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The name of Vishmadev Chattopadhyay, sparkles in the history of Indian Classical music as an extraordinary genius singer who ‘appeared like sunrays in the musical horizon.’ He could wander around the different fields of music with ease and at times surpassed even the top rankers in their respective fields by adroit excellence and wonderful artistic acumen though he used to sing basically khyal. Here lies his versatility. He imprinted the impression of his creativity in almost every field of music and became a legendary figure in his lifetime.


Family & Education

Born on 8th November 1909 at Sarai village near Pandua station of Hooghly district in West Bengal he manifested his musical talent at his very five years of age and became famous as child prodigy. His parents were Ashutosh Chattopadhyay and Prabhabati Devi, the descendant of Sadhak Gangananda Swami of that Chattopadhyay family of Hooghly district to other branch of which Thakur Ramkrishna belonged. His is the family of spiritual background. Vishmadev was the first one in the family who had taken up music as his life style. He was brought to Kolkata when he was one year old. He was admitted at Sanskrit Collegiate School and appeared at Probeshika examination from Calcutta Training Academy. Thereafter he took admission to Vidyasagar College.

Vishmadev had taken his initial talim on Classical music from Shri Nagendranath Datta. Later on Khalifa Badal Khan of Delhi gharana had given him talim for fourteen years. At the age of twelve his first record was published from HMV under prestige label with two tappas of Nidhubabu. He stood first in all the three categories Khyal, Tappa and Thumri two years consecutively in an inter college music competition and was awarded BESTMAN prize. The marks that he secured enabled the college also to achieve the first rank.Top


Kaji Nazrul Islam was an admirer of Vishmadev. At his will Vishmadev joined Megaphone Record Company in the year 1933 as a Music Director cum Trainer. During this year Megaphone published his record on Khyal based on Malkaush and Aasha raga. His name fanned out beyond the border of Bengal. He started receiving invitations from Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Benaras, Delhi, Mathura even from the distant Sikarpur near Karachi of the then undivided India. With this his performance was regularly live-broadcasted from All India Radio. Megaphone Company had released many of his records on Khyal and Thumri based on different ragas. The melody of his voice reigned supreme with captivating tonic variations, the jetspeed taan, the artistic set of sargams boltaan and gayaki. He flowered Raagpradhan Bengali songs in an innovative way. His Bhajan and Harmonium playing records were also published at that time. In addition, he used to tune in various songs for other singers and even published records on the orchestra music. Records of many palas (drama on disc) were published from Megaphone Record Company of which Vishmadev was the Music director.

Vishmadev joined Film Corporation as a Film Music Director in the year 1937. Here the ace artist had tuned in twelve films. The film named Rikta stirred the mindset of the public for in this film he introduced the mingling of eastern and western tune which is the first such attempt in any indian film. Shri Sachin Dev Burman was his assistant in four of these films.


Vishmadev was of religious temparament from his boyhood days. After his Upanayan he maintained gairik attire for 11 years as ordered by his father and Vishmadev used to attend the school and college classes with this dress. Though in his service life he did not put on that gairik dress he had that spiritual mentality which this dress code signifies. He had no attraction for materialistic world and it became evident when in 1940 he left his fame, money, wife and sons during the peak time to stay at Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. He came to Kolkata once for a short period from the Ashram during 1941 Durgapuja. He spent eight years at Pondicherry and finally returned during 1948 with the broken health.

During the Post Pondicherry period at Kolkata he recorded Khyal, Thumri and Bengali songs published by Megaphone co. and started singing in the functions. Though he was requested to work in the film line he did not agree to do so. He used to live like a domestic sage.Top

As A Guru

As a teacher Vishmadev also earned a good reputation. The students who came to him for learning were like Rajkumar Shyamanand Singh of Banaili Estate, Sachin Mukherjee, S.D Burman (Music Director), Suresh Chakraborty and Film personalities like Kanon Devi, Chhaya Devi, Lily Chakraborty. Besides, Begum Akhtar, Uma Bose, Juthika Roy, Prakash Kali Ghoshal, Protima Bandyopadhyay, Bhabani Das, Himansu Roy, Saila Devi, Chinmoy Chattopadhyay and Jayanta Chattopadhya, Chairman, Vishmadev Memorial Trust took talim from him.

Contribution To Indian Music

v  Introduced new type of sargam in Khyal and Thumri.
v  Introduced new genre of Bengali Raagpradhan song.
v  Introduced new style of singing and formed a different Gayaki.
v  Founded new style of Harmonium playing.
v  Introduced mingling of the tune of eastern and western music in film.


v Rabindra Bharati University conferred prestigious D.Lit. title in 1972.
v UNESCO collected a record of his four songs as sample to have foreigners idea of Indian Music.
v The West Bengal Government made a documentary film covering his life on celluloid in 1975.
v Prachin Kalakendra of Chandigarh conferred Sangeet Nayak in 1976.
v The West Bengal Pustak Parshad issued a date calendar for the year 1984 with the sketchwork of his face etched by eminent artist.
v Kolkata Doordarshan made two documentary films on his life and music-one in 1991 and the other in 2006.
v Received number of gold and silver medals for his performances at various places.
v Received number of Manpatras from different organizations and other articles as souvenir.
v Swami Santadas Institute of Culture paid homage with the posthumous award “Swami Santadas Smarak Samman” in the year 2006.
v Number of students did research work on him and obtained Ph.d degree.
v A road in New Alipur is named after Sangeetacharya Vishmadev Chattopadhyay as Pandit Vishmadev Chattopadhyay Sarani.

Comments Of Celebrated Personalities

Vishmadev belongs to the epoch-making artist of this class who has easily entered into the depth of delightful world through peaceful and meditative trance where the rules of Sastra are inactive or different techniques of music have been ceased to exist. In his divine music lyric, laya, tune, rhythm have forsaken their individual existence in the midst of unearthly romantic union ….
- Radhika Mohan Moitra (Sarode Maestro)

I have never seen such a musical brain like Vishmadev. He had a great command over melody. He could create such an atmosphere by juxtaposing the 'Komal' and 'Tibra' notes in Thumri songs that though it was against Shastrik rules the application could transform the musicians as also the musicologist to such an ecstatic state that they did not better to feel that it was crossing the periphery of set rules, rather this made them exclaim - 'Oh God! What to say! None but Vishmadev can only do this!'
- Mushtaq Ali Khan (Sitar Maestro)

He is an exemplary figure. I had many chances to accompany him but everytime I felt that he was different, extra-ordinary. He had a wonderful command on laya. The skill he had on harmonium playing is also a rare illustration.
- Hirendra Kumar Gangopadhyay (Hiru Ganguly)

The consummate artistry exhibited by him in the matter of application of ‘swaras’ was beyond the wildest imagination of the best among artists. He had indeed become an idea personified, a legend in his lifetime and remains so to this day.
- Rajyeswar Mitra (Sharangdeb)

He is a person of very sober, gentle and absolute artistic mood. The style of his singing is very attractive. His songs always comes to my memory with special joy and liking. His songs will remain ever fresh to the music lovers.
- Ratanjanker S.N.

To comment on him means to worship mother Ganges with her own water, ... I would rather undertake the impossible task of showing the Sun by lighting a match stick but somehow or other to bring him to light by me is a total no-no affair.
- Dhananjay Bhattacharya (Renowned Singer of Bengal)

Nobody like him will ever be born in Bengal. No one will be able to sing Thumri as he used to. He was the creator of Bengalee Raagpradhan Song. Listening to his music made me singing.
- AkhilBandhu Ghosh

Vishmadev was an artist of modern temperament. He composed a unique tune by mingling the western tune with the Indian one. That was the first time when western music was put into Indian film. The song was set for a Bengalee film named Rikta.
- Premendra Mitra

It is since many years that such a genius singer appeared like sunrays in the musical horizon. He used to enchant everybody within a few moments by his song. Intoxication of Bandish, melody of the tune and TAASIR of the voice are all present in his khyal song. I observed that while singing he used to become so much absorbed in the music, and it appeared as if he was singing for the listening to the God himself.
- Pt. Siaram Tewari

In my music life Kaloda(pet name of Sangeetacharya Vishmadev Chattopadhyay) was my idol. ... I have seen kaloda as a saint, as a learner, as a perfect artist – and a total oblivious ... indifferent one. I cannot remember seeing anyone else so much engrossed with tune, taan, rhythm like him. I owe to him so much in my music life that this debt is unrepayable. Kaloda was gifted with the blessings of Goddess Saraswati.
- Ramkumar Chattopadhyay (Renowned Singer & Composer of Bengal)

Inspite of being older Sachin (S. D. Burman) accepted him as his Guru. Vishmadev was literally Sangeet Guru in the matter of Shastriya sangeet and the excellency of his voice. No where did I find his comparison.
- Pankaj Kumar Mallick (Renowned Singer & Composer of Bengal)

I was not fortunate enough to listen to the songs of Vishmadev for many a time. But what I heard was enough to made me inspire as well as perspire as he used to play with the tune in such a way that was beyond one’s imagination and belief.Top
- V.Balsara

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