She claimed to understand Bengali but also highlighted on the fact that she is yet to learn the language properly. She is none other than ace singer Rekha Bhardwaj who was in the city for the release of her first album on Tagore songs titled Tagore & We 3. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent caught up with the talented singer.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana- You mentioned that you are yet to master the art of speaking Bengali and yet you managed to sing songs in Bengali. How did you do that?
Rekha Bhardwaj- (laughs) Well, I have my sources you see!! Firstly I have a guitarist who plays with me who is a Bengali. I took advices from him for improving my diction and pronunciation of Bengali words. Had this not been recorded, my pronouncing the words in a wrong way would not have mattered much. But when I am recording something, it has archival value and hence it must be done correctly. Apart from his help, I also listened to the songs sung by Srabani Sen on You Tube. That also helped me a lot in preparing me to sing Tagore songs for this album.
How did you come across Srabani Sen’s songs? What aspect of her songs attracted you so much?
Rekha Bhardwaj- I used to listen to her songs even before I started my work on this album. How I finally became her fan is a different story. After listening to the rendition of Tagore songs by different artists I liked the way she presented the songs. Her voice texture, her way of expressing the lyrics and the deep haunting melancholy in her voice all attracted me very much. We will all have to agree that melancholy is something which has an important position in music. We may enjoy happy or rock songs, but the songs on melancholy touch our hearts more. Hence, I came to know about her and I am extremely pleased to have had worked with her on this album.
Speaking about Tagore songs, you must have some favorite songs of the Bard which you love to listen to. Which songs are they?
Rekha Bhardwaj- “Aha tomar songe” is my favorite song from this album. Apart from this album, I love to listen to “Darie acho tumi amar gaaner opare”, “Sokhi Bhabona kahare bole” and “Megher pore megh”. I have listened to Megher pore megh by Sraboni Sen over fifty times. What a wonderful song!!
Quite an obvious question you might say- what are the literary works of Tagore have you read?
Rekha Bhardwaj- Yes, I have been fortunate to read some of his works as they were part of my school curriculum. Kabuliwala is one book which I have read many times over. We have also been singing Janagana Mana from our childhood days. Taser Desh is another of his work which is extremely inspirational and motivational. I sang the songs of this play at a function in Bal Bhavan Society in Delhi. Tagore is one person whom every Indian is aware of more or less in some way or the other. One thing that I will like to add is that it is with age that you actually grasp the meaning of the words written by Tagore. This is the reason why I like to mention Gulzar saab who made us even more aware of the contributions of Tagore.
Since Biswa Bharati has removed the copyright tag on Tagore’s work, do you feel that this has been the right decision?
Rekha Bhardwaj- Yes, this is indeed a good decision. Tagore was born in Kolkata but he belonged to India and also to the whole world. You cannot limit the works of such a great person. He is the pride of the country and I am glad I am an Indian. To be born in the same country where such eminent personalities were born is a huge honor for me.
Your Bengali connection has grown stronger with this album, I assume Rekha Ji.
Rekha Bhardwaj- Rightly pointed out (laughs out loud). When I was growing up in Delhi, the locality we used to live in had many Bengali families. As a result of which we celebrated Durga Puja more than we celebrated Diwali. The habit of wearing Bindi also came from that association. I still remember two children Muni and Ratna used to come from Kolkata at the home of a Bengali neighbor. Ratna used to learn Rabindrasangeet and Nazrul geeti. I was about five or six years and it was from then that I was exposed to Rabindranath Tagore and his works.
So when are you planning your next Bengali album?
Rekha Bhardwaj- It all depends on the way this album is accepted by the audience. I know there will be pronunciation issues but I have tried my best. Hope the people will like that. But I promise to learn the language by the next time I visit Kolkata.
We too hope the same Rekha Ji!! Keep singing great songs and mesmerize us with your soulful voice.
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.