Saturday, 11 February 2017

Music Diaries: Gaurab Chatterjee

Last week I had promised you that there’s a surprise in store for you. Even though I was sceptical on how would you react to it, I was glad to get messages asking me about the surprise. So, here it is. As promised. Now, as Bengalis we all have grown up with Moheener Ghoraguli. During our teenage, we had become fans of Gaurab Chatterjee or Gabu da as we know him as. The son of Moheen frontman Gautam Chattopadhyay, Gabu da needs no introduction. He has risen to be a number one star even though he is a drummer. The founder of Lakkhichara, another band that has seen us through a lot. Need I tell you that my happiness knew no bounds when he agreed for this interview?

This interview would surely be one of the most treasured ones I have had of the man I idolize and I am sure every musician does. Having had a long conversation with him, I became a fan of Gabu da all over again. Through this, I have tried bringing out Gabu da the way he hasn’t been brought out before. We talked about music and drums. We talked about life growing up with Moheen. A brilliant inspiration, a musician, a vocalist- here’s Gaurab Chatterjee unplugged for you...

You belong to a family of musicians. You have grown up seeing musicians around you and it was a given that you’ll turn up to be a musician. But going back to the basics, as a child, do you remember what was the first ever tune that you learnt to play or the first ever tune that caught your attention?

Gaurab Chatterjee— I was exposed to so much music from the time I was born, it is difficult to say which was the first tune that I played or the one which caught my attention. Then I know for a fact that when I was born the first song that I had heard was “Doriyay Ailo Tufan”. My father had just finished composing, writing and recording the song for his film “ Nagmoti” at that point of time. He had played that recording to me.

Talking about that, there are so many instruments to be played and you could have easily chosen any one of them but you didn’t. So, why did you choose the drums? What connected you to it?

Gaurab Chatterjee— When I was around three and a half my father had given me my first drum kit. I guess I fell in love with the instrument from then. There was a point of time when I was learning classical guitar and had stopped playing the drums. I longed to get back to playing drums again and that happened after my class 10 board exams.

Now that we are on the topic, having seen you play with such passion and poise, I have always wondered something. This seems like the best time to ask that. What do drums mean to you? How would you define the drum?

Gaurab Chatterjee— It has always been a medium of expressing myself.

You, as a musician and arranger, have been associated with a lot of bands, independent projects and so on. Every single band or project has their own special characteristic. So, how do you, as a musician, contribute to each one of them when you have rehearsals for them back to back, keeping their individuality intact?

Gaurab Chatterjee— That for me is the thrill. I always like expanding my horizon as a musician, so playing in different kinds of projects help me do that. I always try and contribute in a way which best suits that particular project. When I’m playing for Lakkhichhara and then I go to a Kendraka rehearsal, the way I play changes a lot.  My role also changes.

Being associated to the music industry from the time you can hardly remember to now, you have visited a lot of places, played with a lot of people. So, what is the basic difference between the music scenario in India and abroad?

Gaurab Chatterjee— Each place has its own individual characteristic but then I feel things are very similar as well. I think the major difference lies in the Socio Cultural background which in turn affects the music or the approach to music.

You know, whenever I think about a musician who is widely famous and well known; who everybody knows at the drop of a hat, the only name that comes in my mind is you. From being Gautam Chattopadhyay’s son to Gaurab Chattopadhyay. A lot of responsibilities lay on your shoulder. How did you cope up with them and how has your journey been?

Gaurab Chatterjee— I never took that pressure. My father was genius, I am not. I do my best and I try and improve and expand every day. That is what I have been doing and will continue doing.

Of course, a chat with you is incomplete without the mention of Moheener Ghoraguli. I’ll not ask you what Moheener Ghoraguli means to you. I’ll not ask you how it shaped you up as a musician. I’ll ask you, how would you define Moheener Ghoraguli? Given the fact that it is also known as the pioneers of Bangla folk rock or Bangla rock, if you have to define them- how would you do so?

Gaurab Chatterjee—When my father formed Mohiner Ghoraguli in the 70’s it was much more than just Rock Music, their song writing, composition, arrangement everything was different from whatever was happening back then, They had successfully fused western and our own folk elements which sounded very natural and organic. The way they performed their stage design everything was unique. It was a path breaking band. Also when my father released the Mohiner Ghoraguli Sampadito albums with new musician’s artists in the 90’s they had a major impact as well. It was a movement which had the same spirit that the band had in the 70’s and these albums were absolutely “Indie” to start with where they were only sold in the Book fair and then ended up becoming legendary albums. My Father was a visionary and a very progressive human being.

Having played with bands, to owning a band and now arranging and composing for movies. Music has always been your first love. What is the major difference between playing with a band and playing for a film?

Gaurab Chatterjee— When it comes to the band my role is that of a composer and a drummer where there are 6 of us and we work together share our ideas and come up with the music and essentially play and sing ourselves. With films the Music in dependent on the way the film is. One has to do justice to the film more than anything else. The canvas is also much wider it’s not limited to the structure of a band.

You, as we all know are devoted towards music. You have given music all that you have and continue to do so. You have inspired a lot of young and upcoming musicians to even take up music in the first place. But what many people do not know is, what do you like to listen to? What music do you relate to the most and what do you like to play?

Gaurab Chatterjee— I like a lot of different kinds of music whether it’s Baul or rock or metal or jazz or classical, but then I have started off with a rock band so that somehow stays with me no matter what I play.

What is rock? I know this is a very bad question but we also have to agree to the fact that an audience who doesn’t have much knowledge about music confuses between rock and other genres of music. To them, if you have to explain rock music, how would you do so?

Gaurab Chatterjee— I think to know what rock is one must study how it has evolved, how it started off from blues and other forms how it was a major form of protest in the 60’s  and 70’s  . To know a form one must study it.

Since we are talking about music, I would really want to know what your upcoming projects are. What are you working on now?

Gaurab Chatterjee— Lakkhichhara will be releasing some new songs very soon so we are kind of working on them now, I am a part of two indo Australian projects called “The Three Seas” and “Hatchlings”. There are some shows that will happen later in the year with them. Kendraka has plans of a few tours in and outside the country plus I am playing with Pandit Tanmoy Bose’s Taaltantra. Apart from live music there are some films in the pipeline in which I will work as the music composer.

   You have collaborated with a lot of people and bands, what has been the most memorable experience till date? And, who, among the musicians of today’s time would you love to collaborate with?

Gaurab Chatterjee— Too many of them. I love all the projects that I am working in.  Essentially  I really like it when I get to learn something from these collaborations so I prefer working with people who are superior to me in some way so that I get to learn from them.

Finally, what would you like to advice to the upcoming musicians who idolize you and want to become like you and work for the music industry?

Gaurab Chatterjee— Keep practicing, keep an open mind when it comes to music and most importantly keep the faith.

Vanya- Thank you, for being a part of this endeavour. I hope I didn’t bore you with my questions. Gabu da- Wishing you a super great future ahead. Keep rocking.

I know one thing for sure that I can read your mind after reading this. Music and musicians sound so familiar now. My endeavour is getting a lot of love. Much more than I ever expected and with Gabu da’s wishes and on promise day, I promise to give all you guys all that I have. All you got to do is promise me one thing. That you would be by my side through my endeavour- to promote music, to promote musicians.

Do you wanna know more about musicians and music? Are you a musician or a music enthusiast and would want to discuss it with me? Do you wanna be featured here? Send me a mail at –

Before signing off, as I always say... Let our soul be musical! 


  1. Excellent! Extremely well articulated. Do not tag any past tense with "Mohiner Ghoraguli". It will remain live always.. All the best Gabu!

  2. A Great Piece of Interview ! I am myself a Student and a great fan of Gaboo da and Lakkhichhara ! I learnt a lot about him through this interview ! thank you so much and the questions were great & unique too !