It wasn’t the dialogues of a film she was browsing through but some stanzas of a song, humming on and off. On Thursday, t2 caught Arpita recording a Puja album (yet untitled), composed by Neel Dutt, at Dream Digital studio near Vivekananda Park. A chat...
Surprise, surprise — Arpita cutting a Puja album! So how did you like the sound of your voice?
Very bad! I asked Neel so many times why I had to record an album.... Well, this is what you call destiny! I had trained in music years back and had I got an offer when I was into regular practice, I would have done justice to the album. Being a non-professional who hasn’t been in touch with music for a long time, from that perspective I think I have been able to do justice. But if you ask me from the point of view of a professional singer, then I think it is a no. I have tried my best though. The two things that were uppermost on my mind were that I should justify the trust the company (Orion Entertainment) has put in me, and of course Neel... apart from being a composer, he is a very good friend of mine. He is a National Award-winning music director, so he shouldn’t get a bad name! (Laughs) I am not thinking about taking up music as a career.
So how did you get back to singing?
I recently sang for our own production Bapi Bari Jaa (directed by Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha) for which Jeet Gannguli had done the music. One morning, Jeet called me and said I would have to sing for Bapi Bari Jaa. I thought he was mad! He said he knew that I could sing.... Well, I had trained in semi-classical under Shipra Basu and Jeet would come over to Mashi’s house to play the harmonium. And once he brought up the Shipra Basu connection, I could not turn him down. I thought I could give it a try. It was a duet with Ustad Rashid Khan. I had nothing to gain or lose. Geye phellum!... Then Orion approached me for this album.
You have sung on stage for Swapnasandhani’s Natir Puja...
I have two-three Tagore songs in Natir Puja. I had also sung for (Rituparno Ghosh’s) Asukh. Back then, I was deeply into music... riyaaz was part of my regular routine but I haven’t practised for the past 15 years.
|Amyt, Arpita and Neel at the recording. Pictures by Pabitra Das
Was music a career option when you started out?
My parents wanted me to take up singing professionally. Music, dance and recitation... my parents planted all three into my system. I was four when I got into music. My hands didn’t even reach the harmonium! I trained for at least 10 years... I used to learn classical from Arun Bhaduri. I had participated in the Dover Lane Music Conference and stood first in either bhajan or raag-pradhan... cannot remember clearly. And then I won Sananda Tilottama in 1997 which changed the course of my life. But film is such a medium that leaves you with very little time to do anything else. I got nostalgic when I started preparing for this album... the memories came rushing back.
Who are your favourites?
RD Burman and Asha Bhosle are my all-time favourites. And they will remain my favourites till the last day of my life. I love melodious tunes.... After I got in touch with Neel, I got to know a lot about what is happening in the world of music today. I am listening to a lot of Sona Mohapatra. She is fantastic! I love all the tracks of Ijaazat and one song from (Anjan Dutt’s) Dutta vs Dutta, sung by Rupankar, which is amazing!
What’s the idea behind the album?
It’s actually Anjanda’s (Dutt) concept. Since I am not a professional singer, Anjanda suggested that it be my story. He said we should not try to establish me as a singer. It is a new venture for me. There are probably a lot of things that, being an actress or the first lady of Tollywood, I cannot share... these songs are an outlet for the real Arpita. My desires, my childhood, my thoughts on marriage or womanhood... and the songs are so real. I don’t know how the lyricists were so spot on!
Will the album change your mind about not pursing music?
I don’t want to pursue a career as a singer.
What if offers come your way?
I would think about it. I have no expectations.
You are trying different things at this point in your career. What’s next?
Trying? I have already done it! Some day you might hear I am off to Mt Everest!