AMDAVADIS ARE TRULY CONNECTED TO MUSIC

Says singer Sona Mohapatra, who will perform at the Times Ahmedabad Festival today

Sona Mohapatra who will evening perform at the Times Ahmedabad Festival this at Vastrapur Amphitheatre, opens up about performing in the city, making a style statement and more in a chat with Ahmedabad Times.Excerpts:You've performed in Ahmedabad before. How's the experience been?
Performing in Ahmedabad has been fabulous. My last concert came out to be a big surprise as a huge number of people turned up, which was beyond the expectations of the organisers considering that I am not the conventional mainstream Bollywood artiste and my repertoire hasn't got TV airplay to justify such numbers, or so they might have felt. It was the best gift Ahmedabad could have given me. It made me realize that the youth here are truly connected to music of all kinds and have a deep love for artistes who have a life outside of films.
What does your association with Times Of India and the Times Ahmedabad Festival mean to you?
It is an opportunity to make a cultural impact and play to a genuine music loving audience.I am counting on this to trigger collaborations with local artistes in the city too. Art and aesthetics should be at the top of the mind for the youth to be able to re-energize and evolve their minds and souls. And this is what this association is about. I believe that originality and innovation in all domains would benefit. Just malls and multiplexes cannot be the start and finish to our entertainment and mental stimulation.
Even after a number of Bollywood hits, you continue doing music in other forms including indie albums, collaborations and more.How does it help you as a singer?
Living a life, traveling and meeting people is crucial for an artiste. Every experience informs my work. It helps me pick the stories that I end up telling consistently, be it via music, performance, social media or even the way I dress.While craft, technique and my training as a singer is a definite foundation, the rest of it plays just as important a role in offering some thing special to my audiences. The soul in my singing comes from me engaging with the environment, be it social, political or otherwise.Putting out original music lets me show case my personality and life; one that is not restricted by the context of a film and its characters. It is truly liberating and thankfully my audience gets that.
Although, you've done a variety of work, Ambarsariya is the one which is mostly associated with you. Do you think singers get caught within their most popular songs with their other material taking a backseat?
That might be the case, especially with the media, but if your most popular songs are a reflection of your taste and in complete sync with the rest of your repertoire like Ambarsariya is, it's merely another dot that connects.For the genuine music lover, and there are many in India, my Abhi Nahin Ana is just as loved and requested for in concerts, radio shows and wherever I go .
Is it important to be associated with Bollywood to gain popularity or can you achieve similar feat with your indie endeavors as well?
Today, both aspects of your artistry feed off each other.
Nothing can compare to the challenge, the high, the immediate love and gratifi cation that a live stage pro vides and I live for this.
Having said that, playback is a means to this very end.
Having songs in films helps achieve the biggest reach and more importantly eases out the worries of the show organizers. In a young country like India, there is hardly any infra structure, venues, govern ment or corporate grants to support and encourage live music and culture.
Organizers are able to achieve a better sell-in with sponsors and the logistics of a 10-member team like mine, which eases out if you have reached out to the lowest common denomina tor via films. My repertoire on stage is dominated by my own material and I am fortunate that my film repertoire is also in sync with the same genres, roots music, and folk styles like the thumri ang, mixed with a gypsy spirit. So, it all comes together as a coherent artist voice and not like a schizophrenic suffering from a multiple personality disorder.
You are also one of those few singers, who carry their own fashion style. Is it a conscious effort or does it come naturally?
I see clothes as a means to expressing myself and telling a story just as I would with a song. I also love designs that celebrate local workmanship and textiles. It gives me a high to be showcasing Amdavadi homegrown labels and Gujarati silver jewelry in today's concert as an ode to the city . Dressing up generically is a depressing idea to me. I do not follow trends, will not ape the west, like celebrating my roots, my love for good food and therefore my Indian figure with all its curves!



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