Gautam Sengupta’s ‘Project Anukriti’ aims to take Carnatic compositions beyond the South
While taking a stroll one day on the streets of Kolkata last year, Gautam Sengupta heard something that made him stop. It was a beautiful song being played in one of the houses.
“I felt like time had stood still,” recalls the 70-year-old retired professor of linguistics over a phone call. “I did not move from there till the song ended.”
When he got back home, Gautam immediately switched on his computer and discovered that it was young singer Uthara Unnikrishnan’s rendition of the Annamayya kriti, ‘Bhavayami Gopalabalam’.
That was Gautam’s introduction to Carnatic music. He soon dived deep to discover the genre’s many aspects. Today, he spearheads Project Anukriti, probably the first ever attempt to translate Carnatic compositions into Hindi with the hope of reaching out to a larger audience beyond the southern States. The first composition, released recently on Unnikrishnan’s YouTube channel, features Uthara and Karthick Iyer singing the translated version of the iconic Purandaradasa Kannada composition ‘Jagadoddharana’.
“I had spent three decades in Hyderabad but cannot recall listening to a single Carnatic kriti. I feel music should be freed of the language barrier for a wider appeal.”
Gautam alongwith a few like-minded people chooses compositions that lend themselves to translation and works on them. “We break the words into small meaningful units, and then sit down with musicians and people who speak the language the composition is in. It was also important to involve singers since the idea is to be able to sing them in their original tune,” he says.
Project Anukriti is just one song old, but the initiative has drawn flak from some listeners in the South. “We know it’s hard to match up to the original but we only want more people to enjoy these traditional compositions.”
With Uthara and Karthick on board, Gautam hopes to release one song every month. Coming up next are ‘Marugelara O Raghava’ and ‘Krishna Nee Begane’. “A year ago, I did not imagine that I would stumble upon such a treasure. I am delighted to have found it,” says Gautam.
Watch the series here: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=IFyXzl2cOi4