Debanjan Bhattacharjee: Engineering student-turned-sarod maestro

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

As a youngster, Sarod player Debanjan Bhattacharjee was both a good student and a good musician. Yet everyone arrives at the crossroads in their life and chooses a path. This is the story of that point in Debanjan’s life.

Featured Image Credits- Calcutta Club

Debanjan wears glasses, loves music and art, and was quite an intelligent student at school. And if all this isn’t Bengali enough, Deb also wanted to be an engineer. But clearly this wasn't the path he chose.

Now, Debanjan Bhattacharjee is one of the youngest, most exciting sarod players in the country.

Debanjan picked up the Sarod at a young age but didn’t have any professional hopes from it, for he wanted to focus on studies too.

At the age of 5, he undertook training under Ustad Dhyanesh Khan. But the Ustad passed away a few months later leaving Deb dismayed. However one of the biggest moments in his life came when the Ustad’s brother, Ustad Aashish Khan took him on as his 'Ganda Bandha" at the age of 7. While kids of his age focused on relaxing as much as they can, Deb tried to learn as much as he could. He began gaining extra knowledge about the sarod through music workshops by the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

However in the midst of all the music, Deb never turned a blind eye to his academics. As a student, he was very much into science and went on to pursue an electronics and telecommunications engineering in college. Naturally, sarod notes began to be replaced by more and more books.

Deb soon got a job offer from Infosys during his college years itself. The company was reputed and the stipend was great. In a cliched Bollywood-like setting, his parents would have also nudged Deb into picking up a high paying engineering job but they gave him the liberty to make his own choices.

This was a turning point in Debanjan Bhattacharjee’s life as he now realised playing the sarod was no hobby, it was his passion. "I decided to do a master's instead," he said. "Taking up the job would have meant the end of my music." Ustad Dhyanesh Khan might have smiled from the heavens when Deb made this choice.

Naturally, during the Master’s degree days, Deb, the student had undergone a complete transformation to be Deb, the musician. From the age of 25 itself, Debanjan emerged as a major artist in sarod concerts in Kolkata (and later abroad) along with winning a prestigious competition held by All India Radio.

He and his sarod know no stopping now. He’s already being called the new face of the sarod for the Maihar gharana. Debanjan has become a no-nonsense artist who doesn’t market himself and relies purely on following the classical path.

Looking back at his student years, he feels the burden of being a good student arose from the fact that music had a sense of uncertainty as a career option. In college, he learnt to overcome his fears and made the right choice.

There have been great artists who gave up their academic studies and even ran away from home in their pursuit to hone their craft. While some parents may cite them as inspirations for children, they are also apprehensive about the child’s future. What if the child doesn’t succeed? What if the child doesn’t get their ‘A Star is Born’ moment?

Given the context of modern day parenting, Debanjan serves as an inspiring figure as he demonstrates how to be smart in the music world. If his music career hadn't taken off the way it did, his education would have definitely been a good backup to earning a comfortable living.

Finally, it was Debanjan’s skill and hard work that gave him enough confidence to make it as a young sarod maestro.

‘At a stage of life, there was uncertainty in picking up music, no doubt, but I felt uncertainty was better than repentance.’

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Shaurya Singh Thapa