‘Indian classical music never needed publicity,’ says singer Pratibha Singh Baghel
Raj Yadav

Pratibha won the Lata Mangeshkar Alankaran Award in 2008, and was one of the top finalists of the music reality show, SaReGaMaPa Challenge in 2009. Besides, she was also the winner of Shankar Mahadevan Gharana. In an exclusive interview to Cinema Journal, she talks about her latest tie-up with South Asian music channel, Sufiscore, to launch a non-filmy album Bole Naina, Silences Speak with lyrics by Gulzar, rhythm by Ustad Zakir Hussain and music by composer and violinist, Deepak Pandit. Excerpts:

Tell us about your latest collaboration with Sufiscore.

This album titled Bole Naina, Silences Speak is a thumri and a ghazal album. Sufiscore is the best platform to portray independent music in the country, right now. They give you a lot of liberty in terms of creativity, which is vital for any person in this industry. This is the best thing that has happened to the music industry in a long time.

As an artiste do you rely on film music solely for work? Why?

No artiste should limit himself/herself to film music or any particular school of music, for that matter. You can achieve from anywhere you want to. That is why I don’t rely on film music alone because that will only limit my creativity. Music in any form is staple for me.

The independent music scene in India is still quite immature. Your take?

I don’t quite agree to this because the scenario is changing. Our album Bole Naina, Silences Speak has made a major impact. It is a completely independent album in the Indian classical music scene. So, keeping this progress in mind, I feel that day is not far when the Indian audience will appreciate independent music as much as they appreciate film music. I’m sure that we will get there soon.

Do you think Indian classical music is at its height of popularity now?

Indian classical music never needed any kind of publicity to promote it. It was always very popular and also ahead of its times. It was always talked about, globally. Our maestros such as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Ravi Shankar and others have made Indian classic music popular in the West. As a musician, I feel lucky that I have an opportunity to carry forward this legacy.

How did you get this project? How was the experience of working with Zakir Hussain and Gulzar sahab?

Renowned violinist Deepak Pandit ji actually got me on board, so that I could be part of this project. It was like a dream come true for me. Working with them is a different thing altogether. I have learnt a lot from these maestros while working together.

Has Bollywood failed Indian classical music?

What Bollywood churns out on a daily basis is a mix of various genres of music. So, it has not failed classical music. Rather, it has experimented with several genres. The music scene is definitely more difficult now than it was in the yesteryears. However, I hope that things will be better soon.

There has been a lot of speculation about older artistes not introducing fresh talents due to insecurities. Have you faced any of that? How have you navigated your path through it all?

No, these things don’t really exist anymore. Talent can neither be hidden, nor suppressed. However, talent has to be blended with devotion, hard work and dedication to earn successes in life. With all these in right proportions, nobody can stop you from achieving your goal. There is a certain way that the industry functions here, not just here but in every field per se and it is important to know how to make one's way through that. My seniors in this industry have always supported and encouraged me. I don’t ponder over setbacks. If something does not work out, I move on to the next assignment.

What advice would you give to upcoming independent musicians?

As an independent musician, I would request all upcoming talents to never take rejections seriously. Everyone must take strength from positive experiences and keep working hard as that’s the key to success.

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