great Indian Rock 2002; a national finalist earlier; directed music for a feature film in Assam; was first to bring professionalism to music education in North India; opened the first professional chain of guitar schools; students earned place in Limca Book of Records and released a single; is an expert with MSN portal; is a consultant for allied usage of music in education (multiple intelligence); first to introduce strategic usage of music in corporate in India; works have participated in international festivals; directs music for animation movies supported by IIT Delhi; works recently went to Europe and now going to Japan; a main stream accomplished guitar blues player ...

Anupam was born in Lucknow on the 4th of December 1968 to a prosperous family who were in tea estates, shipping, medicine, bureaucracy and politics. His father, Capt. Aloke Kumar Sen Gupta, being a master mariner at that point in time, he grew up in high seas sailing from one continent to the other.

Anupam's parents: Capt Aloke Kumar and Nandini Sen Gupta

The memories may not be clear of the above phase but the first song that he recollects having heard on board was in early 70s. The song was CCR’s Have you ever seen the rain?.

The reflection of that time is surely more than music. It was the freedom to run around the ship and have all the chicken black pepper sandwiches. The memories of having pushed the tire of a dinky toy car into the nostril to sitting on his father’s lap in the gondola in Venice are of more significance.

Little Anupam in London with parents, aunt and cousin (1972)

Anupam always admired the smart uniform that his father wore and would end up drawing only ships till a long time before other influences came in. He, as a matter of fact, had decided very early in life that we would sail on the high seas. The concept of high seas would change later in life. By 1973, his father decided to quit sailing and start his own work in Kolkata. By this time, Anupam’s mother, Nandini Sen Gupta had gathered a whole lot of long playing vinyl records which were available those days. Elvis was the King and a King to Anupam too though one particular song that still comes back in thoughts and in life is Jim Reeves singing Railroad Bum. His mother was a great influence to various art forms. She encouraged him to learn ballroom dancing at a very tender age and this was the time when he was exposed to the likes of Blue Danube and beyond. Painting was an art form that helped him to bring out his fantasies on canvas.

Interestingly, almost all his paintings would have a mountain and a hut with the sun rising. Later in life Anupam realized that such an obsession was due to the paternal family roots being in Darjeeling from the time of his great grandfather. Originally they hail from Shalab, Pabna district, erstwhile Bengal now Bangladesh.

Life in school was almost regular with him being a bit of a bully. Anupam lead a much secured life though family values made him understand modesty.

Anupam's brother Ayan Sen Gupta

Anupam's brother, Ayan Sen Gupta, was born was in 1973 and this was a time when Anupam had lesser number of people to pamper him. So he had a lot of time beyond regular routine. And such valuable time was valuably used in fantasizing. And the greatest one was to own a toilet with gold taps as inspired by certain fairy tales.

Till 1980 all was different. This was the year he went to middle school. His friend, Shonkho Shubro Sen’s elder brothers were heavily into a different kind of music. Shankho would often bring a record or the new invention of that time, cassettes, home.

Anupam’s world suddenly changed. He heard a different sound and a sound that would change his life forever. A sound that took the dream of being a sailor away. A sound that made him speak out.

This was the time when he heard Eric Clapton, Grand Funk Railroad, CCR, CSNY, The Beatles, Allman Brothers, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the list can go on. Shankho would play the slide guitar and inspired Anupam to learn the instrument.

A tired Anupam after a music workshop in Singapore

Interestingly, R.D. Burman’s music had a lot of post hippie cult influence and was so different from what Anupam had earlier heard of others. Songs from Yaadon Ki Baaraat with Tariq performing with a guitar in hand changed it all. He pestered his parents to buy him a guitar for his birthday. His father refused and advised him to learn the violin. Anupam was adamant and after about 3 odd months of domestic upheavals, his mother managed to convince his father to get him one.

That was the 4th of December 1980. He tried going to a local music school in Gariahat, Kolkata where he lived. But his expectations of getting a teacher with long hair, flowery shirts, pointed shoes, long side burns and killer guitar skill didn’t work out. He dropped out after 7 classes after having learnt to read the very basics of staff notation. Some books here and there, he started learning himself. His first performance was at Ballygung Shiksha Sadan auditorium in the winters on 1981 playing simple chords for Shonkho playing We Shall Overcome on the slide guitar.

Around this time, one his greatest influences was his friend Raju’s father who owned a guitar manufacturing unit and a shop at Jagu Bazar, Bhowanipore, Kolkata. Teacher’s Pet as the shop was called as like a temple for Anupam. He had bought his first guitar from here.

Raju lived two houses away and Anupam would often run to his father to request him to help him with some chords. Raju’s father, Niren Mukherjee and his uncles had a band in the 50s and 60s. He would scold Anupam and ask him to go through his rudiments. He would say, ‘I shall teach you how to play the B major chord only if you know how to play the A major’. He formed his first band with local musicians who were by that time going to college. His father detested it. "The scare of Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll always prevailed in my mind when you picked up the guitar”, Capt. Sen Gupta had shared with his son much later in life.

The band was called LSD influenced by Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Anupam’s uncles would completely freak out on the name of the band until Anupam came up with an idea and explained that it was an abbreviation of Love, Sacrifice and Divinity. It worked and the degree of resistance decreased. Nevertheless it remained as Anupam would play around and spend hours practicing.

Soon Anupam started meeting various musicians across the city. Some of whom are into main stream professional music in India today. During such a phase he met Debashis. Both got along well and performed a bit together. Anupam remembers this meeting as Debashish was the only musician from the same age group that he knew. Also Debashis and Raju were in school together. So after school, Debashis would often come over to Anupam’s ‘den’ on the 2nd floor of his house and jam together.

His second band was with three school mates i.e. Jayonto, Somen and Amit. The band was called the Wise Guys and this was the first time his band had a logo to boast off. Somen later went to Berklee to study vocals and Jayonto went G.I.T. in Hollywood. Amit sadly disappeared.

Anupam also wanted to study music at G.I.T. but was flatly refused by his entire family. This irked the rebel in him. He would spend time with P.C. and Lew Hilt of Shiva and gather all that he could from the masters. Those days the concept of concerts prevailed and O.A.T. at the Dhakuria Lakes was the Mecca for it. Anupam would reach early in the afternoon to watch how P.C. would do the band sound check and would sit in the front to see how he would play to come back home to practice. Sometimes successfully but most of the time unsuccessfully as he lacked the skill. P.C. Mukherjee of Shiva was a major influence and has helped Anupam in many ways. He would give him plectrums, books on scales and take him to their rehearsals at Park Lane.

As Anupam began to grow up, the concept of playing covers lost its charm. He always wanted to make his own music. This caused him trouble too. Some of his early works have gone in doing ‘ghost compositions’ for others.

He took up a job in shipping as pushed from home. His father told him, ‘Go and work with others before you join my business. Learn to take orders first before you give them’. He worked as a Management Trainee with U.S. Lines INC and later in various responsible positions with Regional Container Lines (Singapore), Thames Shipping Limited (London), and Marine Container Services – Bengal Tiger Line GmbH (Hamburg).

Anupam with Hindi Rock band Trishul (2001)

Music never took a back seat and the desire to breakaway to do professional music always gave Anupam sleepless nights. And this happened after working internationally in shipping for over 11 years on the 1st of August 1997. Anupam left home and relationships back home and came to Delhi to start a new life in professional music.

Anupam and Swami Swaraswati Giri - one of the monks who had given him shelter in the mountains

Since then after a lot of struggle and living partially in the mountains with monks, he formed a band called the Anupam, The Karmic Circle. A song called Funk Monk which originally is a tribute to his spiritual guru in the mountains was selected in the top 12 in India at the Levi’s Great Indian Rock 2002. He was covered widely by media including NDTV, The Hindustan Times, Star News among others.


Pia Sukanya

Anupam with Pia Sukanya: The Karmic Circle (2002)

  • Funk Monk
  • Highway Man
  • Namoh Shivaya
  • When The Within
  • You ain't know

Just before this, Anupam liked a lady and had married her to make a home.

Malini, Anupam's wife, is the Head of Department, Social Sciences with Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. She teaches Economics.

With all the moral support from Malini and his mother, he started his first music school, Anupam’s Guitar Workshop. He started with 5 students and in 6 months it had turned out to be a fruitful venture. By this time, the school had around 150 odd students. Soon the schools grew in size and dimensions with 5 branches in North India and being the first professionally geared music schools in the country. Presently Anupam has leased out his schools and is one of the biggest names in the profession. The strength is on an average more than 500.

Malini and Anupam - soon after their wedding

The idea was to create a source of sustenance and a method to spread awareness. Both worked for him. His student band, Illusion has earned place in Limca Book of Records as the youngest band in the country to release an album. The album was released by eminent Hindustani singer Shubha Mudgal’s record label, Underscore Records. His personal works have been released by Rock Street Journal, Café Coffee Day, International Library of Poetry (USA) among others. He has directed the music for a successful feature film in Assam called, Koi Na Mor Dhuniya.

Anupam has performed at prestigious venues / platforms like Friends of Music, Great Indian Rock, Lakeside Jam, Himalayan Blues among others.

He regularly directs music for animation movies made with the support of the Digital Heritage lab at IIT, Delhi and Spic Macay. His recent works participated in some leading international festivals including one recently in France. Anupam has worked with leading documentary maker Katherine Widgery. Shadow of Time where he designed the sound was exhibited in Canada.

He has taken music to new dimensions altogether. After attending a 6 months’ workshop spearheaded by Harvard alumni, Ashish Rajpal (iDiscoveri) on alternate methods of education and Multiple Intelligence, Anupam has developed a module to use music as a tool for dual education and as an entry point to other subjects in school.

Shouvik Roy: collaborartor in strategic usage of music in corporate

Besides, he has collaborated with Shouvik Roy, a leading brand consultant and a speaker at various B schools to take music strategically to corporate. Their concept is unique and again a first probably around a lot of continents. They specialize in team building workshops to capture the spirit of the team and convert it into a corporate / team Anthem with the participants which is recorded live at the venue and later digitally mastered and distributed to the team. Aural designing / sonic branding are yet other areas of strategic usage of music in corporate.

Anupam has conducted ‘Anthems’ workshops for ITC WelcomHotel, Genpact, Hewlard Packard Asia Pacific Leadership meet at Singapore, Hewlard Packard Storage works annual meet in India, Baxter India, Cairn Energy leadership meet among others. He has also designed sound for Godfrey Philips, Viva (Dubai) etc.

Saikat Banerjee (of Oorja)

Saikat Banerjee, a close friend, too was a part of the initial project but had to pull out as he had to get back to Kolkata due to the demise of his father. Anupam is an expert with MSN portal and writes regularly for various magazines and journals. He’s had a dedicated page in youth magazine, Sun for over a year.

Amartya Chatterjee

Amartya Chatterjee is the key person who was completely instrumental in getting Anupam back to his roots after 10 years i.e. his visit to Kolkata in 2007 after he left in 1997 to search for avenues to do music professionally.


Cholo Jai Phire: Anupam, Saikat and Shouvik:

Anupam juggles between being a musician, music educator, music director, consultant for allied application of sound in school, corporate workshop facilitator, sound recordist, free lance writer, home maker, cook and an avid traveler. “All that I do is all that I wanted to do. But the variety which I wanted has happened in time and not over night. I am happy I live out of my passion. Music. My greatest desires are to once again make a Bangla band and make documentaries on my experiences as a Bengali”, says Anupam.

Once again? Yes once again. Anupam is one of the first few to form a Bangla band much before the thought caught up. His band ‘Mahakaal’ was one of the first two Bangla bands in West Bengal after the generation of ‘Mohiner Ghoraguli’. He was travelled to Bangladesh on many occasions and has shared a lot of musical moments with stalwarts there. Unfortunately a lot of his initial works have gone doing ‘ghost music’ for others.

“I was only emotional earlier. Now I am only emotional when I am creating anything but beyond that I try to be logical. Times have made me realize that I need to balance the logical and the creative brains. Not that I am always successful but that is what any profession demands I guess. Music like any other profession needs the balance of logic and emotion. Any creative process needs emotional outburst. It needs to break the hymen of barriers that we grow up with. But after the creative process comes to a point when the creator is happy and has done his best, the process to reach out should begin. That means organized marketing like any other profession. And that calls for the logical brain. Who will market us in India? The concept of music managers / lawyers is very strong in the West from over half a century ago. It’s a recognized industry there. But here we need to be our managers. So the battle is tougher here. Music is still not a recognized industry. Music as a profession should be taken not to run away from history or geography but only if the passion is there. To do it and do something more than what has already happened.” sums up Anupam.

Anupam's Music

  • E Minor Blues
  • Enough is Enough
  • Ojhas
  • Smooth Guitar
  • Sunshine in Goa


Enough Is Enough by Anupam

Ojhas by Anupam

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