Arun Gangopadhyay is the last youngest disciple of late legendary singer Debabrata Biswas. When the singer passed away, Arun Gangopadhyay was only 17. He talks with our SocialPost Correspondent and discusses various aspects of the singing lessons under the tutelage of the legend.
Q. What are your first memories of George Da aka Debabrata Biswas.
I was barely 18 at that time. We lived near Kalighat and his house wasn’t too far. Coming from a lower middle Bengali family, I was not being able to pay his fees.
The singing lessons were articulate and I believe, comparing the organizations today, no budding singer will ever get such lessons, giving such emphasis on lyrics.
Q. Was Debabrata Biswas very temperamental while teaching?
Not at all. Rather he was well aware that he is teaching someone who is in his early teens. The funniest part is, he used to call me ‘apni’, in Bengali which is revered by elders.
Q. Do you remember any special anecdote during those lessons?
Overall, as far I remember, I had the luxury to learn from the legend for three years. He always emphasized understanding and honing up the lyrics. He emphasized singing without any accompaniment. I believe, as we were too poor to buy a harmonium or tanpura, he categorically emphasized such.
Q. Have you ever met any big stars at his home?
He never told me to come on the weekend. Thus I never had the opportunity to meet his friends, who were truly stars in their own fields. But one thing I want to say, he never behaved like a star with me.
We never had a fixed day or time. He used to ask me whether I am free on a specific day or not. Our classes were mostly in the afternoon. I still have shivers when I remember his baritone, singing ‘akash bhora surjyo tara’.
Q. Was he able to understand that death is nearby? Did he give you any hint?
Absolutely not I think. First and foremost, he was ill for a long time, not that he was ill for the first time. Secondly, he maintained a distance from me. Once I remember, he told me to copy something which he was dictating. Later after his death, I found it across some publications.
Q. Whenever Debabrata Biswas’s name is uttered, the word legacy comes automatically. What is your take on it?
There is no denying the fact that he had a huge fan following. Now, so many students of Debabrata Biswas are spread all over the world. But there hasn’t been any concrete attempt to bring them together. I personally faced many disruptions and just because I have been his student, I am still facing opposition.
Q. Do you think he was a devotee of Rabindranath Tagore’s songs?
I never had the privilege to talk to him on this matter. Rather I was too young to initiate such. But in my interactions with him, I found him to be a true devotee of Tagore’s songs.
The passion and commitment he brought in his singing are unparallel. That is why he no less a figure than Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and other popular singers of the era. Today’s generation will not understand what he infused in his singing. I am lucky that I have got lessons from the master himself.