Talk of the flute and you'll think of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
However, there are other exponents of this woodwind instrument in India too whom we often miss out. And Pt Ronu Majumdar is one of them. His work in fusion is celebrated and the acclaimed flautist has been active in propagating Hindustani music not only in India but also abroad. Currently on a tour in Canada, Majumdar will be performing at the Chicago Symphony in July. He speaks to CS about his take on music:
Who: Pt Ronu Majumdar
What: On musical lessons
The creative angle
Music means everything to me. I don’t have words to describe it. It’s like a lifeline. All types of music inspire me to compose new tunes. I do not limit my mind. It is the barriers in one’s mind that suppress creativity; I get my inspiration from everything that surrounds me. My father (Dr Bhanu Majumdar) himself played the flute very well but he was a doctor and a painter by profession. My liking of this particular musical instrument happened thanks to him.
Playing with the master
I was a part of Pt Ravi Shankar’s orchestra from 1980 till 1997. This period was when I cut my teeth on the flute. I not only learnt several ragas, but also the work ethics. Early morning practice was something Panditji really stressed on. He perfected our technique and at the same time he taught us newbies to enjoy music too so that it didn’t feel like work. With him, I realised the importance of sincerity. Panditji was always very sincere and true on stage.
Same act, different crowd
I think the basic difference between the western and the Indian audiences is that the former do not react so much in the middle of the recital and the applause happens only at the end of the show. Our desi folks love to express their appreciation during the performance itself by going waah waah. As long as the crowd is enjoying the show, I’m okay with both the reactions.
It’s very wrong of airlines to charge us extra for carrying our musical instruments. Besides, we classical artists already work on a low budget. More often than not, even the organisers can’t afford the flight tickets, so we have to pay from our own pocket. Rather than being supportive, airlines exploit us with unnecessary burdens. No wonder spreading classical music in the world is a daunting task.
In my free time, I explore all forms of music but my favourites are RD Burman, Charlie Parkar, my guru Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao and many classical legends of that era. I also listen to Jazz, Pop and of course Bollywood songs.