In this video, the versatile flute exponent Ronu Majumdar, widely known for his lively and engaging renditions in classical and cross-over music, presents a bouquet of breath-taking ragas on the bansuri (bamboo flute). Accompanying him on the tabla is Pandit Subhankar Banerjee who delves soulfully into the melody, providing elegant support.
Pandit Majumdar warms up with an alap and jod in Raag Bhoopkali, a rare raga that is believed to be a creation of Ustad Alladiya Khan of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. However, citing its emergence almost forty years after his death (1945), many believe that Bhoopkali is a creation of Pandit Mani Prasad of the Kirana school. The name ‘Bhoopkali’ is also a renewed nomenclature of its original name, ‘Bhoopeshwari,’ which was introduced by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Pandit Majumdar develops the alap with poise and breathy gamaks. The jod is a condensed affair, permeated with difficult phrases that jump between higher and lower octaves with ease. The magnificent trills created with a fluttering technique draws out the charged pathos of Bhoopkali in enigmatic tonal sentences.
Pandit Banerjee joins him with Rupak taal in madhyalay in a composition in Raag Shudh Sarang in the next piece. Pandit Majumdar wields the folksy elements of this raga without ruffling its august, classical texture. He performs super-fast taans (rapid notes) in one breath, jumping between octaves – a feat that can be achieved on a bamboo flute with mammoth patience and immersive practice.
He presents a second composition in this raga in drut Teental. Pandit Banerjee blends intuitive playing into this section, rendering radiance to the breathy and playful tonal sentences of Pandit Majumdar. The recital ends with a jhalla where long, standing notes and vibrato combine with graceful phrasing and virtuosic playing.
Pandit Majumdar concludes his recital with a Kashmiri dhun, a folk tune from the northern, hilly region of Kashmir in India. Steeped in rich reserves of folk culture, Kashmir is a colourful platter of music, art, crafts and agriculture that constitute the main livelihood of its people. With this dhun, he evokes the breath-taking landscapes of this region full of vibrant people with a refined bearing and their tunes filled with mystique. He also deviates into a ‘baul’ tune, the musical genre of the spiritual minstrels of Bengal from eastern India.
From here, he striddles off to another tune eliciting the ‘laggi’ – a fast elaboration on the tabla of a rhythmic composition that is typical of lighter musical forms that emerged out of the spiritual Indian city of Benares. Pandit Banerjee does not leave any expectation unfulfilled, manipulating the rhythm with vivacity and adding dollops of romance to the piece.
Pandit Ronu Majumdar (bamboo flute)
Subhankar Banerjee (tabla)
Gunwant Dhadyalla (tanpura)
Raag Bhoopkali, alap and jod
Raag Shudh Sarang, Thaat: Kalyan, Samay: afternoon
Kashmiri Folk tune