A tête-à-tête With Pandit Dev Bansraj
"Pandit Dev Bansraj is one of the major vocalists of Indian musical world residing in Canada whose distinct music as a performer and teacher has helped him to nurture a system of performing arts education around the world and has made him ‘Sangeetacharya’."
~Strings N Steps
Q. Can you put into words your own Personality and Persona
It has always been difficult for me to answer questions about myself.
But there are some words that come to mind when I am confronted with this question: humble, passionate, confident, focused, perfectionist. Perhaps I am all those things, but I know I am much more.
Even though I mostly see myself as being somewhat strict, I do have a humourous side as well.
I like to think that my persona is something that projects my dedication to attaining the standards of music which I had set out to achieve so many years ago and which will always keep me occupied in seeking more knowledge so I can remain at the forefront of Indian Music.
Q. You are one of the leading Indian classical musicians in Canada now. Did you program things this way?
Not at all. I believe that whatever has attributed to my position as a leading Classical Musician is mostly due to my humble approach to music. I do not claim to be anything other than an instrument of music. I let the people decide based on the talent that God has blessed me with.
Q. There are many changes occurring in India. Yes, indeed. Parampara, in Sanskrit, means tradition, which undergoes uninterrupted change. In this context, what do you think, where does Indian Classical music stand?
Parampara is a very sacred bond between Guru and Disciple.
I believe that the foundation of the Guru-Disciple relationship should remain and be cherished. It is apparent that the traditional way of learning is becoming overshadowed by less “learned ways”, but I can see that Indian Classical Music can withstand this changing world. In my opinion, in order to maintain and strengthen this tradition, it is very important that those learning from a Guru understand the value of this relationship.
Q. How would you describe your music? According to you which part of your rendition makes you different from others. does your style bear any innovation?
My music is like the air I breathe, It is always around me. If I am not singing it I am thinking it.
I am different in many ways from others, notably for my melodious voice and command of my pitch. In my rendition of Ghazals and Bhajans I apply classical variations (Alaps and Taans) to beautify my performances.
Q. Will you throw light on your Guru's method of teaching? Is it different from yours? If yes-How? If no-why?
My Gurus (the late Pt. Dilip Chander Vedi -Vocal and Pt. Debu Chaudhuri - Sitar) method of teaching for me was very strict yet nurturing. No, there is no difference from my teaching because I have learnt and accomplished so much from both my Gurus, and this is why I apply the same method and impart the same knowledge on my students as a Guru myself.
Q. Do you think that there are separate methods or techniques in vocal music for man and woman?
To my knowledge there is no separate method because they also utilize the same breath techniques.
But, the technique in which the Guru teaches the male and female differs somewhat. Men and women have different pitch levels and sounds differently.
Q. Does your heart still miss a beat before concerts after so many years of experience?
No, it does not and never did.
Q. How do you rate your success?
In the eyes of God, I am where he wants me to be.
Q. There is a popular opinion that the Younger generation isn't much interested in classical music- dance forms. Do you agree? How would you justify your opinion?
I would have to say that I don’t completely agree.
It is apparent that many youngsters would much rather spend their time engaged in other activities, but there is still a significant number of those who respect and want to learn Classical music.
Not to mention, there is a strong lineage of Classical Musicians whose children and grand children that are continuing to follow in their foot-steps.
Q. Can you share your most memorable onstage moment?
The most memorable onstage moment that is etched in my memory is in 2009 when I was awarded the 1st. place winner in an International Classical Singing Competition.
Q. What is your favorite idea of Holidaying? Do you think it is necessary to have leisure-voids while working?
My favorite idea of holidaying is travelling to different countries and visiting their land marks. It is absolutely necessary to have leisure while working so you can unwind and regroup. It also helps the inspiration to flow.
Q. If you were given the chance to live again, how would you want it to be?
To be the best Vocal and Instrumental Musician ever. (a legend)
Pandit Dev Bansraj was born into a musical family from Tarouba village Marabella, Trinidad West Indies. From the mere age of three (3) his awareness for music just started growing, his father Sonny Ramkissoon who was a versatile musician and singer began Dev’s initial training in Vocal Music and playing the Harmonium. At the age of ten (10) Dev made his debut on Radio Trinidad. In 1967, he made a name for himself in Classical Indian Singing by winning the Independence Celebration Championship Competition in Trinidad.
In 1968, he was awarded an I.C.C.R. (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) Scholarship to study Indian Classical Vocal and Instrumental Music at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra (College of Music and Dance) New Delhi, India under the guidance of the late Maha-Mahaupadhya Pandit Dilip Chander Vedi (Vocal) and Padma Bhushan Pandit Debu Chaudhuri (Sitar).
After graduating Dev returned to Trinidad as a qualified Classical Vocalist and Musician and taught Vocal Music in various institutions with the Ministry of Education and Culture.
In 1983, he immigrated to Canada where he taught Vocal and Instrumental Music at various schools with the Board of Education.
In 1990, Dev and his wife Zaira Ann founded the Saaz-O-Aawaaz Academy of Indian Music where he is the Director/Teacher in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Also he teaches at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto, Bharat Sevashram Sangha Toronto and Pranav Hindu Mandir Toronto.
Dev is top ranking artiste of Radio and Television and has performed across the globe reaching international borders, to name a few, U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and India. Dev sings in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Bhojpuri, and has won numerous awards and trophies of recognition throughout his career.