Biography of Pandit Motilal Sinha

There are many luminous artists of Bishnupriya Manipuri who have enriched the art and culture. Especially in music, in the galaxy of artist, Pandit Motilal Sinha’s name comes first.

With conceit I could say that there is no dearth of people who are associated with art and culture in our Bishnupriya Manipuri community. We have a rich cultural background especially in the field of dance and music. And whenever there will be any discussion about the contribution in Bishnupriya Manipuri music it will not be completed without mentioning the one of the greatest in the Bishnupriya Manipuri legends, Pandit Motilal Sinha’s colossal contribution to enrich the Bishnupriya Manipuri art and culture.

Pt. Motilal was born in Bhakatpur, Silchar, Assam, in the year 1923. He was the third child of the then great Mridanga Badak , Sree Deveshwar Sinha and mother Smt. Kusum Leima Devi who was also a renowned artist of Bishnupriya Manipuri cultural songs and dance.

Brothers, Mohinimohan, Kunjolal, and Biresh, also had remarkable achievements in Bishnupriya Manipuri art and culture. From the very childhood, Motilal and his brothers were inclined towards music and drama as they were growing in cultural environment of his uncle who had a drama company named “Premsing Jatra Dal”. “Premsing Jatra Dal” was famous in Cachar and Shyllete (of present Bangladesh).

Interestingly, famous Bishnupriya Manipuri legends like, Kunjolal Sinha , Guru Bipin Sinha, Guru Nilmadav Sinha, Behari Sinha, Golap Sinha. Surendra Sinha, Malu Miyan( Bangladesh) etc. all had their first brush in the field of art and music to this drama company.

Brother Kunjolal Sinha is happened to be the first artist to perform in All India Radio , Calcutta from Cachar , and first to record there. Motilal also followed the footstep of Kunjolal and went to Calcutta after qualifying entrance examination for Calcutta University in 1945. There, he met the Great film director Promothesh Boruah, who offered him for playback singing in his film “Ameri”.

Later in 1946 he went to Lucknow to pursue classical music under Bhatkand University, but he could not complete due to poor financial conditions. He came back in 1949 and married to Smt. Ramani Devi who later had a major contribution to make Motilal , the legend.

In fifties , Motilal performed Bishnupriya Manipuri songs written by great Jagatmohan Sinha in All India Radio, Gauhati. Some of the songs are : “ Janam Janame more, diya petheis hunar Monipure”, “Bishnupriya uthone osomoye gunjia thaile”etc..

He also actively participated in the famous “Bhakatpur Natya Sanstha” which was famous in packaged programmes in then Barak Valley.

Where as Guru Nilmadav taught Motilal Uchhanga sangeet and also Rabindra sangeet, guru Surendra also helped Motila in many ways to nurture in him to become a complete artist. In the year 1957 Motilal ranked third in all India examination from Morries Music College, Luknow under Bhatkande University and with special scholarship from Assam government. He passed Bisharad( B.Mus) in 1959.

He used to be a regular artist for All India Radio Gauhati since 1949 to 1957. He also used to direct a program on Rabindra Sangeet in All India Radio, Silchar.

In 1960 he joined as music teacher in Govt. Girls Higher Secondary in Silchar. He established

Silchar Sangeet Ashram in 1962 and was also associated with cultural institutions of Barak Valley. In 1983-84 he ranked first in 7th yr of Bangia Sangeet Parishad and awarded “Sangeet Prabor”( M.Mus) with a gold medal. He had also performed in many places in India like Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna. Calcutta etc.

Padmabhushan Dr. S N Ratnajhankar, Pt.Govind Narayan Natu, Ustad Usman Ali Khan, Pt. K J Ginde, Pt. S N Shukla, Pt. P N Chinchore  etc are the few famous musicians from whom Motila learned the Hindusthani Classical Music.

In the year 1987 he was rewarded with the best music teacher by Govt. of Assam. In 1997 he was awarded “ Bishnu Rava”. Alongside with the “Gokulananda Gitiswami Award”, he has also received innumerable felicitation and awards from organizations like Sangeet Chakra, Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan.

The most dignified title “ Pandit” was awarded by Bangia Sahitya Parishad , Calcutta in the Silver Jubilee celebration on 23rd May 2000. In 2002 he was awarded as “Sangeet Jyoti” by Uttar Purba Sangskritik and Arya Samajik Pratishtan. The award was handed over by the Governor of Assam.

Pandit Motilal has also written many songs in Bishnupriya Manipuri and Bengali. Many songs got publication in various language magazines. He has published books on classical ragas named “ Naba Raag Manjari I & II in Bengali which had been approved by D.P.I Assam Govt.and “Kusum Manjari” in Bishnupriya Manipuri language. Moreover, he has also composed many songs on dance dramas “ Baishnav padavali”, “Chitrangada”, “Taser Desh” and many.

He also created a Nritya Nattya, a Ballet on Vaishnav Podabali, directed ballet on Joydeb’s Geeta Govinda,. Also had given his raaga on Srimanta Shankardev’s “Paarijaat Haran”, “Ruckmini Haran” etc. Also performed many times a Raas dhari, Sutra Dhari in Basanta Raas, Udukhal etc of Bishnupriya Manipuri community.

Few famous Bishnupriya Manipuri songs by him are “ Saloili Radha Vrindabone”, “ Borak pare joro oilu”, “Laktake kader”, Kalchinkhei bouyor piche” etc.

There are songs of Pt. Motilal on the lyrics of his younger brother Biresh Ranajn Sinha named,”Nungshipa Sur”, Elai Moutup, Radhar Ninge” etc which are available in cassetes and CD forms.

It is really not possible to illustrate in words the contribution and achievements of Pt. Motilal Sinha in Hindustani classical music. Till his last age he was indulged in  imparting Classical music, Rabindra Sangeet, Najrul geet, traditional and modern songs in Bengali and Bishnupriya Manipuri to thousands of his disciples.

In my pow-wow I had  learnt that though Sangeet Guru , Pandit Motilal Sinha, Sangeet Nipun( B.S.V, Lucknow), Sangeet Prabor( Gold Medalist) is certainly amongst the greatest of Bishnupriya Manipuri legends still having an iota of penitence for not being rewarded by Sangeet Natak Academy ,Govt. of India ,which he already would have received had he been a Bengali or a north Indian ??

Shri Motilal died on 30th March 2012 at the age of 88 in his ancestral village Bhakatpur. Motial had three sons and four daughters all of them are also engrosed with music and other form of performing arts and are earning a name of their own. Sri Motilal was undoubtedly one of the greatest Bishnupriya Manipuri of all times.

One Reply to “Biography of Pandit Motilal Sinha

Bijit Sarma Reply

Thanks to the author of this short biography.
Very happy to know that we are able to keep This kind of biography of BM personalities on a digital platform so that anybody can access and read about the great people of our rich community.

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