'Challenges have made my journey interesting'

Folksinger

'Challenges have made my journey interesting'

The multilingual singer who is much loved in the north and the northeast part of India has rendered her voice to popular Bollywood songs like ‘Gandi Baat’ from the movie ‘R... Rajkumar’ and ‘O Re Kaharo’ from the film Begum Jaan.

Over the years, Kalpana has carved a place for herself in the industry. Her effort to revive, study, archive and reintroduce some extinct and intangible traditional and tribal folk music has been much appreciated among musicians across the globe.

In a chat with Surupasree Sarmmah, the celebrated singer talks about her musical journey.

You are synonymous with folk and playback music in North and Northeast India. How does it feel?

I come from Assam and have worked with the intangible folk elements of the state.

However, I am popular with the music lovers in the Cow Belt region of India. It is, in fact, a proud feeling. Our country is known for its unity in diversity and I feel accomplished that not just in my own state, people from different culture and states, appreciate my work.

Tell us about your unusual approach to music -- the cultural and linguistic diversity...

My father, Bipin Patowary, who is also a folk singer in Assam, has been my greatest inspiration. My training in ‘kamrupiya’ and ‘goalporiya’, two popular elements of Assamese folk music started when I was four-years-old by him. I have never differentiated in my approach to music from any region and social hierarchy.

I have been open to singing in different kinds of songs be it in Bengali, Bhojpuri, Marathi Rajasthani or Tamil. All these different languages, cultures and the music that I was coming across, opened a whole new world for me. Over the years, I started learning not just music specific to a region but also imbibed the culture. 

You have been archiving and documenting a few endangered indigenous Indian language - tell us about it?

There are many dialects in Assam that are slowly becoming endangered. This is also common in other places, seeing which, I made it a point to work on giving these dialects a new lease of life through music. As of today, I have worked in 30 Indian dialects and languages. My plan is to archive these intangible folks for me and my future generation.

Who has been your inspiration?

Bhupen Hazarika and Bhikhari Thakur. Their songs have always managed to reflect and touch upon the wrongs happening in the society.  

How challenging has been your journey been so far?

There have been a lot of challenges that I have faced all these years. But these challenges have made my journey interesting and worth remembering. Pronunciation of specific words in a language is the biggest problem I have faced but I have always gone back to people who have vast knowledge about that particular language. This makes it easier for me to grasp it better.  

Singers you love listening to...

Arijit Singh, Bhupen Hazarika and Teejan Bai. 

 

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