Rise to the top

Rise to the top
A small-town girl who wowed the audience in ‘Indian Idol’, Antara Mitra is the music industry’s new discovery. The singing sensation talks to Srabanti Chakrabarti about making it big.

You must have have hummed the foot-tapping song ‘Saree Ke Fall Sa...’ from the film R... Rajkumar, or the immensely melodious ‘Bheegi Si Bhaagi Si’ from Rajneeti. 

Did you recognise the lovely voice that made these songs a hit? These songs have become chartbusters because of the sonorous vocals of Antara Mitra, the Bengali beauty with a unique voice, who rose to fame with her performance in Indian Idol Season 2.

Antara is a much-in-demand singer now. 

Quite a quantum leap from her struggling days post Indian Idol. 

The change is visible not just in her confidence and style of singing, but also in her overall appearance. 

Born to sing.

So, how did the journey start? 

The young singer, who hails from West Bengal, takes us on a trip down the memory lane. 

“I was a good student and was considering a career in medicine. But fate had something else in store for me. My childhood was beautiful and musical. I was brought up amidst nature and rural innocence. My father was a music teacher and I started singing along with his students when I was three. I started singing better than students older to me, so the musical inclination was always there.” 

Antara gave her first solo performance at the age of four when she sang the patriotic song ‘Vande Mataram’. 

Right from her school days, Antara would take part in cultural programmes and has won several singing competitions. 

But, how did the move to Mumbai come about? 

Antara explains, “I never thought that I would come to Mumbai to pursue a career in music. I went for the Indian Idol auditions because I was bored of Shakespeare, sonnets etc, and I was looking for an adventure. To my surprise, I got selected and everything changed after that. Although I trained under my father and had learned Carnatic music from Shobhana Mukherjee, it was a major task to convince my family to let me move to Mumbai to pursue a career in music. Eventually, I shifted and started looking for a job. But at the same time, we were getting shows and touring because of Indian Idol, which made my life easy here.”

Antara attributes a large part of her success to Indian Idol. 

She says, “It was a dream come true experience for me. I participated because I wanted to meet singer Sonu Nigam. But I never dreamt of coming so far in the competition. Indian Idol just changed my life.” 

But Antara was sensible enough to realise that a reality show can only give you a platform to showcase your talent, but when you want to explore your avenues as a playback singer in the industry, the struggle is endless.”

She gets excited while talking about her first break, “One day, I met music director Pritam, and he started calling me for dummy scratches. I didn’t know anything about mike singing at a studio. But I managed, and it was only because of Pritamda.”

The big break

Antara’s first major hit was ‘Bheegi Si Bhaagi Si’ from the film Rajneeti and the song was picturised on two superstars — Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. 

Antara says, “I sang this song late at night and was unsure about my voice. I was not sure if it would be chosen for the movie. I just recorded and forgot about it until one morning I woke up to the song I sang. I heard it and was thrilled. I couldn't believe that my song was for Ranbir Kapoor. I adore him so much and here I was singing for him.”

Antara considers music director Pritam as her mentor. 

She explains why, “My association with Pritamda has came a long way. I am sure it will continue like this. I have sang for him in films like Speed (my debut song with Sonu Nigam), All The Best, Golmaal 3, Toh Baat Pakki, Life Partner, Dil Toh Bachha Hai Ji, Rajneeti and R... Rajkumar.
 
Dada is a perfectionist and is focused on what he wants.

He also knows how to extract the best from his singers. I am grateful to Pritamda for giving me some of his best tunes. 

The two songs from R... Rajkumar are best examples of that.”

But what about the other composers? 

Why don’t we hear her singing for the other music directors? “I hope to sing for Vishal Shekhar, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Salim Suleiman.”

Antara is someone who has her competitors as best friends. But does that affect their friendship? 

“Contemporaries like Prajakta Shukre, Mouli Dave, Himani Kapoor and Meenal Jain are my closest friends. I am happy to be in this era of healthy competition, which doesn’t hold any bad blood between people.”

So, what does the future hold for Antara? “I want to cut my own album one day.”  

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