Interview Of The Week: Abhradita Banerjee Sings Some New Notes
Abhradita Banerjee talks to Yentha about her musical life and newly formed band ‘Srishti’ | By Renju
On Sep 27, 2011




Hindustani vocalist Abhradita Banerjee recently presented a new age musical form named ‘Srishti’ at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan Trivandrum.  A big change from typical fusion music, Srishti  proved how western and Hindustani music beautifully synchronise with each other.  She shares with Yentha, her thoughts behind ‘Srishti’ and her chosen career path.

Such is her passion for music that hearing her talk about music, raga, thala, and the devotion behind its ‘aalap’ would inspire anybody to want to hear the musical form at least once in life.

She first explains how music became her profession. “Though a Bengali, I was born and brought up in Raipur, where my father worked.” Her musical credentials are quite impressive.  “I learned music systematically through the guru Shikshya Parambara  and have taken Sangeeth Visharad, Madhyana in Tabla from Indira Sangeet Kala Viswavidyalaya, MP, Master in Music from Indira Kala Vishwavidyalaya and qualified for UGC-NET in Music. My father sings well and my aunt also learned music, but I am the only one who took to music as a career.”

She continues, “I started learning music at the age of 6. My first performance was at the age of 8 when I  was in 3rd standard. It was just a small function where my father insisted me to sing.  After my performance there, people started to appreciate me and one of my aunts suggested that I train under a Guru. My first Guru was Sumathi Rajimwale.

It was when she was in the 6th standard that she met  Ustad Kale Khan’s disciple Pandit Madan Chauhan. this became a turning point which molded Abhradita’s musical life.  

It was not all smooth sailing as Abhradita’s musical career went through several highs and lows.  The first blow came when her father passed away when she was in 8th  standard.  She recalls the unfortunate, “In that shock I stopped singing. My silence continued for one year. During that period, Pandit Madan Chauhan visited me several times and counseled me.  In October 1988, he told me about the music  competition being conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Government With the support of Guruji, my brother and school teachers I sang a bhajan there. I was the youngest participant and was chosen as one among the four winners.  This award, now named after Latha Mankeshkar help me to enter AIR as a Grade B  artist although I had participated in programmes of AIR and Doordharshan earlier.”

This award promoted her growth as a musician and she started performing actively.  Abhradita also tried other musical forms like Ghazal, semi classical and Raveendra Sangeeth. At the age of 19, she emerged the winner in the national level Ghazal  competition conducted by AIR.

About her singing style she says, “When I sing, I am very much involved in the lyrics and express emotion through my rendering of the words. I express raga with the rasa of Bhakthi Shringaram. Before singing I also give a small introduction about the song to the audience so that they can appreciate the emotion behind it. People have told me how much they have enjoyed the song better because of that.”

Abhradita has performed in more than 650 concerts. In Kerala alone she has performed more than 150 solo concerts in the cities of Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Kochi, Pallakad, Thrissur, Calicut andTirur. She has also been a jury member in many cultural events and reality shows.

Abhradita moved to Kerala when her husband Dr.Moinak Banarjee, a Scientist joined the Rajeev Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in 1996.  She has two sons Aryamaan and Shourya. She says, “I have spent 15 years in Kerala. Since my family is my priority, I only do programmes that can be adjusted around them.I am running an institution named Mukthagan here where I teach  40 students in the age group of 5 to 75. Older people are taking music lessons for stress relief and peace of mind. I am also the Principal of Natyaveda Music college, TVM, and serve as guest faculty in Kerala University’s Department of Music.” 

Abhradita has been toying around with the idea of ‘Shristi’, for the past two years, but was able to actualize it within a matter of two months.  Her concerts were organised by the Kerala Bhasha Institute and the Sangeeta Nataka Academi in Vyloppilly Sanskriti Bhavan. Rahul, who support the team on the base guitar says, “The musical group was formed unexpectedly and was a very novel idea. I wondered if it was possible to merge Hindustani music with base guitar. The first two days of  practice were very tough. Then it start to get synchronized and fter the programme, everybody appreciated it.”

As we talk,  ‘Srishti’ members drop in to  discuss future programmes and their teacher Abhradita is very  happy to see them. On a parting note, she says,   “I wish to save traditional music. People think that learning classical music takes a long time and so avoid it.  Through Srishti, I hope to make classical music accessible to everybody. The fact is that if you learn Indian music, learning any other music will be very easy for you.”


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