Manoj Mohan Misra, the founder of Chetla Murari Smiriti Sangeet Sammilini –
our dearest Manuda - Sri Mohan Lal Mukherjee
Sri Manoj Mohan Misra was born on 1 December, 1911 and died on16 February,2006. By all of Chetla, Young and Old, he was dearly and reverdly called Manuda. In his death the knot between the older generation with the younger one in the field of politics, social service, body building, sports, culture and above all cultivation music, got severed. He was to us like a guardian. He used to direct and criticize us and at the same time help us with love, affection and advice and in doing so he used to keep himself above all political beliefs. At present in every good work and celebration we feel his non-existence.
Manuda’s father was Pt. Mohini Misra, the renowned, Dhrupad – Maestro and Veena – player, mother Bhabani Devi. Manuda was the eldest of seven brothers and eight sisters.. The second son Murari Mohan Misra died prematurely at the age of twenty five. But within so short a period he had secured a special position for himself in the field of classical music. His mentor was Pt. Ratan Jhankar of Morris College, Lucknow, one of the greatest music master of India. It is Manuda who in 1941 founded ‘Murari Smriti Sangeet Sammilani’ in the sacred memory of Murari Mohan. The youngest sister of Manuda is Smt. Nirmala Misra, the popular singer and pride of Chetla, Bay of Bengal. Manuda himself was a great admirer of music.
Manuda had his first lesson of patriotism, social work, physical training and sports from the contact of Gurusaday Datta through Bratacharri and as a member of the gymnasium of revered Jagat Chandra Chattopadhyay situated on the Chetla road (presently Kabi Dinesh Das Sarani). Other contemporaries of his at this gymnasium was Sarbashri Biharilal Ganguly, Sachindra Nath (Nimai) Mitra, Nikhjil Ranjan Basu, Debu Chatterjee and others,. This organization had brought out a handwritten magazine named ‘Raakhi’. This ‘Raakhi’ through transformation became famous as ‘Raakhi Sangha’. Alongwith body – building and social work, as a member of the organization Manuda became a expert in boxing also. Freedom fighters had easy and ready frequentation there. Many of the members of the organisation had taken part in national disobedience movement and had, therefore suffered imprisonment. Manuda also had been imprisoned twice and at last had for sometime been interned at the Sundarban area. After independence Government of India honoured Sri Manoj Mohan Misra as freedom fighter with copper plate. Manuda was one of the organizers who brought Bipin Chandra Pal and Netaji Subhas Chandra Basu at Chetla Park and Rakhi Sangha.
In 1932 Manoj Mohan Misra took part in bantam weighjt boxing competition and became the Bengal topper. Subsequently he took part in boxing competitions of other provinces of India and secured top most positions there too. In 1928 a group of young cyclist under his leadership cycled all the way first to Puri and then to Darjeeling from Chetla, Kolkata-27.
Manuda was not only the founder of ‘Murari Smiriti Sangeet Sammilani’, he on one hand made arrangements to impart musical training through his organization and on the other glorified Chetla by assembling famous music maestros of Chetla and of India every year – some of these great artistes who had taken part at the music conference held at Chetla under the banner Murari Smriti Sangeet Sammilani are Pt. Lakshman Bhattacharya, Pt. Ravishankar, Ustad Bade Bulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan. Pt. Nikhil Banerjee, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pt. Gopi Krishna, Pt. Santa Prosad, Pt. V. G. Yog and others. Music lovers of Kolkata and of all over Bengal would muster strong at Chetla to have a taste of vocal and instrumental music of these master artistes. Music competition also used to be held under the auspices of Murari Sangeet Sammilani. Arati Mukherjee, Nirmala Misra,Purabi Datta, Haimanti Shukla, Shyhamal Basu, Radhakanto Nandi are few to be named who were once competitors in the said competition. Even at present Dilip Misra the younger son of the Late Manoj Mohan Misra and Tapasi Misra, his daughter-in-law and their son Diptesh Misra are trying to preserve the tradition, which is really praise worthy. Help and patronage of the music loving people behind this good endeavour of theirs are of utmost necessity.
Manuda was founder member of Rakhi Sangha and also actively associated with Chetla Databya Bhandar, Ramkrishna Mandap, Samabaya Bipani, Nagarik Samiti, Chetla. Firmness of his character, his courage and tendency of standing against injustice and unsocial activities are worthy of mention and should be learnt and taught by all. His memory was very sharp and amazing even at the age of 96.
It is not at all possible to recollect in a short article as this the detailed narration of multifaceted life and works of Manuda and we are also not fit for the job. The facts presented in the present article are partly recollected from memory and partly from friendly Chat with Manuda and collected with the help of Dilip Misra, the younger son of Manuda.