Pundit Ramkanai Das is one of the renowned classical music artistes of Bangladesh. However, being a true music maestro, he is also equally proficient in traditional music and Tagore songs. In an interview with New Age the musical genius shared his thoughts on both genres of music and information about his current activities.
‘There are only two differences between classical and folk. Firstly, classical was created in palaces while folk happened in the rural environment. And secondly, classical music is rigid while folk music is soft and flexible. However, the basic elements of the two genres are the same, as they are derived from the same roots and bear the same melodic vocabulary,’ observed Ramkanai. ‘I am comfortable singing both styles’ he added.
‘However, folk music nowadays is loosing its originality due to the aggression of Western musical forms and instruments,’ said Ramkanai, with a hint of disappointment. Nonetheless, he still possesses a very considerate view of modern music. ‘Change is a natural law and we have to accept it. But I believe the core of our traditional music will always be the same’, Ramkanai hoped. He says, ‘For example, there are many dresses we see today, but the Punjabi and the Saree are still not lost.’
Besides practicing music, Ramkanai is also busy with his music school. ‘I have a music school named Sangeet Parisad, which has two branches—one in Sylhet and another in New York, where I will teach children the primary lessons of music,’ revealed Ramkanai.
The artiste also continues recording new albums. ‘I am trying to collect and preserve some old yet undiscovered folk music of Bangladesh. On my recent musical album Oshomoye Dhorlam Pari, I tried to bring out some such folk songs, by bards like Radharamon Dutta and Shitalong Fakir, presenting them in their original form,’ said the music expert.
The life of Ramkanai Das is as interesting as his music. He was born in 1935 at Shalla Thana in Sunamganj district. His father Rashiklal Das was also a remarkable folk musician. Ramkanai received classical music training from Kalimohan Chakrabarty and tabla training from Sri Shurendramohan Sutradhar. However, as he was determined to become a full-fledged vocal artiste, he chose to give up playing tabla and obtained intense classical vocal training for twelve years under the guidance of Pandit Umesh Chandra Roy from Brahmanbaria.
For his contributions to music, Ramkanai Das has received Rabindra Padak, Ustad Mozammel Hussain Smrity Podok, Urboshi Podok and Channel-I Music Award.
-With New Age input