Launch of Utpal Sampa Kala Kendra
- Tapati Chowdhurie
August 27, 2022
Utpal Sampa Kala Kendra celebrated a grand inaugural start on the 14th of August. It was the eve of the 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence, though some remember it as the day when India was partitioned. Utpal Sampa Kala Kendra is the brainchild of the octogenarian cultural aficionado Dr. Utpal K Banerjee. Age has not withered him of his infinite variety. He inaugurated this unique cultural institution headed by himself, at the ICCR auditorium in Kolkata.
Dr.Utpal K Banerjee
The Kendra has been registered and started its journey on an auspicious muhurtham. The setup is rather ambitious and has on its cards many a project that would run simultaneously, but would be available for all times in an updated form for those who wish to benefit by it. The activities of research, documentation, archiving and publication would be addressed all at once. USKK will ignite the minds of only individual talented artists to cut their teeth on creative and innovative areas that could lead to audio-visual research monographs - and not simple books - that would be relevant at a national level, be of modest goals and capable of speedy execution. The project offers to be totally result oriented. These research outcomes should add value to their own areas of art and culture and, over a period of time, should become transformational.
Judging by the number of research projects already lined up even before the society has started to function formally, the enthusiasm is palpable. 'Re-imagining One Nation, One Music' looks back beyond 800 years historically, when according to Banerjee, Indian classical music system was unified. The Kendra attempts to create a 'research model' combining Hindustani and Carnatic music into a unified raga Swarna Deshi. The second project is 'Dance style of Uday Shankar (as per lessons under Amala Shankar)' where also a prototype has been completed.
On August 14, Swarna Deshi was to be performed together by Iman Das, a noted singer from Patiala Gharana from Bengaluru and Lalitha-Nandini Muthuswamy, known globally as "Violin Sisters", from Chennai. Unfortunately due to unavoidable reasons the music group could not be present. However the audience got to hear excerpts from their recorded version to satisfy them partly.
The dance troupe of Aditi Singha (who, together with her sister Moushri Singha, had learnt the Uday Shankar grammar from Amala Shankar for 35 years) presented a vignette of their fledgling effort. What is more, the A-V research monograph on 'Re-imagining One Nation, One Music' was released by Shubhi Publications, Gurgaon, on the same evening. Meenakshi Mishra, ICCR's new Regional Director chaired the inaugural function of USKK, while Lubna Marium, Director of 'Shadhona' from Bangladesh was the Guest of Honour.
Banerjee feels that there is a felt need of such hand-holding of individual artistes for micro-research, as is seen from research projects already lined up by USKK, such as, Temple Music instruments of South India; Dhrupad music bonding with classical dance (exploring all eight recognized forms); Feminine Psyche in Folk Songs of Undivided Bengal; Laukik and Alaukik in Classical Dances; Growth and Spread of Chhau Dances in India; Power Symbols of Manipuri Femininity; Aesthetics of Shadow Puppets in India; Sutradhar as Storyteller from Kutiyattam to Ankiya Nat; Indian Veena in South-East Asian Music; and two Public Information Banks on Indian Puppeteers and Indian Theatre Groups. As though the above is not enough to start with, some more themes with artistes are waiting behind the wings. Some of them are "The World of Carnatic Music"; "Dance: 360 Degrees" (an evolutionary story); Theatre Titans in Contemporary India (Girish Karnad, Vijay Tendulkar, Mohan Rakesh, Badal Sircar); Contemporary Dance in Indian Metro Cities; and Musical Resonance to Ragamala Paintings.
With such overflowing enthusiasm and no assured financial support yet, USKK is looking forward to donors and philanthropists.
Tapati Chowdhurie trained under Guru Gopinath in Madras and was briefly with International Centre for Kathakali in New Delhi. Presently, she is a freelance writer on the performing arts.