Kolkata-based music composer Ananjan Chakraborty merges pop with Thumri through his rendition of Lon
Kolkata-based sound engineer Ananjan Chakraborty comes from a family of musical legends. Born in Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty and younger brother of classical singer Kaushiki Chakraborty, Ananjan however took a less explored approach to music and shaped it into his career. The Digital Academy Mumbai graduate also dons the hat of a music composer and has come up with a new music genre called Electronic Classical Music which was introduced to the world in the presence of Ustad Zakir Hussain. We caught up with the musician at the launch of the Indian mashup cover of Only by Justin Bieber and Benny Bianco. Ananjan gave the pop number a traditional spin with the age-old genre of Thumri. He talks about why he chose a different approach to music, what the future of independent music looks like, and why he wants to work with more budding talent in the near future.
What would you call your first memory of music, bearing in mind that you come from a family of musical maestros?
Honestly, there is no first memory as such because I grew up in an environment that breathes music like air. For me, music has never been a subject to learn, nor to undertake as a profession. Instead, I grew up playing with musical instruments, identifying notes and raagas.
Was there any kind of pressure to meet your father and sister’s reputation growing up?
There was never any pressure from my immediate family as such. Also, there was a time during my teenage years when my voice was badly affected by a throat infection and I couldn’t follow the notes because my voice was breaking. It affected my confidence.
However, having been exposed to many genres of music while growing up that is not limited to Hindustani classical, made me understand musical compositions. That’s why I deliberately chose to become a composer and music engineer. Even as a composer, it would have been easier for me to pursue commercial music due to my legacy connection, but I prefer to promote independent music because I think there is very little platform offered to independent artists. locals, especially in Bengal. When it comes to sound engineering, very few people here understand the importance of practice. What I do is as musical as what my dad does, it’s just that making my own music gives me the satisfaction that commercial music doesn’t have so there’s no room for comparison.
Why do you think independent talents don’t have the same momentum as in Bengal?
Well, for a fact, Bengali platforms and producers are not very supportive of the independent music scene. In a world dominated by views and likes on social media platforms, even producers are looking to do something that will add to their business through YouTube views. It makes our local music scene less experimental. We need to look beyond our peripheries and take inspiration from Music Mojo down South or Coke Studio Pakistan where independent artists are given the platform to come up with originals when most of us only resort to to remakes and remixes. In fact, the majority of Indian platforms are only driven by hobbies.
You tried to merge Thumri with Pop in your Lonely mashup. What particularly prompted you to choose these genres?
I was never limited to listening to one genre of music growing up. I grew up appreciating Raag Khamaj as much as Mozart’s Fantasia in D minor. I believe that music is a means of expression that evokes similar emotions in different languages. Listening to Justin Bieber Only, I found a striking similarity in its melody to our own Raag Kaushik. I also felt whatever the words of Only are trying to convey, something that can also be unearthed through the intricacies of a Thumri that I heard my sister hum.
This may be an unconventional approach for many, but I really don’t understand the demarcation we create between different genres. There’s no point hating Anjan Dutta if you like Rabindra Sangeet, or hating Nachiketa if you like Nazrul Geeti. Music has its own language that crosses time, nationalities and languages. I think Bengal is the only place that is still extremely rigid in terms of music. We must eliminate preconceived prejudices and open new doors to accept new music and new artists.
What do you think the musical future of Bengal looks like?
The future looks truly amazing. There are a lot of students and artists who really have great musical potential, but it’s up to us to provide them with a better platform.
What’s next on your list?
I recently worked on a project with Pratibha Singh Patil which is slated for release in August. We are trying to distribute the video via the YouTube channel of the composer duo Salim-Sulaiman. I also intend to collaborate with my father because our musical institution Shrutinandan is about to end its twenty-five years. This will be the first time that Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty will lend his voice to a tune composed by me. I also plan to do an electronic album by Rabindra Sangeet.