Powerhouse performer

Shubha Mudgal is one musician who believes in moving with the times, writes Chethana Dinesh

Shubha Mudgal

Versatility is her middle name, and soulful voice, her unique flavour. Mellifluously traversing between Hindustani classical and pop singing, she has captured many a music lover’s hearts for decades now. That’s Shubha Mudgal. Though her musical journey started with Hindustani classical, she soon branched out to other forms, and the result was foot-tapping numbers like Ab Ke Sawan and Mann Ki Manjeree. A winner of several awards, including the Padma Shri, this eminent singer is a well-known composer, too. Excerpts from an email interview:

What were your initial musical influences?

I grew up in a music-loving home in North India, and since my parents were enthusiastic and committed listeners of Hindustani classical music, it was classical music that was the strongest influence in my life. The folk music of Uttar Pradesh was also a big influence as were forms like qawwali and ghazal.

When did you realise your passion for music?

If you mean to ask when I discovered that music was what I wanted to study, I must confess that it was my mother who seemed to have assessed with that uncanny insight that mothers seem to possess, that music is what made me happiest. And it was with her active encouragement and support that I was able to make a commitment to being a full-time musician.

What about music excites you?

I don’t know, and can’t exactly say what excites me the most. But I do know that the gift of music in my life makes it easier for me to negotiate the ups and downs of life. It really does light up my life in an inexplicable way.

Who has been your musical inspiration?

My gurus of course, but also the many pathbreaking artistes whose musical journeys and brilliance urges students of music like me to try harder to find one’s own voice.

Your initial struggles, if any…

Struggles are always a part and parcel of an artiste’s life. They aren’t there only in the initial years but continue to resurface all along an artiste’s journey. I continue to struggle to find my own voice, as it were. I continue to grapple with the complex vocabulary of raag and taal that I have studied, and these are part of my many struggles. Having said that, I have also been very fortunate to have received unconditional support from my family and from my great gurus.

You have experimented with different genres of music. What do you enjoy most?

I find myself most fluent with the forms known as khayal and thumri-dadra.

What are you most proud of singing?

I think it would be more appropriate to say that I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to study music and to have taken the decision to commit to being a full-time musician.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt from your gurus?

To continue to thirst for knowledge and continue to be a student of music for as long as one lives.

A typical day in the life of Shubha Mudgal…

Lots of music and lots of laughter.

A few words about your venture – www.UnderscoreRecords.com...

It provides a democratic platform for artistes to distribute their work on their own terms and conditions. It is a venture set up by artistes for artistes.

How did your collection of short stories – Looking for Miss Sargam - happen?

I have been writing about Indian music for many years, but this is my first attempt at fiction. I didn’t plan to write fiction, but wrote a story some years ago and followed it up with more stories which were finally published as Looking For Miss Sargam.

So, what next for Shubha Mudgal?

Hopefully, music, music and more music.

 

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