Kaushiki Chakraborty who defines music as "a mode of my life", is here in the national Capital today to perform at the 20th edition of 'Parampara series' (National Festival of Dance and Music) at Kamani auditorium.
Excerpts from an interview with the humble torchbearer of Patiala tradition:
Please tell us about your music group 'Sakhi'.
'Sakhi' is actually a one of its kind of an all women's musical ensemble. 'Sakhi' is different because of the purpose behind it is to celebrate different aspects of womanhood.
It is the only musical ensemble irrespective of men or women, which has vocal music, instrumental music, percussion and dance all incorporated in the same group. The definition of music does include dance in it, but in the regular sense of the term, we always say music and dance, where dance is excluded. In this effort we have tried to include dance once again. I have been very lucky to get the other musicians join me and 'Sakhi', and the feedback I have received has been very overwhelming because it has been only one and a half year since 'Sakhi's inception. We are working on our first album which will be in the audio visual format. We plan to launch it by the end of this year.
You have been acclaimed as the torchbearer of the Patiala tradition for your breathtaking performances. What is your take on that?
I am honoured to be cited as even one of the representatives of this amazing style of music for a few reasons- firstly I think it is one of the most versatile singing styles of classical music, secondly, I had worshipped the musicians who had established this musical style – Bare Gulam Ali Khan saab, Ustad Barkat Ali Khan saab, my father (Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty) and Munawar Ali Khan saab, my father's guru– I have grown up with these names and have been mesmerised by their music. To be cited as one who represents this musical style and getting the acceptance from people is a huge compliment in itself. Predominantly this singing style has been very male oriented. It is a style which has been established, propagated and perfected by mostly male musicians. When this happens the style carries a masculine element in it. We have very few female musicians associated with this style. Hence there is another responsibility to merge the masculine style with the feminine subtlety, which I have been trying to do. The balance of the two elements which are apparently very contradictory are also very complementary to each other, that is what makes life so beautiful. This is the reason why I try bringing these two elements together to make it more versatile and beautiful.
Please tell us about your childhood.
Most of my childhood memories are associated with music. I did not have a regular childhood in that sense since my childhood had been quite focused, music oriented and very demanding in terms of music. Time management had been a very difficult task for me. Most of the people who had started working in their field form an early age, did not have a very easy and chilled out childhood. I am one of them. I might have missed out on lots of partying around with friends, and movies but in the end it paid off for what I had done. I had a very disciplined and focus childhood, I did not have any hobby other than music. It was never a conscious choice to be a singer, but given a choice, being associated with music was always the most obvious and natural thing for me. My life happened because music chose me, since this is what I was meant to be.
Who are your favourite singers?
I would try to mention some names from my very long list of some amazing singers – Bare Gulam Ali Khan saab, Ustad Barkat Ali Khan saab, Rashid Khan and of course Parveen Sultana ji. From Bollywood I love Lata ji, Asha ji, Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi and Shankar Mahadevan– one of the most versatile singers. Among my contemporary singers my favourites are Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan and of course Arijit Singh. This entire generation makes a promise to give some great music.
You have also sung for Tamil movies. Was it challenging to sing in a different language?
It was not challenging... I think when you are singing in a language that you are comfortable with, you do not have to worry about the diction, enunciation and meaning. But when you are singing in a different language you have to be careful with the pronunciation and diction as you are singing for an audience who understands that language. You cannot go wrong there. I believe, as musicians, we are great mimics! The process of learning music is so much oral, that if you are told something you are supposed to pick it up from what you hear. That makes it a little easier for us to get the sound of a language. You only have to understand the meaning of the words and the basic emotion of the song in a different language.
Tell us something about your upcoming performance...
This is the first time I am singing solo for them (Parampara), earlier I had performed a duet with my father many years back. I respect Raja and Radha Reddy ji, and Kaushalya Reddy ji a lot and by continuing this festival I think they are doing a great service in propagating music. Over the years I have noticed the Delhi audience's taste for music developing and their love for music increasing in great numbers and quality. A very positive thing for any city is that the younger audience is growing. That is the best news for any craft. If there are more youngsters interested in a craft it is the only way one can make sure that the craft will enhance, survive and develop. I hope we have more and more festivals and concerts like 'Parampara'.
What would be your message to youngsters aspiring to take music up as a profession?
With changing time the promises are increasing. 15-20 years back music as a career option was less promising since very few youngsters were listening to classical music. But now due to the digital platform a lot of young people are interested in classical music. With collaborations there will be more opportunities for youngsters to experiment beyond their traditional boundaries. With all my best wishes I would request them to be responsible and serious in their pursuit of doing something great in classical music.