In the mood for a melody

A song from a Satyajit Ray film plays in the background when we call up Moloy Ghosh for the first time. “I am listening to an old cassette I have converted into a CD, just to check whether all the instrumental sounds have been captured correctly,” he tells us. We ask him whether he can convert an ancient Billy Joel LP for us. And a cassette that has some poems recorded three decades back. “Sure, send it,” his voice crackles across the line.

Moloy Ghosh has been converting LPs into CDs since October 2009. Pic/Rajeev Tyagi

We are impressed. Anyone who can recover those timeless songs from ancient records, is God!
In fact, Ghosh is a perfect example of how you can turn your passion into a lucrative profession and convert a tough situation to your advantage. The electrical engineer and marketing professional always had an affinity for music. But he never thought that one day his passion for music would give him a new lease of life. Today, the Delhi resident converts LP records and audio cassettes into CDs and pen drives, digitises them and restores their cover designs.

How he started this venture is an interesting story by itself. As a child, Ghosh, who then stayed at Kolkata, had an affinity for devotional songs. However, when he turned 15, he developed a throat problem due to which the doctor advised him against singing. After he secured admission in electrical engineering at MIT, Manipal, his doctor told him that the verdant surroundings of the campus and the lack of pollution would cure his condition naturally.

Enthused by this, Ghosh started learning music again. But when his father got transferred to New Delhi, Ghosh took up a marketing job in the capital.

“The long working hours and frequent travelling took a toll on my health and I developed Hepatitis B in 2008,” recalls the 43 year old. He was bedridden for six months and was advised against a field job by his doctor. A short stint at a BPO also didn’t help. Finally, Ghosh decided to heed his wife’s advice and follow his passion for music — yet again.

“My wife Chandrani was a great source of motivation. She told me that music is my forte and I should do something related to it.”

So he started teaching Rabindra Sangeet to children from neighbouring colonies. Ghosh also wanted to teach the kids Bengali Kabyageeti (a genre of music) and decided to listen to the LPs of Krishna Chattopadhyay, one of the best exponents of such songs. “Since the LP player (gramophone player) was not working, I called up a leading music shop to ask whether they had Chattopadhyay’s CDs. I was appalled to know that no one had such CDs,” he says.

Thus began his magical musical journey. Initially he looked around for someone who could convert LPs into CDs. When nothing turned up, he decided to give it a shot himself. “I used all my savings and purchased a software from the United States. I wanted to not just digitise the LPs but also remove the hissing sound that emanates from them, re-master their quality and make them at par with CDs,” he says. Gradually through word of mouth, he started getting a steady stream of customers. But fate had something else in store for him.

“One day, a customer told me that what I was doing wasn’t that unique and then asked if instead, I would be interested in converting his father’s audio cassettes into CDs. I decided to take the plunge,” narrates Ghosh. Today the electrical engineer has restored over 1,000 LPs and 1,500 audio cassettes in English and several Indian languages. He also receives bulk orders from customers in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata.

So how does he do the conversion? “First I listen to the LP or the cassette. Once its playing time is over, it takes me 15-20 minutes to remaster it and another 20 minutes to restore it. In a day, I work on six to seven LPs and four to five audio cassettes. As for the cover design, it holds a nostalgic value for the customer, so I scan it from the original LP or cassette. If the original is in bad shape, then I look up on the web and scan it.” He has also helped scores of people who want to retain a bit of their past, a few memories. It’s not unusual for him to get requests to digitise a cassette which has recordings of dinner table conversations from a bygone era or songs sung at someone’s wedding many years ago.

Ghosh plans to work with the All India Radio, archiving bodies like the Vishwa Bharati in Kolkata and music schools to keep the legacy of classical and western music alive. He also wants to tie up with music companies. “I firmly believe that if we want to restore the musical heritage of our country, then we should build a good archives base. A strong music archive will be a boon for all music lovers,” he signs off.

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