“If music be the food of love, play on” – William Shakespeare
It isn’t every day we find melody and archaic under the same roof, do we? Such is the story of Braganza Musicals, a 73 year old name that refers to a long period in music itself. The music abode adorns the left wing of the Park Street neighbouring Tung-Fong restaurant; the original shop though is located at Marquis Street. The place is nevertheless moist with the nostalgia of a culture much celebrated in Kolkata, Music. The founders of the rustic shop were Francis Braganza and Thomas Braganza. Today, the main men behind the counter are Dicky Braganza and Tony Braganza with their sons taking the lantern forward. Music flows in the blood of this family with each member being an expert at some musical device or the other. We caught up with the legendary Tony Braganza, a charming pianist himself. It was indeed an experience of a lifetime to converse with the man withholding such deep heritage in Kolkatan music. To top it all, in the end, he played some beautiful pieces of music on his much loved piano only for us.
Following is an excerpt of our conversation with him.
Soham Biswas: Which Year was the shop established in? Is it right to say that yours is the oldest musical shop in Kolkata?
Tony Braganza: Our original shop at Marquis Street was established in 1942, the one at Free School Street is only 6 years old. We don’t claim that as there is Reynolds that claim to be a hundred years old; but yes we take pride in being the first to have brought in imported instruments in a time when mostly foreign replicas made in India were sold.
SB: You have literally brought in the music scene in Kolkata, so how would you say the evolution of music has been for this city?
TB: Back in those days, instruments like Pianos or Guitars were replicated here from the foreign models as there were a lot of troubles importing them. We were the first ones to bring in imported drum Kits, then Pianos. Gradually and with time the electronic scene in music came up and then people like Bappi Lahiri and some others took it off efficiently. So if it’s music it will obviously evolve and surely flourish.
I remember S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman visiting the shop quite frequently. Satyajit Ray was more of a friend to my father. The point is celebrity or otherwise, if you are a musician you will need good instruments.
SB: How has the customer’s buying pattern changed or evolved over the years?
TB: Earlier we used to scrap up our geometry boxes and then cut or break the protractors to make plectrums now the scenario is more inclined on the youngster crowd, it’s like the best guitar or the most expensive drum kit is yours depending on how your Secondary or Higher Secondary results are, so anyway we are always thankful to the parents.
SB: Can you tell us the names of some celebrities who have visited the shop?
TB: There were many, I remember S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman visiting the shop quite frequently. Satyajit Ray was more of a friend to my father. The point is celebrity or otherwise, if you are a musician you will need good instruments.
SB: What would you say is the secret behind the cult following that you have?
TB: Umm. Well that is not for me to say, but yes we have made a mark when it comes to instruments like Piano, guitars and Kongos. We are also quite loved for our variety in acoustics.
Braganza Musicals, the shop which has known musicians for a time more than musicians have known music is a pilgrimage for every musician breathing some melody in the city of rhythms. So the next time you feel the need for music, you know where to head to!
The Beacon apologizes for an error in the ownership lineage earlier