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Tech-head and aspiring music moghul — not quite the Shreya Ghoshal one expects!

Shreya Ghoshal was in town on Monday to launch her Puja album, Monkemoner Station, a compilation of modern Bengali songs composed by Joy Sarkar and penned by Sreejato. The album has been produced by Asha Audio Company. From apps to kitchen mishaps, the PYT got talking to t2 before the launch.

How did Monkemoner Station come into being?

I wanted to break into non-film music for a long time. And I thought why not start with Bengali music. I had worked with Joydada before on Khola Chithi, a song from one of Riingo’s films. I wanted to do an album with him. He suggested that Sreejato should write the songs. The first text message on this subject was exchanged on January 26, 2011. And it took us over a year to get to this phase.

Craziness prevailed over the year — they’re both quite mad, so they kept coming up with songs and I fell in love with each and every one of them. They’d think of something, record it on a broken, beat-up old phone and send it to me, and I’d spend hours every day sitting in my car going over it again and again like a girl possessed. And, of course, I was exposed to a lot of Bengali music over this phase. In a sense it was educational.

So, after one year of being immersed in this genre of music, who are your favourites?

If you consider the golden era of Bangla adhunik gaan, then I must say the Sabita Choudhury-Salil Choudhury combination or the Lataji and Salil Choudhury duo. Of course, then there’s Ashaji, Nirmala Mishra, Geeta Dutt…

Amongst more contemporary singers, I love Chandrabindoo and I am slightly biased since I’ve worked with them. I like Fossils, I love Lopamudra and Srikanto Acharya.... He has such an interesting voice. He’s also a wonderful composer. I remember listening to Lopadi and Srikantoda perform at Puja pandal concerts and being bowled over.

Speaking of the Pujas, do you have any special plans this year?

I’ll be away the first two days, but then I’ll be in Bombay for the rest of the Pujas. I’ll do the Ashtami anjali, wearing a sari — I love saris, I hoard saris. It’s just that I rarely get an opportunity to wear them, so the Ashtami anjali is one thing I’d totally drape up for. Then the other big thing on the agenda is bhog. Either I go over to the pandals or I get the bhog home. You know, in Bombay, whenever two Bengalis meet during the Pujas, the conversation’s all about which puja served the best bhog.

Wouldn’t you do some shopping for your family?

Yes, definitely. And I have to pick up a nice sari for my mother. I wonder why she hasn’t started sending me text messages yet! I’d probably not get time enough today, but I’d definitely come back to Calcutta before the Pujas.

If money weren’t a problem, what would you buy yourself?

I don’t know. I’m not very materialistic. I’d probably buy a lake. I don’t know why I said that, maybe because I’ve been seeing a lot of lakes these days. But a house by a lake would be nice. I don’t have a lot of desires you see; I feel so lucky. God has give me a lot of things already, there’s nothing to ask for. Maybe I’d set up a charity for music. Or maybe, yes, I’d buy up all the music companies. We need to introduce new concepts in music, work on new ideas.

I listen to a wide range of music, from country to pop to alternative rock, as well as Indian music. You know, what excites me are new ideas. And with a lot of the international hits — from Lady Gaga to Rihanna and others — you’d find excellent production and groundbreaking ideas that lift the music to a greater realm. We need to get there.

Shreya Ghoshal launches her album Monkemoner Station, with Joy Sarkar and Sreejato, at Hotel Hindusthan International. Pictures by Rashbehari Das

Does this passion for new ideas extend to technology?

In a big way. I’m not a gadget freak so to say. I own an iPhone which I love and would sorely love to upgrade to MacBook Air from my current MacBook Pro. But what gets me going is the technology behind the gadgets, new websites, new apps. And I’m way too much into social media — FB, Twitter and Instagram are always open on my phone. But my current favourite is Path. It’s a kind of social networking and you get to have closed friend circles you can share photos and messages with.... When it comes to music, I love Saavn and Soundhound. Soundhound is awesome. You point your phone towards any random song playing and it would name it just like that!

A lot of artistes straddle different fields — painting and filmmaking, singing and acting… What about you?

I can’t paint for toffee! And though I have received film offers many a time, I am just not into it. Films require a little discipline of the art. I don’t have it. And the medium doesn’t excite me either. Woh keeda nahin hai. I’d probably feature in a music video of my own songs, but that’s about it.

I like reading and I hoard books. There are probably 20 unread ones on my bedside table. And yet, here I am, re-reading for maybe the third or fourth time The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams).

I’d say for me, it’s cooking that gives me a space beyond music. I love food. And somehow, music and food go together so well. Cooking is very therapeutic. That preparation, the fragrance of spices, the wafting aromas — it just sweeps aside my depression, tiredness and name what you may. There have been a few disasters here and there. One indelible memory is of a cooker bursting and my kitchen looking like a war-zone with half-cooked dal all over! My biggest fan when it comes to my cooking is my brother. He’d always compliment me, ja okhadyoi rendhe di na keno (however bad it turns out).

FEW OF HER FAVOURITE THINGS

Perfume: Chanel Chance

Food: Masoor dal bhaat with gondhoraj lebu

Heroine to sing for: Vidya Balan

International musician: Celine Dion

Composer: Madan Mohan

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi and Anand Bakshi

Singer amongst the current crop: Sonu Niigaam

Beverage: Black coffee

Anindita Mitra

What question would you like to ask Shreya? Tell t2@abp.in