A Passion For Singing, And Passionate About Conserving Gramophone Records
- Pallavi Priya
- Published on 6 Jan 2023, 9:36 am IST
- 4 minutes read
- Rashmita Jha, a 1997-batch IRS officer, is a trained Kathak dancer and a Hindustani Classical singer.
- With her husband, she has started a channel that brings old gramophone records in front of the public.
- She is presently serving as an Income Tax Commissioner in Delhi.
- Rashmita Jha, IRS Officer
Before the advent of earpodes, speakers, and AI devices, the only way to listen to or record music was RPM records that could be manually played on gramophones. In today’s world of cutting edge technology, many of those records, that are a reflection of our cultural and historical heritage, has almost become extinct.
However, there is an IRS officer, who is a trained Kathak dancer and a Hindustani Classical singer, who is trying to revive those records and take us on a journey of exploring our history through those old immortal tunes.
She is 1997 batch IRS officer Rashmita Jha, who is presently serving as an Income Tax Commissioner in Delhi. In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Jha talked about her passion for classical music and her novel initiative to conserve the old RPM records through her YouTube channel.
INTRODUCED TO SINGING AND DANCE AT AN EARLY AGE
Ms. Jha hails from Bihar and has been inclined towards dance and music from a very young age. She started training for Kathak at the age of 8 years and when she turned 11, she also got enrolled in Hindustani Classical music classes.
Besides graduating from Patna university, she is also a graduate in Kathak and Hindustani Classical music from institutes that were affiliated to Prayag Sangit Samiti, Prayagraj and Prachin Kala Kendra, Chandigarh.
While she is still continuing her riyaj (practice) in classical music and have also learned the sitar, she had to leave kathak. Explaining why, she said, “It was about four decades ago that I learned all this. My family members were supportive, but we were still a very traditional family. My father didn’t want me to do stage performances, so I left Kathak after my high school. I used to do solo performances till then, but I got separated from it from thereon.”
INHERITED IT FROM HER MOTHER
When asked about the inspiration behind her classical journey, she said, “Nobody was trained in my family, but, yes, my mother used to sing a lot of bhajans and other songs. She had a beautiful voice. I think, maybe, I got it from her only. My family was not very keen to send me to those classes as they were far away, but I was adamant, and so they had to let me go.”
Even now, after taking care of her family and dealing with her hectic schedules, she dedicates whatever free time she is left with to singing and sitar. Once, she did a sitar performance on stage. But, mostly, she only sings in official gatherings.
Other than this, she also goes forward to help other artists by hosting them and providing them with economic help in whatever way possible. During her training course for Revenue Service also, she performed in many programmes held at the campus.
She named Pandit Jasraj, BhimSen Joshi and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan as some of her favourite singers who she can hear at all times. And, as for music, classical ragas are her all-time favourite.
GUNIJANKHANA HINDUSTANI MUSIC
On the singing front, she and her husband have a channel named GUNIJANKHANA on YouTube. It is all about old RPM records for gramophones. Talking about it, she said, “My husband had collected several RPM records. We found out that those records cover several topics and areas. While we have many sources to know our history like books, monuments, etc., we felt that these records could also act as a supplementary source to know our history. So, we started this channel.”
Firstly, they did 75 episodes under the title ‘Aazadinama’, where they played and talked about records that were about freedom movement and included songs, plays, speeches on it. The first episode was about Indu Bala who had, at that time, recorded songs to encourage the people to take part in the movement.
In the next series ‘Bhajannama’, they have come up with spiritual songs that were recorded for gramophones between 1902 to 1960s. Ms. Jha said that this series would help people to get acquainted with and listen to some familiar and some not-so-familiar Bhakti songs.
END OF THE ARTICLE
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