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Newly launched Utpal Sampa Kala Kendra

January 21, 2022

The newly formed Utpal Sampa Kala Kendra in Kolkata, the brainchild of scholar/writer Dr.Utpal K Banerjee, has plans for Research, Documentation, Publication and Workshop Initiatives. The aim is to be creative and innovative; widely relevant; speedy execution; modest goals; and result-oriented. Some of the projects in the offing, proposed by Dr. Banerjee, are listed below.

1. Classical Music: One Nation, One Music (Ek Bharat, Ek Sangeet)
Indian classical music bifurcated into Hindustani and Carnatic systems in 13th century, as noted by Saint Matanga in his treatise Brahaddesi. While the ragas remained somewhat common (with several added in Carnatic stream), the singing styles, musical ornamentations and repertoire of lyrics and their contents all grew enormously different.

After taking into account wide diversities, is it possible to hone the two systems together tentatively, and yet creatively, to let a unified all India classical music system emerge, almost as it might have existed eight centuries ago as one nation, one music (Ek Bharat, Ek Sangeet)? [The interval of 800 years, after all, is not too long a time-interval in a historical perspective.]

Main resource person - Iman Das, celebrated musician of Patiala Gharana, Bengaluru
Associates - Lalitha-Nandini Muthuswamy, the globally noted "Violin Sisters" from Carnatic system, Chennai

2. Temple Music Instruments of South India
Temples of South India have known some 150 musical instruments over history, out of which some have fallen into virtual disuse. There exist some instruments for which only one player is available today.

Can one make an audio-video documentation of these instruments and capture their spirit of performance?

Main resource person - Lalitha Muthuswamy, Chennai

3. Dance style of Uday Shankar
After the premature closure of Shankar's Almorah Dance Centre (1939-41) and the making of the film Kalpana, Shankar's talented disciples scattered all over India and opened their own dance groups, using own methodology. Shankar's illustrious family scions also are running their dance centres, using own style of teaching predominantly based on Shankar. Only Amala Shankar had continued teaching exclusively Shankar's style as long as she ran her Uday Shankar Dance Centre, but there does not seem to be any video documentation available on his specific methodology developed at Almorah.

Can research efforts be directed to create audio-video documentation of Shankar's own grammar of dance, based on the surviving learning and literature?

Main resource person - Aditi Sinha (groomed, with her sister Moushri, for 35 years' dedicated grooming under Amala Shankar)
Associate - Ujjwal Bhattacharya (for audio-video documentation)

4. Dhrupad-Dhamar bonding with classical dance
Mahagami Gurukul has already evolved Dhrupadi Kathak and Dhrupadi Odissi. They have also experimented with all the seven forms of recognized classical dances, save Sattriya. Interestingly, both Sattriya and Dhrupad-Dhamar has a devotional underpinning of Krishna Lila.

Will they like to experiment and evolve a repertoire of Dhamar-Sattriya and have their total efforts also audio-video documented?

Main resource person - Parwati Dutta, Director of Mahagami Gurukul, and Dean, Mahagami University, Aurangabad
Associates - a Sattriya dancer (to be nominated) and other persons as needed

5. Feminine psyche in folk songs of undivided Bengal
Much like the "Sas-Nanadiya" genre of Hindustani classical music, Indian folk music is also strewn with compositions predominantly by women who found this form as the only available outlet for their pent-up emotions and sentiments.

Can a survey be made for a limited number of folk song genres in West Bengal (say, Tusu, Bhadu, Jhumur) and Bangladesh (say, Dhanail, Shari, Jari) and arrive at some qualitative idea of the dominant feelings and the depth and reach of their mind?

Main resource person -Prof. Dr. Krishna Dasgupta
Associate - Lubna Mariam, Director, 'Shadhona', Dhaka (in principle, agreed to cover the Bangladesh survey), Bangladesh

6. Research Publications
Shubhi Publications, the well-known publishers in Delhi on Indian arts and culture (with their titles distributed by 'Amazon') have agreed to publish the five Audio-Visual Research Monographs: Utpal Sampa Kala Kendra, in the novel mode of a book with illustrated text, along with a pen-drive attached to the back cover (inside) carrying the audio-video illustrations from the research work.

Main resource person - Shubhi Publications, Gurgaon

7. Public Information Bank on Indian Puppeteers
Sampa Ghosh had earlier created a database alphabetically with a State wise, category wise list of puppeteers with full particulars that can be accessed from a map of India, by clicking on the State.

Could the same be revived, expanded in scope and updated with a 1-2 minute video clipping of each puppeteer's show?

Main resource person - Avishek Ghosh, software specialist
Associate -Sudip Gupta, Director, Dolls' Theatre (for data collection, updation and data entry)

8. Public Information Bank on Indian Theatre
Can a very similar approach be used to create a database on Indian theatre groups, State wise, language wise with names of the major theatre groups  and their directors with full particulars and a 2-minute video clipping of their any one major performance?

Main resource person - Avishek Ghosh
Associate - Ujjwal Bhattacharya (with help for data collection and data entry)

9. Public Information Bank on Indian classical dancers
A database to be created State wise, style wise, together with a 2-minute performance clipping of each dancer.

Main resource person - Avishek Ghosh
Associate - Poulomi Chatterjee, noted Manipuri dancer

10. Training Workshop
Can young aspirants be trained at its premises, on a token payment of fee, theatre acting and voice training - in cooperation with 'Urbikantha' amateur theatre group -- in a weekly workshop taken by eminent theatre directors?

Main resource person - Debesh Roy Choudhuri, noted director for 30 years of the prestigious 'Bohurupee' group
Associate - Ujjwal Bhattacharya

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