Splendours of Royal Mysore -
The Untold Story of the Wodeyars

Events

Book release in Kolkata - 28th July 2008

The Oxford Bookstore on Park Street in Kolkata, a historical venue in itself as it turns 100 soon, seemed the perfect venue for the Kolkata release of Vikram Sampath's 'Splendours of Royal Mysore'. The ambience could not have been better, with Mysore silk sarees draped around the venue, the aroma of Mysore sandalwood incense sticks, Mysore jasmine flowers and paan-supari for all guests! The book was launched by historian and Rajya Sabha MP, Dr. Bharati Ray, Vice Chancellor of Kolkata University.

The evening began on an interesting note with an invocation in carnatic style, a composition of Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, Mahaganapathim Bhajeham in Raga Athana, sung by the author himself. This was the Maharaja’s first composition, composed in 1945. Speaking on the occasion Dr. Ray said Vikram has made history what it should be - an interesting story and was quite sure that unlike academic books on history which seldom get read, this book would find wide readership.

The other eminent guests for the evening were Mr. Goutam Ghose, eminent filmmaker and Mr S. V. Raman, Programme Director of the Max Mueller Bhavan. Mr. Ghose declared that he had found enough cinematic material in the book! He rued that most historical films were mere costume dramas and seldom got into the psyche of the royals. He however felt that this book gave him an insight into the minds of the kings and queens of Mysore and there was enough merit in making it into a film.

Mr Raman spoke about various merits of the book, its style and the period of South Indian history that he found fascinating. Speaking on the occasion Vikram traced the much famed Mysore-Bengal connection, one that is based on ‘spiritual brotherhood’ and cultural exchanges. He recalled the sponsorship of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago trip by the Mysore Maharaja, the latter’s patronage to many eminent Bengalis like Sir Albion Rajkumar Banerjee, the Dewan of Mysore, Smt. Kumudini Khastagir and Smt. Sarala Debi Choudhurani, Gurudev Tagore’s niece - both of whom were called upon to run the Maharani Girls’ School, the patronage given to musicians from Bengal including the famed Gouhar Jaan and so on.

The evening ended with a delightful rendering of ‘Bhanga Gaan’ by young and talented musician Sounak Chattopadhyay. The Bhanga Gaan is a genre within the Rabindra Sangeet that is inspired by Carnatic music tunes, that Sarala Debi took back from Mysore and sung for her uncle that inspired him. This evening progressed with more music as Vikram Sampath sang the original piece, ‘Lavanya Rama’ of Saint Thyagaraja in Raga Poorna Shadja and Sounak sang the Bhanga gaan equivalent ‘Labonyo poorno prane.’

The event was attended by a host of luminaries of the city including Smt. Tara Gandhi, wife of West Bengal Governor H. E. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, members of the Burdwan royal family, educationists and authors.

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Splendours of Royal Mysore

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