Eighty one-year-old sitarist Pt Manilal Nag became one of recipients of the Padma Shri on Saturday. Nag is the first musician from the Bishnupur gharana to have been conferred this award.
Reacting to the news, the sitarist said, “Some five years ago, I was told that I have been nominated for Padma Shri. Since then, there has been a long silence. I was naturally very happy when the news broke today.” Calling it a milestone for the Bishnupur gharana, he added, “This is a recognition for the 400-year-old classical and dhrupad tradition of Bengal that dominated the country’s music scenario in the first half of the last century. It is a matter of pride that Tagore had his tutelage under the gurus of Bishnupur.” He also added that the Padma Shri is an “acknowledgment” of the “vast scholarship of the gurus” including that of his father, Sangeetacharya Gokul Nag. “I have disciples all over the world. I love to share my joy with all of them while my family feels proud that a long awaited reward is finally here,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, his daughter, sitarist Mita Nag, was happy with recognition. Remembering how her father began his career at the age of 14, she said, “He has been playing in All India Radio for five decades and has played with almost all the renowned tabla players of his time. That includes Pt Anokhelal, Pt Shamta Prasad, Pt Kishan Maharaj, Pt Kanai Dutta, Pt Mahapurush Mishra, among others. Contemporary players have played with him at concerts. Many of them have also done their riyaaz at his Baghbazar residence while he played along with them. He has over 5000 disciples across the world.” However, she added that the award was “long overdue”. “It gives me immense pleasure when I think that my father had carved a niche for himself when the world of sitar was dominated by three titans – Pt Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pt Nikhil Banerjee. Baba is a little junior to all three of them. As a daughter and his disciple, I think this award is long overdue,” she signed off.
Source: Times of India