I don’t know which particular area the judges evaluated or looked into. May be they have made a global evaluation of my work in modern Indian music in Bengali and other Indian languages.
My fourth feeling is - will I be able to carry the heavy burden of this award named after the late and respected Allauddin Khan given to me by the West Bengal Govt ? In the past I had received several awards, mostly commercial which have given me some happiness but never made me nervous. They did not create a sense of responsibility just after the award. So, this award is not just for what I have given so far but also for what I have not been able to give yet.This is why in one hand I am overwhelmed and in the other hand I am nervous and feel indebted. It reminds me of a few lines of one of my songs :
“I just could not understand
Why I did not lose
Carrying the heavy burden
of the garland of my victory”
While analysing all this I suddenly had my fifth sense - just because the West Bengal Govt gave me, Salil Chowdhury, this award, they really recognised and accepted the importance of contemporary Indian music and my contribution to highlight that. Contemporary Indian music wasn’t born yesterday. For the last one and half century just like the development of our national, political and social consciousness and various other art forms, our music has also gone thru many changes and influences to give birth to contemporary modern Indian music. In fact one can see this influence in our more traditional classical or folk music. Music is not really something from outer space or devoid of any social responsibility. The contemporary music has been continually evolving by absorbing all our past cultural heritage and the new ideas and fulfilling its modern social responsibilities.Just like the contemporary Indian people the modern music is colourful and complex. It can become very rich, beautiful and expressive. It can also become unique by being democratic
and secular. Only then it can express the multicultural and the democratic modern India.
Although that has been happening for some time, its progress has been often weakened due to blatant commercialism and decadence. Still, the contemporary Indian music which has inherited and absorbed the original Indian culture will survive and keep on enriching our musical heritage.
Q: Usually such awards are given to quite senior artists reaching retirement age who have always been very creative and talented all their life. You are clearly an exception.
What are your thoughts ?
A: I agree that in our country Govt awards are often compared with the offering a sumptuous dinner to the Vedic Brahmin (Priest) as a departing gift after the funeral. Although it smells more like the funeral than respect. However,it is also correct to say that it is better late than