My association with singer Sanjeevani Bhelande goes to more than 10 years, when for the first time I had interviewed her for a popular woman’s magazine. Thus when she mentioned recently that she would be presenting a concert dedicated to Asha Bhosle’s songs for the relief of Maharashtra’s drought-stricken farmers on April 23rd, in Mumbai’s Rang Sharda auditorium, we at A Journalist Reveals, decided to have a chit chat with her about it and a few other things.
Where were you born? Pls. share a little about your childhood.
I was born in Kolhapur. I’ve lived all my life in Mumbai. I was one year old when I sang Chal chal chal mere hathi… and made all our domestic helps sing along. I used to sing to the plants in our balcony.
Full educational qualifications.
M.Com, Diploma in Mass Communications, Sangeet Visharad.
Children are often compelled by parents to join classical vocal class. But only a few children take it up as their passion. How was it with you?
My parents enrolled me into Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans’ Sangeet Shikshapeeth at age ten. I used to finish school at 4 pm and go to the next door Bhavan’s College at 4.30pm. While all other children from my school went home and played, I stayed back this extra hour daily and learnt classical music. I was a dedicated and naturally gifted student. I sang all the time and practiced religiously.
What was your parents’ reaction when you told them that you would be taking up classical music as your profession?
I never took up classical music as my profession. In fact I was pursuing academics all along. But my live concerts of retro music began and I got an overwhelming response. That’s how I started performing film music. I won a TV contest and got invited to sing for Hindi films first of which was Kareeb by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
How did you form your band? Tell us the process.
As I started performing live shows of old songs, I needed musicians who would play the classical based songs I performed. I auditioned several musicians and co-singers and formed my band Sur-Sanjeevani.
How were you inspired to help the drought-stricken farmers?
I am a staunch environmentalist. I am actively involved in garbage segregation and tree plantation in my area. My dream is to be a farmer and grow my own vegetables and fruits.
It pains me to see the most important link in the food cycle, the farmer, being driven to suicide. When Mastek foundation approached me for this fundraiser I instantly agreed as I believe saving the farmer means saving ourselves.
What are the challenges faced by newbies in this field?
Artists often get busy performing shows after a little bit of success. They forget to visit the vocal gym (riyaz).Then standards of excellence become stunted. This is the real challenge for any artist – to keep polishing skills after success.
What would be your advice to them?
Find a good guru and keep learning classical music. It is a bottomless ocean and you can dive deeper and deeper.
What do you see in the future – for the band and yourself?
I have recorded about a 100 soul tracks for Rajshri Soul. In future I see myself doing a lot of soul concerts of spiritual music.
What do you do when you are not singing or teaching?
I tend my plants, I learn Odissi dance, I cook healthy salads and I write.