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Away from commercial noise

chandigarh Updated: Mar 07, 2013 09:41 IST
Navleen Lakhi
Navleen Lakhi
Hindustan Times
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His eyes play hide seek with the camera. And, veteran theatre music director Kajal Ghosh doesn’t hesitate in telling our lensman, “I’m not friends with the camera”. But the man’s friendship with music is unparalleled. He admits with a smile, “Music demands constant attention from you; else it gets upset with you.”

In city for the staging of Asif Ali’s play Palayan, Ghosh recalls his last visit – more than three decades back – to the city. “I came here in the 1970s for a play called Bakri, which was a political satire, staged at Panjab University. In the 70s itself, I came again with two plays by Sheila Bhatia at Tagore Theatre.”

Having done more than 250 musical plays till now, the journey started in his college days in Delhi University. Ghosh says, “I left the second year of economics honours to get admitted to music honours. That was the time when radio and TV plays were initiated and also the time when I worked with NSD repertory with Sheila Bhatia. Nothing was pre-decided in my case, things kept unfolding. In 1982, along with famous Indian theatre director and playwright, Shanta Gandhi, I became a part of Indian musical festival and went to places such as London, Poland etc.”

Besides theatre, his musical connection with TV is quite strong. He says, “I must have composed music for 200 tele-serials so far. Be it Nadira Babbar’s Titliya in 1990, Sigma or Lekh Tandon’s Phir Wahi Talaash.”

However, Ghosh is known for his and protest songs. “Who will believe me if I say that I deliberately did not do Bollywood music? Frankly, I was not interested in composing songs for hero-heroine running around trees. My conviction was in social commitment and raising voice against injustices through the protest songs. Neither my parents, who were both in politics, were interested that I should do commercial work nor I wanted to do it myself.”

Some of the documentaries that he has given music for are based on issues such as militancy, sati et al. “I’ll be wrong in saying that I earned handsomely by making music for such projects. But they still remain my preference. The revolutionary song albums (four in all, including Aman Ke Hum Sab Rakhwale and Surat Badalni Chahiye) didn’t have commercial release.” Then, how did his songs reach out? “If 500 people came to watch a play, my songs found their way out to others via those 500. Word of mouth plays a strong role. Nowadays you have mediums such as internet.”

As he signs off, he doesn’t forget to mention: “The current play that brought me to this city is by a director who could have easily taken a grant from the government and done a play with a few trained actors. But, he consciously picked raw talent — some of them will step on the stage for the first time — and taught them the basics of theatre. If such people won’t take risks, who will?”