Vol. 5 Num 954 Mon. February 05, 2007  

Ustad Sunil Kumar Dhar
Fostering the tradition of classical music

Ustad Sunil Kumar Dhar, 74, is a classical music exponent living in greater Mymensingh. For his contribution to classical music over the last 60 years, Dhar was accorded a reception recently by Mymensingh Ramakrishna Ashram, marking the 145th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at its auditorium.

A discussion was held with Swami Sarbeswara Nanda, principal of local Ramakrishna Ashram in the chair. "Sunil Dhar has reached a reputable position through his devotion to classical music," was the consensus of the speakers.

Born on Chaitra 14, in the Bengali year 1340 (1933) at the village Tarati in Muktagacha upazila, the son of late Dr Akshya Kumar Dhar and Surashibala Dhar, Dhar started taking music lessons at the age of six. "I started training under my uncle late Kumud Kumar Dhar," said Dhar.

After matriculation he immersed himself in learning music and settled in Mymensingh town in 1962.

Later Dhar trained under late Bijoy Krishna Bhattacharya, a noted classical musician in the region. He also took taalim (lessons) in Thumri from Ustad Bipin Das, a prominent classical artiste and sitar player. He also had the opportunity to train under classical maestro Ustad Alauddin Khan when he visited the palace of Muktagacha zamindars in 1952. Dhar enriched his classical performances under the tutelage of Jagadananda Barua on Dhrupad and Dhamar. Jagadananda was one of the pioneers of Bangladesh Dhruba Parishad.

Dhar was given the Sangeet Bhashkar title by Druba Parishad and a gold medal from Pakistan Art Council in 1958. He was a regular artiste of Bangladesh Betar from 1959 to 1965.

Founder principal of the local Nazrul Academy since 1966 and president of Dhruba Parishad Mymensingh unit, Dhar was also associated with a variety of cultural organisations such as local Shilpakala Academy and Muktagacha Sangeet Vidyalaya, among others.

Dhar has also groomed several notable music talents such as Parveen Sultana of India, and has performed with eminent artistes from both Bangladesh and India, including Abbas Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Alim, Sohrab Hossain, Khadem Hossain Khan, Mir Kashem Khan, and more.

Commenting on the current state of classical music in the country, Dhar grieves: "We have failed to create a sizeable audience for classical music."

Ustad Sunil Kumar Dhar with his surmandal