O Shakuntala!

O Shakuntala! is the latest album from Indian slide-guitar master Pandit (similar in meaning to “Maestro”) Debashish Bhattacharya. The 47-year-old began his musical career as a child-prodigy singer of Indian classical music before becoming captivated by the Western sounds of the guitar, specifically the slide guitar. A longtime lover of Hawaiian lap-steel guitar music, he is the inventor of the self-proclaimed “Trinity of Slide Guitars”—the 24-string, hollow-neck chaturangui, 14-string gandharvi, and a four-string slide ukulele called the anandi. Bhattacharya plays all three, often sounding very sitar-like, on O Shakuntala!—a musical interpretation of the legendary Sanskrit tale (and dramatic love story) Abhigyana Shankutalam. He is joined on this passionate album—a blend of the Hindustani music of northern India, the Karnatic music of the south and Western music—by his brother Subhasis Bhattacharjee on tablas, and female drummers Chitrangana Agle Reshwal and Charu Hariharan. At times meditative and lulling, at times tempestuous and frantic, the 10 songs comprising O Shankuntala! amount to a journey through the emotions of love in all its facets.