a rare collection of  alaaps from Agra gharana

The Dark Side Of Heaven

Moni Babu was a very simple man in many ways. In spite of  the constant  interaction with the western world that his job   required of him , he remained ,till his death , a  simple  small town man . His child like qualities came to the fore when he was with children , something he really enjoyed . Beneath a strong wrestler's  body and an apparently tough exterior  was an extremely sensitive mind . 

    His desperation to live a life in music took him through many humiliating experiences ,which affected him badly. On the other hand, his inability to fall in line with the requirements of the establishment ensured that he never got his due. Though he kept miles away from such things, every time an attempt was made by his well-wishers to earn him some recognition, it was met with almost inhuman  resistance. We bring here a few of these  incidences and pray that  no one ever again has to face such frustrating and humiliating experiences.

          Through a common acquaintance, he approached one of Bengal’s post–independence stalwarts. After listening to him, the stalwart asked him to come back the next day with a note book so that he could take down some basic practice notations to start from scratch at par with his other students.

In 1973, on insistence of some of his friends and family members, he applied for an audition in All India Radio. Needless to say, he was rejected in the preliminary stage itself. Though he never expressed anything to even his family members, the fact that the rejection letter was the only paper he had carefully retained, shows how much the incident had hurt him.

These two instances hurt him deeply and, for quite sometime after that, he would not entertain any talk of public performance. Finally, towards the end of  1974, his friends booked a hall and made all arrangements for a public performance without telling him anything. They were convinced that once he gave a public performance, recognition would automatically come. He had no option but to agree.

Things were going as planned. Then, just a few days before the programme, the same acquaintance mentioned before suddenly called on him. It’s nice that you have decided to give a public performance. But, in today’s world who will appreciate your style of music? Besides, you are never going to become a professional, why do you get into all this trouble ?

The message was loud and clear. Moni Babu decided not to sing, You need not worry. I will not sing  in public. That was the end of the effort. He never again agreed to any plans  for a  public performance.