With tracks such as Ali more angana, Ab ke sawan and Pyaar ke geet, Shubha Mudgal is popular among listeners from different backgrounds both in India and Bangladesh. The well-known face of Hindustani classical music, Khayal, Thumri, Dadra, and Indian Pop music performed at the Bengal Classical Music Festival in Dhaka today. Dhaka Tribune takes this opportunity to converse with the Padma Shri award winner to learn about her journey.
Is it your first visit to Bangladesh?
Yes, it is.
What is your expectation from the Bengal Classical Music Festival 2015?
I am actually quite amazed to see so many people attend and listen to classical music and stay through the night. There are many traditional festivals in India, for example, the ones in Jalandhar, where thousands of people join the crowd, however, the number of audience here, exceed that of any other place. Also, I often hear that not many people attend such events but this festival proves all of them wrong. The festival takes place in such an enormous and well organised manner that I am delighted to be here and also very nervous to perform in front of so many people. Hope it goes well.
What inspired you to experiment with folk and contemporary Indian pop music?
There may be people in the world who do not like the kind of music that I have composed. And there are some who are not very fond of the popular music I have performed. I was fortunate to have met with musicians who are working with other disciplines. I met some eminent people at studios and during formal introduction we had the chance of sharing what we were working on. One of them approached me and asked me to record a piece. I told them that I had no experience in such music. Yet, I approached the project with nervousness because I was unfamiliar with the genre. However, it gained popularity, by chance I’m guessing (chuckles).
There are many projects that happened and were forgotten. The reason it became popular was due to the debate of whether fusion should take place or that singers from classical music background should be involved with other genres. In this case, I believe that you should do what you enjoy doing the most. There are many musicians today who feel fulfilled by being associated with only classical music, which is wonderful too!
How wise is it to take classical singing as a profession?
I believe that, doing any kind of artistic activity professionally is risky. It’s an adventure that makes you feel very pleasant at times and quite the opposite at other times. For any artist who makes a full-time commitment to any kind of music, be it popular, folk or classical, I think it is still a very difficult task. It requires a certain commitment which is to say: “I shall continue this work through whatever difficulty may come my way.” One needs to be extremely dedicated knowing that only a little or no support may be available. So I think that commitment to music or any kind of artistic activity is required to accomplish something.