The Year’s Last Loveliest Smile

 

There are these times when you listen to a particular voice and it sounds like an autumn morning. It is sweet, it is earnest, and it is a true-blue. Sanjeeta’s song Menos es Mas reminds me of an autumn morning.

 

Let me tell you, she laughs quite a great deal. When I asked her to say something about herself, the girl laughed and said, “Where do I begin?”. Daughter of well known painter Sanjay Bhattacharya, Sanjeeta was into Kathak ( taught by Pt. Birju Maharaj) and Hindustani Classical (taught by Smt. Sunanda Sharma)  until she finished school. She had to choose between music and dance and as it went, she chose music. I did not ask her why. She went to Berkley College of Music, Boston for her graduation-“you spell Berklee as ‘lee’…(laughs)”. Back in college she was exposed to Balkan music, which would later be the core genre to form her crew known as Voicestra.  However, she decided to come back as she believed that one must give back something to his/her own land, “If you are slightly good at something, you should give it back to where you are from.” And ever since her return last October she has been playing, gigging, composing and travelling quite a lot. It was during one of her gigs in Calcutta that she had come across Friday Night Originals where she was accompanied by Achyuth Jaigopal to record her original number, Menos es Mas.

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Sanjay Bhattacharya, known most for his surrealistic approach in colors, gives his viewer a realistic image of the world surrounding us. I would say so; I might differ from many more. When I asked Sanjeeta what it was like to be the daughter of one of the most wonderful artists of our times, she gladly claimed that it was, “Perfect”. She told me that an artist can understand another artist, and hence, the father and the daughter would go on various trips and exhibitions together. “He is one of the most talented people I know, ever…and I look up to him.”

 

Sanjeeta is a singer who did not confine herself to a single style. Jazz, RnB, Hindustani Classical, Pop, she sings it all. “In every genre, you have so much to learn.” However, she does say that Jazz and RnB are the two genres which are “extremely difficult and extremely fun to sing and play.” She considers Latin Jazz to be the ‘best of all worlds’, “you dance, you sing…”.

 

Sanjeeta is one of the most humble people I have spoken. The pastel faced girl with the lilting voice believes in remaining humble, “You tend to drift from your roots…you gotta be humble and continue learning…you never stop learning, you never stop growing, and you’re never perfect.” She is not a person of multiple plans, “I love focusing my attention at one thing at a time.” She does not like planning things ahead, “because you meet with disappointments.”

 

I am eagerly waiting for her EP release. It is one voice I would possibly listen to on a loop.

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SOMETHING YOU LIKE DOING

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Abhinandan laughed when I asked him about the band’s original composition. “Let’s talk about it fall 2017.” I was curious. I had listened to Jazbah, and yes that was the first song I had listened to. I had to know more.

Initially known as the Cynical Recess, quite a successful band in Calcutta, the band stuck to what the country follows to be main stream. The audience would ask for more of the common music directors. “In a country like India, which is so Bollywood based…people are more into film music.” As he rightly pointed out, the huge industry which drives many of the creative minds has always been a part of the common people’s livelihood. I remember listening to R.D.Burman’s Oh Haseena, and then I heard Abhishek sing it in a back drop of jarring chords. It was refreshing to hear the old song in the new generation’s sound.

SPUNK! began its journey while performing in schools, colleges, and various other festivals. The band was shortlisted for the global band competition Hard Rock Rising and also won Channel [V] Launch Pad in 2012. Their music gives a unique essence to the old Bollywood numbers we all grew up with.  “Hindi music has a more common mass effect”, everyone in one way or more has always related to Bollywood songs. They did what they liked to do. They added their own taste to Bollywood and gave every single cover an edge. The fast tracking sound and the resonating beats bring out the old songs as almost something to step up to for the new generation. And hence that is where the name comes in, “SPUNK!…something that you like doing.”

The band has not yet done any such international shows; however, they have a number of followers across USA, UK, Australia, Bangladesh and many more. In their original score Jazbah, the band paid a humble tribute to the Indian Air Force; their cover of Rahman’s Urvasi is as quick-footed as it could be; their videos are as outlandish as they can get, and they are always great to watch (do watch their official cover of Tum  Kahaan).

The band does not take part in reality shows; they keep things real and genuine. Okay, that sounds odd. What I meant to say was that the band believes that their greatest success is when the audience knows them, listens to them, and understands what they play. Maybe that is what made Abhinandan leave his high profile marketing job and shift all his resources to music. “It is everything to me, it is love, it is life, and it is passion unlimited.”

The band will be covering A.R.Rahman’s Vande Mantaram this Independence Day. “It will be a lot different.” It will have SPUNK!’s unique touch keeping Rahman’s genius composition intact. I am most certainly looking forward to it. However, I am quite sure that those who have been following the band are eagerly awaiting their original scores. All the more reason to look forward to fall 2017, to realize what SPUNK! actually feels like.