By Anurag Dey
The scalpel gives way to a harmonium and the surgeon in 80-year-old Samir K. Gupta steps aside for the artist as he gives musical life to some poems of "Gitanjali" by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Gupta, who runs a city orthopaedic clinic, is a devoted doctor during the day and spends long hours of his nights composing music and writing books.
" 'Gitanjali' has 157 poems, of which Tagore had given music to 85. The music to one was given by the iconic Shantideb Ghosh while I have given tunes to the remaining 71," Gupta told IANS.
"Noted Rabindra Sangeet exponents including Arghya Sen and Promita Mallik have rendered their voice to my tunes," he added.
Mallik said: "In spite of being a very busy doctor, he has done a commendable job. I enjoyed singing the songs. Tagore is beyond comparison, but I think Gupta has done justice to the poems."
The multifaceted doctor has another passion - legendary Salil Chowdhury's music. Gupta has already penned a book on the composer's early life as a poet and writer and compiled most of his unreleased mass songs which are on the verge of getting lost.
"A young Salilda during his Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA) days had composed many mass songs and plays. 'Songs of Consciousness' as he used to call them carried a strong political message and were mostly never released or recorded.
"As a great fan of Salilda, his mass songs and poems, I felt the urge to collect them and bring them to the world before they got lost. This was the inspiration behind the books on him," Gupta said.
His first book "Salil Chowdhury's Early Life & Mass Songs" has been published and he is on the verge of finishing his second on the great man's poems.
"I was into music from childhood. But at the turn of the century, after my wife died, I took it as a mission to revive Salilda's songs and poems.
"I would hunt for people associated with IPTA, street dramas, etc., who have used his songs and would run after them day in and day out until I finished recording a song," the doctor said.
Salil Chowdhury's nephew Shankar Chowdhury was all praise. "I and my aunt (Jyoti Chowdhury, the first wife of the music director) loved reading the book. It is a lovely gift that he (Gupta) has given us. But for his efforts, those beautiful creations would have been lost forever," said Shankar Chowdhury.
The man who loves to talk about the master composer said: "He was the most versatile genius the country has seen. Apart from composing, music arranging and writing, he could play several musical instruments, including flute and piano."
"He had even translated 10 Beatles songs in Bengali which were sung by his (second) wife Sabita and daughters Antara and Sanchari."
Gupta, who spent most of his childhood in Myanmar (erstwhile Burma), has also written about the life and times of Bengalis living there who subsequently came back after India's independence.
The book titled "Ek Akasher Epar Opar" (Twin sides of the Same Sky) was given the Paschimbanga (West Bengal) Bangla Academy Award this year.
A sequel titled "Kaala Pani Periye" (Beyond the Black Waters) has also been published recently. The doctor, who spent 10 years practising in several hospitals in Britain, is also associated with many charitable institutions, including the Missionaries of Charity.
"Once Mother Teresa had come to see a patient at my clinic. After spending some time with her, she entered my cabin and asked me to pray with her. Together we prayed - 'I will do my job, you will do yours; together we will do His job' - That's the most beautiful prayer I ever said," Gupta said with a smile.