Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
It was rather interesting to meet someone like the director General of Police, Muktesh Chander. Not just because he is the top cop in Goa, but because he makes time to pursue his hobbies which include bee keeping, kitchen gardening, cyber security, hypnotism, among many others. As they say, ‘One needs to make time for a hobby and not pursue it during free time,’ and Chander seems to take this seriously.
In association with Kala Academy, today he will perform 25 Bollywood songs on the flute, an instrument he picked up from the age of seven.
- A police officer and a musician. This unusual combination is surely has a history. Tell us about it.
When I was in the fifth standard my father’s friend who used to play the flute asked all of us to try to playing the instrument. He said that whoever plays the transverse flute will get it. None of the others could but I managed. I had no clue of music. None of us had any musical taste as we were all into academics. The flute chose me, I didn’t choose the flute. And since then I have always been playing the flute.
- So, if you were a child in today’s age, what would you choose?
If I was a child in today’s situation, definitely I would have opted to become a musician. Also, today parents are open and encouraging children to take up extracurricular hobbies. At that time, it was not like this. When I was young, playing the flute at home was considered noise. Later when I started playing a few songs my father was surprised and would get excited trying to recognise the song. Everything I learnt about the flute has been my own journey – reading from books or watching people play. There was no chance I could go for formal music or flute training. Today also when I play I listen to a song several times and let it soak in my mind before I pick up the flute to practice it.
- So how did you manage to take your hobby to the stage?
I have played in school, college, the police training school too. But the first time I played on stage was when Rafi Foundation approached me about five years ago. They had organised a programme on the death anniversary of Mohammed Rafi saab where singers would sing Rafi songs. I was asked to play one number. Several music directors and film stars were there, including Anandji from Kalyan-Anand duo. Also Rafi’s daughter was present. This stage show was the turning point in my life. That’s when I realised I could play on stage and later participated in various programmes organised by Doordarshan. The next great opportunity was when I took part and won the second place in a TV show ‘CEO Has Got Talent’. I also won the people’s choice award for it.
- This is your first solo concert in Goa today. What are you expecting?
I have found the people in Goa to be those who love and appreciate music, irrespective of its kind. This solo concert of Bollywood melodies on flute is never done before. I will be playing 25 songs and have arranged a local music group from Goa who play Bollywood music very well. For this programme I have selected songs very carefully from Afsana Lik Rahi Hoon from Dard, Lag Ja Gale, Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, Ek Pyaar ka Nagma hai, to Arijit Singhs’ Tum hi ho, Suno Na Sang, and end with Sultan’s Jag Ghume Aa. Arijit’s songs are very melodious and soulful.
- What were the advantages and problems you encounter while playing the flute?
Oh the flute doesn’t need to be tuned, it’s easy to carry, and easily available. The disadvantages are that these are manually made and the quality can vary. It requires tremendous breath control and stamina as it has to be played continuously without a break.
All songs are difficult to play on the flute especially if there are modulations like in those of Arijit and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. There are some which are simple to play. But for others there is very little time for breathing. Among western numbers I enjoy playing the Titanic theme song and Lambada.
- Is there any similarity in playing the flute and being a police officer?
(Laughs) I guess the only similarity is that bamboo is the same in both.
- How has playing the flute helped you personally or professionally?
In college days while studying engineering, when I wasn’t able to solve a mathematical problem, I would take a break, pick the flute and go back to the sum after minutes and would manage to solve it. It is very soothing, calming and helps to concentrate. Here in the professional field, when I am tired at the end of the day, it’s the urge to play the flute that helps to bring out the artist in me, and helps disconnect. It also helps to be a good human being which is a quality most artists possess.
- You have a PhD in cyber security and have been the director of Cyber Division of National Technical Research Centre besides heading the traffic cell in New Delhi, if you had to choose, which area would you want to work in, in Goa?
Together we can reduce traffic accidents. I’m trying. There are lots of people have lost their lives. Because I have served as traffic chief in Delhi Police I have lots of ideas and experience to impart and share in Goa. But for this I need cooperation from other departments and people. Together we can reduce road accidents in Goa.
- As the head of the police force in Goa, what do you aspire for your police personnel?
Days of generalists are gone. Now it’s time for everyone become specialists in the area they are posted in or the field that interests them even if it means spending from your pocket or taking leave. Hard work in the long run definitely pays off.
(Bollywood Melodies on flute by Muktesh Chander will be held on April 8 at 6.30 p.m. at Dinanath Mangeshkar Kala Mandir, Panaji. Open to all. )