Did you know that the legendary film director Satyajit Ray,was a great whistler? Or for that matter, Pankaj Kumar Mullick was prevented from performing a show in the city because whistling was associated with unsavoury catcalls?
Veteran journalist Tarun Goswami paid tribute to some of India’s greatest music composers through singing whistling at a rare solo show at Uttam Mancha onThursday evening.
Titled Baaje Go Bina - A Tribute to 24 Indian Music Composers, Goswami’s show focused on some of the country’s biggest composers, like Rabindranath Tagore, D L Roy, V Balsara, Salil Chowdhury, Sudhin Dasgupta, Nachiketa Ghosh besides Bollywood composers like Shankar-Jaikishan, O P Nayyar, S D Burman, R D Burman and Bappi Lahiri, who have entertained generations through their ageless melodies.
Goswami said, “Singing whistling is one of the toughest forms of music where the whistler has to maintain the scale and musical score and has to perform along with several other instruments”. Goswami, who trained in whistling from the legendary Salil Chowdhury, has already cut four CDs.
Goswami performed songs like Baaje Go Bina (Salil Chowdhury), Phoolon Ki Rang Se (S D Burman), Pyar Diwana Hota Hai (R D Burman), Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Shankar-Jaikishan), Gori Tera Gaon Bara Pyara (Ravindra Jain), Surjo Dobar Pala (Nachiketa Ghosh), Hoyto Tomari Jonyo (Sudhin Dasgupta), Chalte Chalte Mere Yeh Geet ( Bappi Lahiri) with finesse and was accompanied by a seven member orchestra using instruments like the tabla, the mandolin, the piano accordion.
Goswami, a fellow of the American School of Whistling, is a trained whistler who has been performing since 2004. “Salil Chowdhury, V Balsara are my inspiration. Salilda once told me if a song can be rendered then the same can be articulate on whistling. It needs a lot of hard work. Performing a song in a live concert and whistling the same song are not the same thing,” said Goswami.
Whistling arrived in India in the 19th Century. In fact, when Swami Vivekananda visited the US in 1894, he was known as the “whistling monk”.
In the past, whistling was used for communication in the Army. It was also used in Western countries to the accompaniment of tap-dancing.
In Madrid University whistling is taught as one of the subjects of music.
“But whistling an entire song while maintaining scale is a tough job. I have to use my teeth as one uses the reeds of a harmonium,” he explained.
However, there are pluses. Singing whistling has tremendous potential among school children since it is a rare art and also helps to overcome diseases related to the respiratory tract.