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BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Sanjeevani Bhelande, winner of Zee TVís popular talent hunt show Sa Re Ga Ma 1995 and playback singer enthralled the Atlanta audience April 17, 2010 at the annual Fund Raising event organized by Shiv Aggarwal, President Local Atlanta Chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya at the Sardar Patel Bhavan of Gujarati Samaj in Tucker. Sanjeevani is currently touring the US and will be performing 30 shows across America with her multitasking accompanying musicians, Mohit Shastry, who plays both the Keyboard and flute, Tabla/Dholak player Amit Mehta who also happens to be a good singer and Octopad player Rupesh Rane.
Hailing form a family of academicians, Sanjeevani was truly happy to be part of the Fund Raising concert for Ekal Vidyalaya, a cause for education. Her late father was the Director of Education for the Maharastra government and a professor of Sanskrit and mother retired as professor of English and sister holds a doctorate in English Literature and currently is Reader in English at a city college. Sanjeevani herself has a Masters degree in Commerce (MCom), a Diploma in Mass Communication, and one in Film Production. A completely down to earth personality, Sanjeevani is truly the girl next door embracing fame with humility.
How did you get into music?
Well, music was in my vocals. My mother has a good, tuneful voice. But I started training in Classical music early on. (Sanjeevani started learning music at age 10 under renowned gurus of classical music such as Pundit Dinkar Kaikini, she completed her Sangeet Visharad (graduation in Hindustani Classical Music. She is fine-tuning her singing from Ms. Rajshri Pathak and learning Thumri Gayki.)
How did you get into Sa Re Ga Ma?
They called me because I had participated in Antakshari. I got noticed as a good singer. So I had do some auditions during Antakshari, but it was not like now, was much simpler back then, so Gajendra Singhji called me for Sa Re Ga Ma
What is your connection with Ekal Vidyalaya?
I was on a tour last year and when I was at the temple with someone and met Veena Gandhi, a volunteer heard me and invited me to sing and with my background I was drawn to the cause.
Can you tell us about your first Bollywood break, Kareeb?
I got picked up from Sa Re Ga Ma, Vindhu Vinod Chopra heard me and I sang all the songs of Kareeb including Chori Chori Jab Nazare Mili (for which she won Aashirwad Award and was nominated for the Filmfare Best Female Playback Award in 1998). Then I sang for Nayak ( Music by A.R. Rahman), Kya Dilne Kaha ( Music by Himesh Reshammiya), Road, Rules and Socha Na Tha( Music: Sandesh Shandilya)
What is your take on Reality Shows in India?
Contests are ideally a good platform for youngsters to be seen and known. Now it has become very commercial with lots of manipulation. During our times, the contests were much more innocent.
Do you like hosting or singing?
Most singers in Bollywood often have Godfathers. How does one survive without one?
I believe there is only one Godfather, God.
So you think Talent can survive in Bollywood with no Godfathers?
If you are devoted to music, God will help you find a way. That is the only truth
What is the one quality each singer must cultivate?
Doobke gaao ( Immerse yourself, feel the song when you sing). Pour yourself into the song. Donít read the song. I cannot do it. Give me lyrics, I cannot read a song.
Is that what you would tell an aspiring singer?
I would not say anything because each artist is complete in himself/herself. You cannot tell a Mukheshji to sing like Kishore Da
What about new aspiring singers?
Honestly, if you are talking about films, there is not much you can do, you sing according to the requirements. But if you interested in classical music, learn it.
Do you think it makes a difference in singing if a singer is classically trained verses not?
That is up to the listener to decide. Some people find no difference, but it makes a difference to me. I compete with myself. What ever I sang say when I started classical music, there was a certain level I had achieved but it was lost in between because I got busy with shows and filmy singing. Again I started training and now I rehearse regularly. And now Iím happy with what Iím doing and that one hour I give in the morning is one the most beautiful times of the day.
Do you have a favorite singer?
Sanjeevani: I have a favorite composer Ė Rahman and Naushad.
Your favorite song?
Tu Chanda aur main Chandini from Reshma aur Shera and Mohe Panghat Pe
What can you tell about yourself, your family?
Everyone is in Academics, we are into Education, and Iím also well educated. I have an elder brother and sister.
Are they into music?
No, but everyone likes music.
What can you tell us about Saanjh Sanjeevani?
I do a down the memory lane, nostalgia theme starting from Jawa hain Mohabbat mostly from the 40s I cover, Noor Jahan, Shamshaad, Geeta dutt, Asha Bhosle, Lataji. Then I sing my own songs. Then Iím open to requests from audience.
Is it encouraging for musicians to come to the US?
The audience is very disciplined and everyone is hungry for the songs. A whole generation of people brought up on those old songs and they want to listen to these songs.
With her latest Album, MeeraíN Mee, Sanjeevani hopes to rope in the English speaking audience, the Indian diaspora as well as urban Indian youngsters. The music effortlessly blends the sarangi with the strings,duff with the drums and the original Rajasthani lyrics with the English verses. Her big dream is to take Meera to Broadway and West end in the form of Meera the musical! Hereís wishing a truly devoted, dedicated singer, Sanjeevani her well-deserved success in all her endeavors.