The Wednesday Recital
Born and brought up in Lucknow, Rita Ganguly was drawn to music since her childhood. The daughter of freedom fighter and editor of the National Herald, Rita had been a child prodigy revelling in Kathakali and Manipuri at Santiniketan. Early lessons in Dhrupad came from doyen Gopeshwar Bandhyopadhyay. A national scholarship took her to Palghat and Madras for advanced training in Kathakali and Bharatanatyam. She was learning music from the great Siddheshwari Devi in the mid-60s when, one day, Begum Akhtar came and took her under her wings. Rita remained with her till Begum Akhtar`s death in October,1974.
Rita`s rich contribution has been spread over several fields. Trained at the Martha Graham School, New York, she joined the faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi, and set up a pioneering course in mime and movement. In a tenure that spans over 3 decades, she has been an integral part of the National School of Drama having directed numerous productions, designed costumes & scored music. Workshops conducted by her on Indian Classical Theatre in NIDA (Australia), RADA (England), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Israel have been greatly appreciated and much sought after. By doing pioneering work on nautch girls through a Ford Foundation fellowship, she brought about a revival of interest in the practitioners of this art.
Dastan Kehte Kehte, a solo performance profiling the charismatic singer Begum Akhtar first enacted at the theatre festival of the National School of Drama, Delhi, 2002 was her tribute to Begum Akhtar. It is also her homage to the gurus of dance, music and theatre who have influenced her own life, and contributed to world culture through their commitment to truth. She has been the recipient of a slew of awards including the Padmashree and the Sangeet natak Akademi Award.
Here are excerpts from Rita`s performance at our Wednesday Recital on December 15, 2004. She was accompanied by Anando Gopal Bandopadhyay on tabla and Jyoti Goho on harmonium.