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Her timbre voice reverberates long after the rendition stops, transporting you into your imaginary world. That’s the power Meeta Pandit’s voice has.

And why not! Sangeet has been her companion from before she could utter her first words even. Granddaughter and disciple of Padma Bhushan Pt Krishna Rao Shankar, the doyen of north Indian classical music in the 20th century, and the daughter and disciple of legendary Pt L K Pandit, Meeta says,“I began receiving lessons at an age that I cannot recall. We would eat, drink and sleep music.

The conversations over the dining table and over the phone were all related to music. Our house was frequently visited by music pandits, ustads or disciples of my father, his guru bandhus or lovers of music and journalists. No wonder then that I grew up dreaming of becoming an artiste. I knew right from the get-go that I would pursue my passion for singing. Music is my passion. And I am blessed that my passion is my profession.”

Excellence in variety

Her versatility is often talked about. Whether it’s bhajan, Thumri or Tappa or mixing the contemporary with the traditional, she excels in all with élan. She puts that down to her years of hard work and her focus. She believes, “I like to sing different genres like devotional, romantic, thumri, gazal, bollywood. All have a different fragrance, beauty, and all are inspiring. When you like what you do, things become easier than you think. That is why one should listen to one’s heart rather than impose things because of all other reasons.” A food for thought there for all, to not follow the crowd, but do what one likes and wants!

For her, classical music is “no rocket science. All one requires is to develop an ear. Being so rich, it is but natural to attract any good ear. The problem is when opinions are formed without experiencing or making an effort to even hear!” she says ruefully. For one so young, she can be instrumental in drawing the attention of young enthusiasts to the classical music arena, for there is a notion that classical music is for the select few.

She corroborates, “Classical music has always been enjoyed by a niche audience.
You build new listeners when information is available on a common forum, as in newspapers, magazines, in the form of advertisements, write-ups, rather than on specialised channels, magazines etc. We are already experiencing a heterogeneous audience, which proves that audience in general has grown. There are many successful concerts of Indian classical music today all over the country. Younger generation understands that bollywood music cannot be compared with Indian classical music as it holds its own value and beauty. They like classical music, as I have experienced in my interaction with them.”

One way of arousing their interest is fusion, even though there is a danger of our classical music losing its originality. But she avers, “Mixing different genres of music is a different category, and any addition of category is no threat to the original. You only build audience. Any creative art has to stand the test of time.”

Music collaboration

Meeta has successfully collaborated with musicians across the globe, adding on to her already-established repertoire. She says, “I have had the opportunity of working with some wonderful artistes globally. My memorable experience is when I stayed in Paris for three months as an ‘Artist in Residence’ through a special project by the French Embassy in New Delhi. The exposure was an experience of a life time. Most recently, my collaboration album called ‘The Luminance Project’, an Indo-Dutch collaboration, was released.

It’s very heartening to see the acceptance of Indian classical music worldwide. Dhrupad, for example, is highly appreciated in Europe. In fact, for the past 40-50 years, classical music has been getting a lot of exposure on the global forum. Indian music is considered to be the finest form of world music. Indian heritage, music, adhyatma and our culture are already well-respected because of their depth and insight.”

Having won accolades in India and created a niche for herself at a very young age, she has set her eyes on popularising Indian classical music amongst the youth. Her classical music appreciation series, Swar Shringar, on World Space Satellite Radio’s Radio Gandharva was aimed for a lay listener and was hugely popular. She has also presented a classical music appreciation programme on television. The programme, Sunehre Pal, was a part of a popular morning breakfast show called Subaha Savere.

Currently, she is working on an audio-visual documentation project for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts called Masters of Hindustani Classical Music.

She is very hopeful about the future and growth of Indian classical music. She believes, “Classical arts at first need patronage and inclusion in mainstream education. This will remarkably increase awareness about the rich heritage.” Meeta Pandit is a musician to the manor born, and may her tribe increase!

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