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Vishmadev Chattopadhyay
GharanaKhayal - Delhi
Vishmadev Chattopadhyay
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VishmadevChattopadhyay, a prominent name of the musician who carved the musical legacy of Bengal was an extraordinary genius singer. He imprinted the impression of his creativity in almost every field of music and became a legendary figure in his lifetime.
He was born on 8th November 1909 at Sarai village near Pandua station of Hooghly district in West Bengal. He became famous as child prodigy singer at the age of five. His parents were AshutoshChattopadhyay and Prabhabati Devi, the descendant of SadhakGangananda Swami of that Chattopadhyay family of Hooghly district to other branch of which Thakur Ramkrishna belonged. His is the family of spiritual background. Vishmadev was the first one in the family who had taken up music as his life style. He was brought to Kolkata when he was one year old. He was admitted at Sanskrit Collegiate School and appeared at Proveshika examination from Calcutta Training Academy. Thereafter he took admission to Vidyasagar College.

Vishmadev had taken his initial training in music from ShriNagendranathDatta. Later on he was under tutelage of KhalifaBadal Khan of Delhi gharana for fourteen years. At the age of twelve his first record was published from HMV under prestige label with two Tappas of Nidhubabu. He stood first in all the three categories Khyal, Tappa and Thumri two years consecutively in an inter college music competition and was awarded Bestman prize. The marks that he secured enabled the college also to achieve the first rank.
KajiNazrul Islam was an admirer of Vishmadev. At his will Vishmadev joined Megaphone Record Company in the year 1933 as a Music Director cum Trainer. During this year Megaphone published his record on Khyal based on Malkaush and Aasha raga. His name fanned out beyond the border of Bengal. He started receiving invitations from Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Benaras, Delhi, Mathura even from the distant Sikarpur near Karachi of the then undivided India. With this his performance was regularly live-broadcasted from All India Radio. Megaphone Company had released many of his records on Khyal and Thumri based on different ragas. He popularizedRaagpradhan Bengali songs in an innovative way. His Bhajan and Harmonium playing records were also published at that time. In addition, he used to tune in various songs for other singers and even published records on the orchestra music. Records of many dramas on disc were published from Megaphone Record Company of which Vishmadev was the Music director.

Vishmadev joined Film Corporation as a Film Music Director in the year 1937. Here the ace artist had tuned in twelve films. The film named Rikta stirred the mindset of the public for in this film he introduced the mingling of eastern and western tune which is the first such attempt in any Indian film. ShriSachinDevBurman was his assistant in four of these films.

Vishmadev was of religious temperament from his boyhood days. He had no attraction for materialistic world and it became evident when in 1940 he left his fame, money, wife and sons during the peak time to stay at Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. He came to Kolkata once for a short period from the Ashram during 1941 Durgapuja. He spent eight years at Pondicherry and finally returned during 1948 with the broken health.

During the Post Pondicherry period at Kolkata he recorded Khyal,Thumri and Bengali songs published by Megaphone Co. and started singing in the functions. Though he was requested to work in the film line he did not agree to do so. He used to live like a domestic sage.
As a teacher Vishmadev also earned a good reputation. The students who came to him for learning were like RajkumarShyamanand Singh of Banaili Estate, Sachin Mukherjee, S.D Burman (Music Director), Suresh Chakraborty and Film personalities like Kanon Devi, Chhaya Devi, LilyChakraborty. Besides, Begum Akhtar, Uma Bose, Juthika Roy, Prakash Kali Ghoshal, ProtimaBandyopadhyay, Bhabani Das, Himansu Roy, Saila Devi, ChinmoyChattopadhyay and JayantaChattopadhyatook training from him.
His major contribution to Indian Music can be stated as he introduced new genre of Bengali Raagpradhan song and also founded new style of Harmonium playing.

He was honoured with many awards such ashonorary D.Lit. (RabindraBharati University, 1972),conferred title ‘SangeetNayak’ (PrachinKalakendra of Chandigarh in 1976).UNESCO collected a record of his four songs as sample to give idea of Indian Music to westerners. The West Bengal Government made a documentary film covering his life on celluloid in 1975.Kolkata Doordarshan made two documentary films on his life and music-one in 1991 and the other in 2006.Swami Santadas Institute of Culture paid homage with the posthumous award “Swami SantadasSmarakSamman” in the year 2006.
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