With the sudden spike in streaming services, more people, millennials and Gen Zers in particular, have started listening to classical music these days than a decade ago. suggests an international study.
Back home, the scene is no different. Young people now prefer listening to legendary classical singers like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi than commercial songs, adds yet another report. Thus, one can safely conclude that a shift is underway in the listening habits of the new generation. In the case of Odisha, more singers with classical vocal training have reached the last round of singing reality shows, as they are heard more frequently. Whether Barnali Hota, Ananya Sritam Nanda or Sohini Mishra, they all underwent rigorous training in classical music before monopolizing the limelight.
Odisha, apart from these shining stars, also boasts of a pool of young classical singers who have carved out their own space in the national music scene. A few of them have shared with Sunday POST their success story and how classical vocal training has played a decisive role in their careers.
‘I made 40 days of silent music
practice in the Himalayas
Dhrupad is the oldest tradition of Hindustani music in the Indian subcontinent. Born and raised in Karanjasol, a nondescript village in Bhograi block of Balasore district, Mukund Dev is known as the only nationally known Dhrupad singer of Odisha. He also established the Dhrupad Music Foundation in Bhubaneswar to promote the style.
Talking about his journey in the world of classical music and its importance in his career, Mukund says: “During my nearly 20-year journey in Indian classical music, I have had the opportunity to meet many artists and music lovers from all over the country. and abroad. To get to the root of Indian music, I studied at Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalay and Mumbai University and learned the subtle nuances of music from gurus like Padma Shri Gundecha brothers (Bhopal), Sangeet Acharya Pandit Arun Kashalkar (Mumbai) and Shri Vijayanand Naik. To experience the inherent powers of Indian classical music, I did 40 days of silent music practice in the Himalayas. Along with these 40 days, I completed 200 days of silent musical meditation in my life and experienced many tangible facts of Indian classical music.
He continues: “Music is not only a means of entertainment; music is an invisible force that illuminates life with all its energy. Indian classical music has a unique fusion of acoustics, mathematics, chemistry and physiology along with Indian culture and Indian philosophy. If someone studies Indian classical music reverently and finds the right guru, it becomes easy for him to understand all genres of music. Personally, Indian classical music helped me grow intellectually.
He further adds, “The practice of Indian classical music is essential in recognizing various notes in music, which has helped me establish my identity in the world of music.”
“Classical music is
the soul of our culture
One of the most versatile classical singers of this generation, Mahaprasad Kar needs no introduction. His voice is heard from time to time when you turn on the radio or television. He has also performed extensively on stage since the age of nine. Being the son of legendary singer Prafulla Kar, he was destined to become a classical singer.
About his date with classical music, Mahaprasad says, “I come from a family of renowned musicians. My grandfather Khetramohan Kar was a tabla maestro and my father Prafulla Kar, is a nationally renowned musical director, singer and lyricist. My ancestors belonged to the zamindar family. At that time, we used to organize cultural programs inviting classical singers like Hirabai Barodekar, Omkarnath Thakur among other eminent personalities in our home. My father grew up watching such events which left a lasting impact on him.
He was influenced by classical music and wanted to pursue a career in music. Similarly, I too have been attracted to classical singing since my childhood. When I was nine years old, I loved watching my father sing for long hours without getting tired. Seeing my growing interest in classical music, he asked his Guru Pandit JVS Rao to teach me Hindustani classical. So I trained in Hindustani music under the tutelage of Pandit Rao.
When I was young, I was inspired by the singing style of Anup Jalota who took bhajan singing to a different level. I started playing such songs on stage and being appreciated.
How does he incorporate the style of classical singing into modern songs? He says, “My dad never wanted to sing commercial tunes. But the demand for classical music was rare. So he starts singing movie songs, making sure to give them a classic touch. I am also following in my father’s footsteps. My songs have a raga element that makes me different from others. Mixing raga with songs is my forte. I sang songs like Biswa Jagannath Brahma Jagannath, Mote Bhari Laja lage outside Odissi, Chhanda, Champu. My style has been appreciated by eminent singers.
“Today’s singers are deprived of a good teacher. I am lucky to have a guru like JVS Rao and a guide like my father who shaped my career. Without a base of classical singing, I would not have been able to make a place for myself in the world of music. Classical music is the basis. This is the path to success in any genre. I must say that classical music is the soul of our culture. Years of rigorous practice, hard work and dedication have made me who I am today. Music without a classical touch is like a body without a soul,” he concludes.
“It’s hard to grow up without
learn classical music
Without the classical vocal training, he would not have reached this stage, says Abhijeet Mishra, one of the most successful singers of this generation.
Abhijeet has also excelled in composing, recording and music programming. That’s not all; he made a name for himself in Mumbai by releasing his Hindi solo albums.
Abhjijeet says he was fascinated by Hindustani classical music from an early age. Recounting those days, the singer says: “Once my father, after returning from a concert in the United States, gave me a Walkman. I was then studying in class V. I also received three cassettes – Gulfam by Hariharan, Insight by Jagjit Singh and a Raga album by Pandit Jasraj. The third fueled my interest in learning classical singing. Also ours had a good collection of tapes of renowned classical singers from India. I was so inclined towards classical music that I used to participate in the annual cultural extravaganza organized by Srjan, a leading dance school in Bhubaneswar, in which many national level classical singers participate. However, I started learning Hindustani Classical from Guru Debendra Narayan Satpathy after appearing for the Class X board exam. All I can say is that classical music is like ABCD in the world of music and that no singer can grow up without learning it.
Abhijeet is known for his recital of Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda following the style of Guru Raghunath Panigrahi. He admits that classical singing separates him from other singers. “It’s true that my classical background has made me a strong contender among the top singers in the industry,” Abhijeet quips.
‘Quit the cushy job, stable life
make a career in music
Aurosis Pani, who is credited with many hit songs like Kene Gheni Jauchha, Bhala Pae Boli, also credits his classical background with helping him create a different identity.
How were you drawn to classical singing? To this question, Aurose answers: “I grew up watching my father, Dr. Chitaranjan Pani, practice classical music. From childhood I was trained by him. So music came naturally to me. At first, I didn’t know the difference between classical singing and other styles. But my father’s interpretation was soothing to my ears. Later I learned that the raga plays a vital role in classical singing and that every human being is attached to the raga. In classical song, there is raga for all emotions, be it anger, happiness or sadness.
Speaking more about the classical singing style, he says, “It’s a meditation. Three things play a very important role in classical singing: dedication, time and patience. It takes years of practice to perfect the skill.
Aurose was a software engineer before embarking on a musical career. In 2016, he left a cushy job and a stable life to devote himself to his passion.
Of her life-changing decision, Aurose says, “I have no regrets about it. After quitting my job, I sat again for the graduation and post-graduation exams in music. Now I am pursuing a doctorate in classical music. Now, I devote all my time to singing even though I know that making a mark in the field is quite difficult. But I believe in myself. All in all it was a nice trip.
Rashmi Rekha Das, op