Conversations with KAUSHIKI CHAKRABORTY
The Score Magazine|April 2020
Elegance and Musical Musings

A classical performing artist not only needs thorough understanding of the music form, but should also carry a divine aura with their presence and elegance. The combination of musical expertise along with spiritual aura is something quite rare at a scenario when classical music is fading away in the currently paced up lifestyles. Another important aspect of a brilliant classical performer is the constant innovation of performing, and also displaying tremendous control over the rendition. By being so strong in the musical foundations and techniques, along with adding one’s own interpretation of the music form (? ?) One such magical performer is the ever smiling Kaushiki Chakraborty , the daughter of legendary Hindustani exponent Pt. Ajay Chakraborty. Her tremendous balance of singing, experimentation, and understanding of Hindustani classical music is quite exemplary for years to come. She has got admirers all over the for not just her flawless classical renditions but also for her unfaltering smile and presentation skills during the live performances. We bring you an exclusive conversation with the magical performing artist:

Hello Kaushiki.. it’s a pleasure meeting you!

Hi.. Thank you so much.

Who are your earliest influences in music in vocal or instrumental, apart from your father?

Well, I started learning music from my mother when I was a child because my Dad was very busy with his own career development. I had my mom around me spending lot of time. She was a huge admirer of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. As a child, I remember listening to the radio along with my mom. Till date, it is musically perfection personified. I don’t know whether I can call it influence of admiration which I had for their timbre of voices, or their versatility. I haven’t heard any other singer like Asha Bhosle who could own any genre of song. Lataji and Ashaji’s names were regularly heard in my house in childhood. I used to listen to Lata ji’s Bhagavad Gita on cassette, and memorized it like a piece of music.

What are the raags that are yet to be explored by you?

There are many such raags which I am yet to explore. There were certain raags which I haven’t learnt or performed. The other side to it is, I want to revisit the raags which I haven’t focused much on. For example, I have been performing Multani for many years but when I revisit it after long time, a new dimension comes out.

When we revisit a raag which is already known, a new space emerges with such revisiting. If I am asked to sing Multani now, I would never sing it the way I sang fifteen years ago because of the evolution of space. I am finding newer possibilities in the known framework and new way of looking the existing space. Another way of exploring a raag is to learn a new one which I am not familiar with. Jayjawanti was another raag which I learnt many years ago and performed it at my younger days. Recently, I sang it in a show in Gwalior and before it, I was literally living the raag for many months and listening to various artists of the same raag. Understanding a raag from holistic perspective is something which I do. I also intentionally try to practice such raags which my father or Khan Saab haven’t performed. One such raag was Nand, which I didn’t have any perspective or reference.

Do you prefer singing raag of Full scale or pentatonic scale raags are your forte?

I don’t think I look at raags at this perspective- the number of notes in a scale. A raag comes to my mind with a unique personality. On a given day if I feel to interact with that personality, I would approach. Before a performance, a lot of factors come in before I choose a raag- based on the time of the performance. I have been singing for long years and I should also make sure the raags are not repeated in regular festivals. Purely by musical inspiration I go by choosing a raag. A Bhupali or Kalavati might inspire me one day, but some other day Yaman or Bagreshree might be interesting. A raag is a personality to me, like a human. I would not choose interacting with a person based on the physical attributes but it is the personality which influences the decision!

Do you think certain raags are emotionally classified – like sad, devotional or happy?

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