Wedded to Music – the Srijani-Abhijit story

Srijani and Abhijit Dan b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic Courtesy: Rahul Ganguly Photography

 

By Kersi Meher-Homji

What can one write about Avijit Sarkar which music lovers in Australia and India do not know about? Apart from being a noted singer, musician and director of Natraj Academy he is an expert in many faculties; arts, science, mathematics, literature (being the editor of e-magazine The Mind Creative), painter, actor, puppeteer, cartoonist… you name it. He must be one of the most versatile personalities in the southern hemisphere.

He has given over 1700 concerts for charities and I must have attended over twenty of them, returning home every time humming songs rendered by him and his team. Recently he paid tribute to the erratic musical genius Madan Mohan.

Madan Mohan’s melodies were sung by Avijit himself, Pushpa Jagdish, Sadiq Rehmani and Srijani Dan – all the singers accompanied by the Tabla expert Abhijit Dan. As I have already interviewed Avijit, Pushpa and Sadiq for The Indian Down Under, I decided to interview Srijani Dan and her husband Abhijit.

Kersi Meher-Homji - Srijani Dan s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic Courtesy: Memories 4 Ever Photography

First, Q & A session with singer Srijani

I believe you started learning music when you were four taking lessons from your mother and later from Guru Imam Ghulam. How many albums have you released in India and in Australia?

Srijani: Yes I have taken pure Hindusthani Classical lessons from Guru Imam Ghulam of Prayag/Allahabad Gharana. I also learnt from Najrul Geeti and modern songs from Debasis Bannerjee of Kolkata. Later on I took extensive training in Thumris and Bhajans from Esha Bandopadhyay in Kolkata. I have recorded for a few series of devotional songs for Sathya Sai Organisation in India. I have also recorded a few private albums and am currently recording a few more.

 You have a unique style of singing? Who are your favourite singers?

 

Firstly, as a singer I am glad to know that my singing style has been recognised as “unique” by the audiences. Many singers have inspired me but I never wanted to copy anyone.

It is hard to name favourites as our industry has so many gifted singers but I always loved Lata ji’s and Geeta ji’s melodious voice, Asha Ji’s versatility and I love listening to Shreya Ghosal and Sunidhi Chauhan. I would also like to mention that for the past few years Kaushiki Chakravarty’s singing style and the purity of her voice has inspired me.

When did you arrive in Sydney?

I am from Bardhaman, about 100 km north-west of Kolkata. I came to Australia in September 2006.

How many concerts have you given in Sydney? Is it always with Avijit?

Stage has been a part of my life since I was in Kindergarten. I participated in almost every musical event in my school. Later on I was very popular in my college for singing and continued doing shows professionally in various cities of India.

When it comes to live performances in Sydney I am not regular for various reasons. One of them is my family commitment especially with my six year old son. The other thing is that I’m a bit choosy when it comes to performances these days. I have done more than 100 concerts in the last nine years of my stay in Australia. Yes, Most of my concerts have been with Avijit Sarkar.

Your profession?

I have done Masters in Accountancy in Australia. Back in India I did my graduation in English literature. Now I am an accountant by profession.

Any other hobby?

I love painting and reading.

When and where did you first meet Abhijit?

I met Abhijit in my hometown and got married in 2005.

Is your son interested in Indian music?

My six year old son loves music. I remember when he was young the only thing that could stop him from crying was music. Lately he tries to play beats on random things when I sing at home and he also loves to sing. I often hear him humming while he is playing.

Anything else to share with the readers of The Indian Down Under?

I would like to thank all the readers for taking out time and reading my interview. I am grateful to The Indian Down Under for considering me for an interview and share my thoughts and views and my journey as a musician.

Kersi Meher-Homji - Abhijit Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic Courtesy: Newakiran

Now, Q & A with tabla guru Abhijit

Who inspired you to be a tabla player?

Initially when I started playing tabla at the age of five there was no one who kind of inspired me but I was always playing beats on random things spontaneously and my parents identified it and put me into formal tabla training. However, there have been phases when cricket and other crafts would interest me more than tabla. But with time I got inspired by many tabla maestros and finally ended up loving the typical style of my guru Pandit Swapan Choudhury and tried to follow him closely.

Any music in family?

Interestingly, no one in my family was into music as such. It was me and my sisters who were first to get exposure to this trend.
Being a Bengali it was kind of mandatory that we get involved in some form of creative art and that’s how my sister started taking vocal lessons. She used to take lessons at home from her music teacher and I would start playing beats on odd things such as a box or even on a pillow. My music teacher noticed that and suggested to my parents to arrange for tabla coaching although I was very young.

My first guru was Late Harihar Das of Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh. I was awarded Sangeet Bhushan in 1993. The next year I started taking extensive lessons from tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Choudhury of Lucknow Gharanna.

In 2000 I got interested in experimenting with many forms of music, especially fusion. I also started playing tabla for commercial songs in concerts and live recordings. I came to Australia in 2006 and have been able to keep music in my life on a regular basis.

Which part of India do you come from?

My hometown is Burdwan a very culturally rich town. It is 90 kms from Kolkata.

When did you perform in radio and TV?
From memory I believe it was in 1985. I was 8 years old and it was a children’s program on radio. Since then I have actively participated in such shows several times and other competitions organised by Kolkata radio. Since 2001 I have accompanied several artists and have done quite a few recordings for many Bengali TV channels in Kolkata.

When did you arrive in Australia? And your progress since then?

After arriving in Sydney in 2006 I was not in regular touch with music initially due to various reasons. Then gradually from different sources I met couple of Australians who were in Indian classical music and I started playing pure classical and fusion music with them at different places including restaurants, street fairs and Tafe college. Fortunately, I got chance to play with some exceptional classical instrumentalists and vocalists from India. One day I received an invitation to accompany sitarist Pt Partha Basu from India for Canberra Multicultural festival. Later on I came to know that Adrien McNeil (Australian Sarod Player) had suggested my name. I also got in touch with Avijit  Sarkar, director of Natraj Academy through one of my students and got introduced to a bigger Indian community and a very appreciative audience of Indian music.

How many concert have you given in Sydney and other cities?

I have done about 600 live concerts across Australia from pure classical to fusion music, light music including Bollywood. I am musically involved with Avijit Sarkar on a regular basis and also teach in his academy.

Any albums?

I am not a formal composer but I do not restrict myself in just playing tabla. I also tried my hands in composing. So far I have done three proper albums including semi classical, bhajan and modern songs and few jingles. I am working on two albums now.
Your profession?

I am an account by profession. I have done Masters in Accounting and took up doing CPA in Australia but musical commitments have not allowed me to finish the last few papers.

Good luck to you both, Abhijit and Srijani, and your son too!

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Posted by on May 27 2015. Filed under Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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