Vocalist Prasant A Samadhar trained famed singers like Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit Singh, but never himself ran for a pure Bollywood playback- singing career.
At 14, he has performed in New Delhi on invitation for both Rajiv Gandhi and R Venkataraman, who were prime minister and president respectively. He received the National Scholarship in Indian Classical Music from the Central Government and later became a scholar at the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy.
Inspired and even tutored by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the singer can perform a heavy raga, a romantic film song and a heavy-duty fusion number, all with equal finesse. He is now teaming up with maestros Girija Devi and Hariharan for a live stage performance.
Excerpts from an nterview:
You have paired up with the sensational Hariharan, what can the audience expect from this jugalbandhi?
Audience will understand the difference between film music, fusion, light classical and classical music, which will be combined for the first time on stage. This will also be a learning session for the youngsters and the aspirants of reality shows. It’s a combination of three generations of singers. We aim to create global unity.
Do you feel the same enthusiasm before your shows now, like you did during your first performance?
It’s more now! It was just a show in the beginning, but now, I am open to creating something new. I am the first singer from Kolkata to change the format of singing in dhoti-kurta to jamming with the guitar, tabla and keyboards.
Who has been your inspiration in this field?
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. I respect him deeply, as he is the only personality who has stuck to just classical music. He has never deviated from his path.
How does it feel to see your students as top singers of the industry?
I am very happy. This responsibility was given to me by Kalyanji (of the Kalyanji - Anandji duo). He asked me to train them since I knew the pulse of 5,000 people. He didn’t want a person in dhoti-kurta to train youngsters.
What are your thoughts on Bollywood music?
People should not think about playback singing first, but learn the art of singing. Singers now only know certain songs. which they download and perform. This in limiting for our music fraternity. Before expecting big results like fame, one must learn and invest in creating something new. Parents often compare music to Goddess Saraswathi, but the training is imparted only during summer holidays! Music has to be a mainstream profession.
You are a singer yourself. What gives you more joy? To see your students bag awards, or when you get one?
I have come a full circle as a singer, having learnt music through guru-sishya parampara (teacher-student tradition). I have performed on stage and now my students are doing the same. This makes me happy.
Actors sometimes lend voices to their own songs. Do you think it’s favourable for the music fraternity?
It’s not okay. The purity or the quality of music will not remain high. People tend to lose respect for music.
Down five years, how do you intend to contribute to the world of music?
I want to create a dream for everyone to become a ‘playfront’ singer. It means aspiring singers should sing for themselves. It should be like “this is you, your song”. I want people to become singers and involve themselves in the creation and innovation of music rather than running after a playback singing career.