----A synergy of Sanskrit Shlokas rendition of songs and music
Come Mahalaya and All India Radio’s heart rendering radio montage “Mahisasuramardini” fills one with nostalgia. A legacy which started with live broadcast and later recorded version, has became an integral part of Durga Puja celebrations. The programme originates from AIR Kolkata and is in Bengali but is broadcast at pan India level.
Mahisasuramardini is the Chandipath that is broadcast on Mahalaya. In the sonorous voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, Sanskrit shlokas along with the Bangla translation. It used to be played on Shasthi (the sixth day of Navaratri) but later on, at the request of the listeners, broadcast was shifted to the first day of Devi Paksha that is on the day of Mahalaya.
The idea of the broadcast with the name 'Basanteswari' was conceived way back in 1932. As reported by Betar Jagat Patika in one of its issues in 1960. As the Patika had reported, in one of the afternoon ‘addas’ of Nipendra Nath Majumder who was then Programme Director, great accomplished writer Premankur Atorthi affectionately called Buroda , Music director Raichand Baral, famous Punjabi singer Pt. Harish Chandra Bali, first Bangla announcer Rajen Sen & Birendra Krishna Bhadra, idea of dawn programme saw its first sign of conceptualization.
Nipendra Nath Majumder instilled a new sense of programming – something that should be rejuvenating and away from the trodden path of the regular programmes. During the course of discussion, from the synergy of such great men, finally Premankur Atorthi flowing in this tide gave an idea for this special programme which was to be broadcast at the break of dawn. Thus the idea saw the dawn of light…
In October, 1936, broadcast of this special 90 minutes dawn programme commenced in the morning. It went on air from 6:00 am to 7:30 am on Sasthi, which also happens to be the first day of Durga Puja for Bengalis.
Finally, in 1937 this special dawn programme was christened "Mahisasuramardini'' and became an indispensable part of All India Radio’s long history and culture. Originally, "Mahisasuramardini'' was broadcast live and the last live broadcast went on air in 1962.
The script for Mahisasuramardini was written by Bani Kumar, Music was composed by Pankaj Kumar Mallick and BASANTESWARI was composed by Shri Raichand Boral. The narration (Stotra Path) was done by Birendra Krishna Bhadra .
Music Artistes were
Tarun Bandopadhyay, Manabendra Mukhopadhyay,
Dwijen Mukhopadhyay, Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, Krishna Dasgupta, Sipra Basu, Bimal Bhushan, Shyamal Mitra, Rabin Bandyopadhyay, Pratima Bandyopadhyay, Ila Basu, Supriti Ghosh,
Arati Mukhopadhyay, Sumitra Sen, Ashima Bhattacharyya,
Dhiren Basu , Arun Krishna Ghosh & Utpala Sen.
Mahisasuramardini was and is unique in many ways and there are many stories connected with its conception. One such unique aspect of this creation was the shlokas, which were in Sanskrit. Our musicians were Urdu speaking Muslims who did not understand Bangla. But the beauty and dedication lie here, such was the devotion of the musicians that they strummed the instruments based on the intonation and rendition of Birendra Krishna’s voice. The genius that Birendra Krishna Bhadra was, the moment he realized about beauty that was being created, he modulated his voice accordingly and the result we all know was mesmerizing.
To bring out a divine feel and effect, a serene ambience used to be created in the studio: incense, flowers were added to bring out the divine aura. And history was being written at very stage...
The invoking of the Goddess Durga through the voice of Birendra Krishna’s songs, shlokas and scintillating music created a programme which generations still remember. They await its broadcast every Mahalaya and this year its no different.
In 1976 in place of Mahisasuramardini, the programme was redone and was called ''DEBING DURGATIHARINIM'', the narration of which was done by the legendary Bengali Film Actor Uttam Kumar and it was first broadcast on 23rd September, 1976. But due to huge criticism from the listeners of the All India Radio, the broadcaster went back to its original version of the programme. And Mahisasuramardini of Birendra Krishna Bhadra resumed its unconditional love and devotion from 1977 onwards. And rest as they say is history…
All India Radio , Kolkata also broadcasts ''DEBING DURGATIHARINIM'' on SASTHI, the first day Durga Puja every year from 5.00 a.m. to 6.00 a.m. for a duration of one hour.
All India Radio follows tradition and it has left an indelible mark in the memories of each Indian whether in India or abroad.
(With inputs from Sutapa Duttagupta, SD, AIR Kolkata and Mousumi Chatterjee, AIR Kolkata compiled by Sunita Sahay, Media Interlocutor, Prasar Bharati)