KOCHI: She sashayed onto the musical scene when the album culture was just beginning to strike root in the country. But Sagarika left an impression. So much so ‘Q-Funk,’ ‘Naujawan,’ ‘Roop Inka Mastana’ and ‘Maa’ are remembered by music buffs even years after their release. Sagarika, the older sister of Bollywood singing sensation Shaan, took a break from the industry for a few years post marriage. Now on a comeback trail, the singer was in the city recently to sing a solo for composer Sunny Viswanath.
Excerpts from an interview:
On staging a comeback
After marriage, I wanted to take a break for a year but it went on to be five years! In the meanwhile, I raised my boys - Michel and Joshua - and transformed myself into a restaurateur. My husband and I set up the Olive Bar and Kitchen chain of restaurants. Now it’s time to come out of the bawarchi image! We moved to London some time ago. A chance meeting with UK based percussionist Talvin Singh was an eye-opener. Together we did an 18 city tour of Europe and I sang mild classical numbers. The response and encouragement I got was tremendous.
My singing debut
That happened when I was five and with none other than Mohammed Rafi! Mummy picked me up from school and we went straight to the recording studio. Singing the track, putting on the headphones...it was all new to me. It was only years later that I realised that I had shared the microphone with a legend.
The Bollywood encounter
As a child artist, I sang in nearly 15 films and did a number of jingles. As a teenager, I lent my voice to a couple of Hindi films. But I’ve not had many good experiences with the composers in the industry. Being a girl, it was tough to survive there. If a composer gave me a song, it was as if he was doing me a great favour than regarding it as a professional exchange. My tastes didn’t match Bollywood’s; so I moved away.
When Atul Chiramani of Magna Sounds invited me to do an album song, little did I know what was in store. I took Shaan along and introduced him to Atul and composer Biddu. Thus ‘Naujawan’ happened. It was a hit and our lives changed. Q-Funk came next and sold a million copies. ‘Disco Deewane,’ ‘Fifty Fifty’ and ‘Maa’ were also lapped up by the public.
I needed a break
I was growing a little tired of stage shows, fan following and recognition and wanted time to discover my space as a singer. In the meanwhile, I got married to Martin Da Costa (he runs an event management company in Mumbai), had kids and got into the hospitality industry. The shift to London brought my hibernating music career back to life. Now I’m experimenting with different styles of music and listening to gifted singers from all over the globe. It was only after the European tour that I realised that I had been leading a frog-in-the-well existence! Am happy to discover a soul enriching world outside. In fact, when we shifted base to London, I was in search of this feeling. Now that my younger one has learnt to speak and can voice his needs, I am ready to take a plunge into music.
My brother, Shaan
Being the older one, I was always protective of him. I remember the days when he used to imitate Kishore Kumar’s voice before he finally developed his own style. Today, when I see young singers aspiring to be Shaan, I feel so happy for that little boy who cried at a recording ‘coz his voice didn’t gel with the music. Music is in our blood (Shaan and Sagarika are the children of the late Bengali composer Manash Mukherjee). He has lived true to dad’s advice _ “Never be satisfied with mediocrity.” Am happy for his success.
The jodi again?
We’d love to work together again. The last time we came together was for ‘Tomor Aakash’ (2004), a Bengali album in which we brought out dad’s unreleased songs.
Music is big time out there. It’s an exciting city. Thanks to the acceptance and respect they get in London, many Indian classical artists have made the city their home. It’s an amalgam of every culture you can think of. I love being there.
I finally became net savvy! It’s amazing to have the whole world on a tiny screen. I thoroughly enjoy surfing the net. We often frequent restaurants, especially Polish and Japanese. It’s fun taking the kids to cultural shows and children’s theatres. Now that I’m trying to build a career in music in London with a Brazilian band, am into learning Portuguese and Brazilian.
Looking forward to
Making quality music in collaboration with talented musicians from all over the world. I preferred melodies but now I am into experimenting with different moods and textures. Some time later, I’ll delve into devotional music but not the typical style we are used to listening to. It’ll be something different.