The song of change

Murshidabad,WEST BENGAL / Rawatbhata,RAJASTHAN / Mumbai,MAHARASHTRA :

As her first single creates a buzz online, Shreya Ghoshal gears up for the next, which is based on thumri

The first rays of the morning sun pierce through tall cedar trees, swathing the Kullu Valley in a warm golden glow. Shreya Ghoshal runs into the woods with lilting notes echoing through the stillness. Her voice is as soft as the folds of her pink flowing chiffon gown and the music as rhythmic as the sounds of Nature. It is in this lush locale, her first single ‘Dhadkane azad hain’, that is racking up record views on YouTube, unfolds. From soothing green surroundings, she moves to croon on slopes covered in shimmering white snow and the melody melts your heart.

Shreya forayed into the independent music scene with the digital release of this song three days ago. The lyrics ‘Dhadkane azad hain, pehre laga kar dekh lo’ (you cannot put a curb on emotions), penned by Manoj Muntashir, seem to indicate her new-found free-spirited approach.

Individual expression

“This single is definitely a personal statement in creativity. After we recorded the song and shot the video, it felt good that I was able to make my choices. And what more can you ask for, when your colleagues and listeners back you wholeheartedly,” says Shreya, who has been into playback singing for the past 15 years, and is often referred to as the ‘queen of hits’.

“Ruling popularity charts is one thing, but it cannot match the satisfaction of collaborating with a like-minded team on a project of your dream,” she adds.

Among the many complimentary tweets that followed the launch, the one that summed up the current music scenario was by young singer-songwriter Armaan Malik. It said: ‘When mainstream artistes start supporting independent music nothing can stop us.’ To which Shreya aptly replied: ‘More power to independent music. Ab sach mein dhadkane azad hain’ .

Though Bollywood tunes continue to loom large over Indian soundscape, there has never been a better time than now for indie artistes. The Internet has been the biggest reason for this. Dedicated websites and online platforms have brought this culture to the fore. “The digital age has freed artistes from being dependent on recording labels. Reach out to listeners by just uploading your songs and enjoy as the clicks keep growing,” points out Shreya, whose incessant tweets keep her active on the social media. “It’s hard not to find me peering at my phone screen. I need to be connected to the world all the while,” she laughs.

With the resurgence of indie music in the country, great new acts doing a good amount of original work, and not just covers of western hits, have emerged. Collaboration and exchange are crucial to this young, vibrant musical order that is not bound by genres. So there’s a Shreya Ghoshal coming up with her own track or composer Amit Trivedi incorporating indie elements into Bollywood music. Or there’s a Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri singing a film number and Karthik, crooner of many chartbusters in southern films, attempting a classical piece. The experiments may not work every time, yet the hybridity is exciting and allows exploring links between musical forms.

“Independent initiatives are not just about performance choices, you get to experience the versatility of music. This single has given me the chance to revisit my classical roots. With a childhood spent in classical training, there are subtle traditional influences. My next one, to be released in the next few weeks, is based on thumri. I am always excited about rendering songs with impeccable musical values, for instance, ‘Bairi piya’ from Devdas . I feel such compositions remain with the listeners, much after a film leaves the cinema halls.”

Non-film repertoire

After shuttling between studios and juggling hectic recording schedules, Shreya is now keen to draw up a repertoire of non-film creations to move beyond stereotypical compositions and find her own musical path. She refers to her teaming up with the inimitable Gulzar, music composer Shantanu Moitra and singer Shaan for the album ‘Gulzar in conversation with Tagore’, that released last year, as a major milestone. “It was something that I have always desired doing but never thought will happen. It was an experience that took me closer to my music. While interacting with Gulzarsaab, I rediscovered the romance of Tagore’s verses. It was like a homecoming since I hail from Kolkata. In Gulzarsaab’s translations and Moitra’s eloquent music, I understood the nuances of the lines as I rendered.”

The seven tracks, including the haunting ‘Shingar ko rahne do’, were not presented in the usual Rabindra Sangeet style, but with modern orchestration for a wider appeal. “The aim of this ode to the Nobel Laureate poet was to introduce the present generation to his works. Nothing can be more fulfilling for an artiste than being part of such meaningful projects that take music to newer heights. It is during such rare moments that you get to hear your inner voice — the soul song,” says Shreya.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review / by Chitra Swaminathan / July 14th, 2017

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