What's Calcutta Club owner's other muse?

Tapan Roychowdhury, owner of Mumbai's popular Bengali restaurant Calcutta Club, takes the mic for an audience next week

It is said there is no age to follow your heart. Tapan Roychowdhury, the owner of the city's popular Bengali restaurant, Calcutta Club, would agree as he takes the stage at Mithibai College, Vile Parle, on January 23 to sing ghazals immortalised by Mehdi Hasan. After a career spanning over three decades in the corporate world, Roychowdhury, now 68, followed his calling to open a Bengali restaurant in the city. “There were not many Bengali restaurants in Mumbai till about a decade ago. The idea was to serve a spread we would serve guests at home. It clicked,” recalls Roychowdhury.

Tapan Roychowdhury singing at a mehfil
Tapan Roychowdhury singing at a mehfil

But it was some years later that he decided to give music, a passion he grew up with, a chance too. “I was born in an environment of music. My uncle was a disciple of late Ustad Aamir Khan while my aunt Geeta Dutt (the legendary singer and actor) created an aura of music all around us. But I could never devote the kind of time semi-classical (ghazals) music requires with my busy schedule,” Roychowdhury adds.

Tapan Roychowdhury (left) with Bengali actor Parambrata Chatterjee who featured in Kahani at Calcutta Club
Tapan Roychowdhury (left) with Bengali actor Parambrata Chatterjee who featured in Kahani at Calcutta Club

But some four years ago? he decided that he must give this passion a serious chance and started practising whenever he found time in between running his restaurant. Tapan learnt singing for several years from Gautam Mukherjee, a renowned classical singer and a famous trainer in voice culture in Bollywood.

“Eventually, I started performing in small mehfils (gatherings) in Santacruz and Bandra. I avoid performing at open events or events which have a mix of performers from Bollywood. In these events, people hardly listen to ghazals. The kind of ghazal I sing needs a smaller audience to make it an enjoyable experience.” A devoted fan of Mehdi Hassan, Roychowdhury mostly sings Hassan's songs but he sometimes also sings Mohammed Rafi and Manna De numbers.

Roychowdhury reminisces about her aunt and Guru Dutt fondly. “I had seen my aunt perform and spend long hours rehearsing. Even the rest of my family was immersed in the classical gharanas of music. I was close to Guru Dutt too. In fact, he had a plan to feature me in one his films but he passed away before this could be taken forward,” he said. Perhaps a foray into acting, too, would not be out of bounds for this spirited young man of 68.

On: January 23, 6pm
At: Mithibai College, Vile Parle(W).
Call: 9892710392

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