Music is my prayer: Kaushiki Desikan
In the new chapters of Indian classical music being written today, there are quite a few young names who are very ably penning their own successful scripts.
One such name that you are going to hear a lot of in the coming years is Kaushiki Chakrabarty Desikan’s. This Bengali musician,known as Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty’s daughter when she started out— has long broken out of that mould to be recognised today on the merit of her vocal prowess.
From Pune’s Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav to Calcutta’s Dover Lane Music Conference (where she’s a regular) to one-too-many concerts abroad, Kaushiki’s diary of engagements is a busy one. There is a whole lot of thought however that goes behind the concerts she chooses to perform in. “There are certain things I look into before I decide to perform a concert.”Her first priority, she reveals is “checking if there’s a senior performer who wants me to perform at the concert.” A perfect instance of this would be her participation at the Sawai Gandharv 2010. “I got a personal invite from late Pt. Bhimsen Joshi himself to perform at the Sawai Gandharv,” an invitation that she couldn’t and wouldn’t have refused. That she won the audience over is a tale for another day. The other interesting thing that pulls Kaushiki to perform a concert is the city itself. She then throws in a very interesting observation, “I love performing in any city in Maharashtra. Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Sattara and Dharwad in Karnataka…I look forward to performing in these places because they have the best audiences.” She then reiterates something that is so common sense but can’t be stated enough, “For a performing artiste, it is exciting to perform to a sensible audience.”
That small town audiences have a better sensitivity to classical music compared to their distracted-with-too-many options- urban counterparts is very revealing. “It is amazing how sensitive these audiences are to classical music.” And so, while appreciation from aesthetes in Mumbai and other metros is nice, Kaushiki acknowledges that, “When you receive the kind of respect you expect from aware audiences in these unexpected places, it makes your efforts worthwhile.”
As a young musician who set out at the age of 17, Kaushiki savours the success she’s achieved in such a short span. “Nothing succeeds like success,” she chimes, but if there’s any formula to it, she doesn’t subscribe to it. “There’s never a formula for a musician becoming big. Whoever it is, when you go over the course of their life, you realise there’s not a similar thread. The story differs for everyone.” Even as she muses over that thought, she adds, “Of course, unflinching effort, discipline and long practising sessions can never be replaced.” But if there’s anything else an aspiring musician needs to keep in mind to connect with audiences, it is “presentation of the concert. You need to put effort into how you present your music to the audience. They need to enjoy it and connect with it.”
Unflinching efforts, in Kaushiki’s world, means diligently doing her riyaaz daily, despite her new motherhood status and national and international concerts. She says, “I do it everyday, though the time I spent depends on a lot of things like travelling and my baby.” Recalling her early days when she’d practise for eight to nine hours, Kaushiki comments, “I feel disciplined practise for five to six hours for years is required before you even consider becoming a performer.”
Where many a classical vocalist shies away from film music, Kaushiki’s among the few who’ve tested those waters. “I have sung for AR Rahman for Water — Once Upon A Time (directed by Deepa Mehta). I have also sung for a few Bengali films,” she reveals but “its only if a project interests her” that she would face the mike for some playback singing.
Talking about audiences, the 32-year old singer admits to enjoying performing to a demanding audience. “When the audience is asking for something new, it’s like challenging us to put in more efforts into our performances.” The diligent performer that she is, its not surprising that Kaushiki has no superstition or a special prayer she lets out before she gets on stage. “Music is my prayer,” she laughs.
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