Leaning on their classical background, singers Shrradha Pandit and Rupali Dalal are seeking a foothold in popular genres, writes Utpal Borpujari
Two singers, young and vivacious and with the weight of two prestigious Indian classical music gharanas behind them, have just set out to chart their individual careers outside their traditional domains. But the similar approach of presenting an eclectic mix of music in their individual debut albums to demonstrate their artistic capabilities is where the similarity between Shrradha Pandit and Rupali Dalal ends.
Shrradha, hailing from the Mewati gharana and trained first by her grandfather Sangeet Acharya Pandit Pratap Narayanji and now by her father, tabla exponent Shri Vishwaraj Pandit, , is almost a veteran in playback singing, having started when she was just 16. But her heart seems to be keener to beat as a music composer’s than that of just a singer, even though many of her songs have become hits. And she is clearly working in that direction, preferring to compose the tunes for her first individual album Teri Heer (Sony BMG). Kirana gharana exponent Rupali, on the other hand, is just testing the waters in the highly-competitive world of private albums through Badra (Times Music), choosing to just concentrate on singing tunes composed by others, in this case by Sanjeev Darshan.
“Yes, I want to be known as both a singer and a composer, though I am aware it is extremely tough for girls in the almost male domain of composing for films. And I hope my album will help me break that barrier that has been breached successfully till now only by Usha Khanna,” says Shrradha, whose first brush with success had come when she had sung Mausam Ke Sargam Ko Sun and Gaate The Pehle Akele with Kavitha Krishnamurthy in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi – The Musical. Since then, she has sung in films like Sangharsh, Khoobsurat, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai, Haasil, Raju Chacha, Black & White and many more, sharing the microphone with veterans like A R Rahman, Udit Narayan, Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Sukhwinder Singh and Shankar Mahadevan.
Shrradha was goaded by Rahman to take up music direction after hearing her tunes done for a talent hunt show. “So, I wrote lyrics for an album, though I never thought I would end up composing the whole album. Rahman told me to be able to compose is a gift not everyone possesses,” says the singer, whose younger sister Shweta Pandit too has emerged as a name to reckon with in the last few years.
But while she has sung the songs in the album, Shrradha, niece of famed composers Jatin and Lalit, is more eager to tell one and all that she has dabbled with Indian melodies, rock, hip hop, etc., while composing the pieces. “I have blended a lot of sounds – from classical to hip hop to rock – in my album so that it becomes commercially viable and also help me get noticed in the industry as a composer,” says the singer.
For Rupali, however, the goals are slightly different. She is concentrating totally on singing, giving classical performances in various countries even while testing the waters in modern genres. As she says, “Badra is an attempt to reach the masses, especially the youngsters.” The songs in the album, the sister of noted singer Sonali Rathod infoms us, are a blend of classical music fused with contemporary melodies. “The album signifies the love which unfolds between two lovers, longing for each other’s presence. It incorporates music from different genres starting from rhythmic Arabic influences to soulful, full throated Rajasthani folk,” she says.
Unlike Shrradha, Rupali has got the music for her album composed by Sanjeev Darshan with Sameer penning the lyrics. “Being an exponent of renowned Kirana gharana, to which Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai Hangal belong, I have treated classical ragas with modern techniques to make them listener friendly. We have also used classical instruments like Sarangi, Flute, Sarod and Sitar to keep the classical base,” explains the singer who has trained under the likes of Ustad Niaz Ahemad Khan, Ustad Shahid Pervez Khan and Pandit Murli Manohar Shukla. But yes, the approach may be different, but both agree on one thing – the goal is the same, and that is to achieve musical excellence.