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Satyendranath Roy, Bena, Dotara, Ektara, Sarinja/Sarinda
Address: Hajrapara, Cooch Behar Town
Cooch Behar
West Bengal
Dotara player and Instrument maker

Nearly 65 years old, multi-skilled Satyendranath Roy took early retirement from a government job to devote himself to his passion - his music and his wood and bamboo craft. His family originally held the title Roy Pakhadhora (fan bearers for the royal family) - his forbears were landowners - while his father, Bimal Chandra Roy was well known in the field of folk songs and folk theatre. 

As a child, growing up in the village of Ekmukha near Chilkirhat in Cooch Behar Block I, he learnt to play the dotara for more than five years from Ajimuddin Mian, a staff artiste of Siliguri radio station.  Satyen recalls how he along with other students were compelled to even steal paddy from neighbouring fields to help their impoverished guru. During the long rainy months when there was no school, he also learnt bamboo craft from his elders and learnt to make fishing equipment. Unwilling to sit for his school examinations, he ran away from home and began working in the fields instead.  He also joined a local musical group.
 
Though as a young man, he opted to take up a job in Cooch Behar in 1973, he continued his musical training. Subhas Das`s music society, North Bengal Cultural Society, was a hub for all the major folk artists of the region - like Pyari Mohan Das, Gangadhar Das and Suren Bosuniya (Bhawaiya) and Satyen found himself right in the middle of a vibrant musical environment and was able to interact with the musical greats of the time. Sadly, he says, those times are gone - and there has been nobody to replace these great artistes. In 1980 he was recognised as a Dotara artiste by All India Radio.  

After a regular day at office, all through his career, the indefatigable Satyen would devote himself first to his music "riyaaz" and then fashion instruments from wood or bamboo as a hobby. He is the proud owner of several old instruments. Satyen is also a guru for the Sarinda and teaches students at workshops organised by the government.  His wife, Sushila Roy is also a radio artiste (Bhawaiya) and his children too are budding performing artists.

Satyen`s connection with the folk instrument Bena began when he was about fifteen years old. A Kushani who used to work in his childhood home would make his own Benas and Satyen learnt the craft from him. But since there was no demand for the Bena, he concentrated on Dotara and Sarinda making instead. He has experimented with Benas using wood for the sound box, and plant fibre for the strings. 

The talented Satyen Roy today is an agriculturist, musician, instrumentalist, instrument maker and wood and bamboo carver, all rolled into one! He dreams of being recognized nationally some day and spares no effort to hone his skills. But he has steadfastly refused to have himself registered as a performing artist in the state government`s records. 

In view of the limited demand for musical instruments of North Bengal, Satyen has decided to make miniature scale models of these instruments.  Sensing that there would be a greater demand for these models as gifts or decorative items, it is at least one way of keeping Rajbongshi heritage alive, feels Satyen. 


Read more about the BenaDotara and Sarinda.

Videos
Satyendranath Roy : North Bengal Dotara
Satyendranath Roy : Ektara by Satyen Roy
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