Team Uthaan had a chance to interview Sir Sajan Mishra. He is a singer of the khyal style of Indian classical music. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2007, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998, the Gandharva National Award for 1994–1995 and the National Tansen Samman 2011–2012 on 14 December 2012 along with his brother late Sir Rajan Mishra.
What were the challenges you faced in entering the professional singing field? How were you able to deal with it?
It was a very difficult journey and the competition was very tough . India is too big to make a name for oneself among so many talented vocalists. For this sacrifice, hard work is required. It is very important to have the grace of the Guru, God’s grace, and we have been very lucky with the blessings of our elders.
You gave your first concert abroad in 1978 in Sri Lanka. You have performed in many countries around the world. How was your experience there?
In foreign countries people see it from a spiritual point of view, their perception of classical music is different whereas in India most of the people see it from the point of view of entertainment. In European countries audiences listen with great respect. The audience in both the places is different in their own ways. I enjoy performing in India as well as abroad.
What do you think about modern music?
The restlessness has increased. You will observe in your elders that they also used to do work but there is a difference in their working style and yours. New generation wants to complete their task as early as possible. The only difference is that the music of this generation which is playing now, has made a particular track, they have all the songs on the same track and same rhythm. Nowadays, everyone sings in a manner that is largely uniform. Singers from the past, for example Sir Mohammed Rafi, Sir Manna Dey, Sir Kishore Kumar, and many others used to sing very differently. Their style of singing was completely unique. Today there are a lot of vocalists, but they all sound the same. They are fortunate to have a good voice that god has given them, and they are now making a lot of money from their performances and other endeavors. Even though we have dedicated our entire lives to singing, some individuals find it difficult to donate even a tiny sum of money.
We have adopted new ideas but we are still not able to modernize ourselves.. This generation is swinging between two ends of the pendulum and still not able to learn that they are doing work opposite to their nature.
What’s the best advice any other musician has ever given you?
Patience is the key. You must be patient enough to taste success. Never do anything with a competitive spirit in your heart.
Always see music with a sense of reverence and always think that if people are blessing you, then it will help you. We can learn something from everyone, so we should respect our seniors as well as our juniors. We should be very humble and ground to earth because being humble also affects our music.
As we know you have a musical background, how much has your musical background influenced you to choose Music as your career?
One must be committed and have an artistic mindset. Everyone is hesitant to start something new at first, but as we received praise and encouragement, we gained the crowd’s love, and our audience grew, we eventually were able to turn our performance commercial.
Who were your inspirations and other musical influences?
My uncle and father served as an inspiration to me. There were many other people who inspired me like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi ji, Pandit Ravi Shankar ji, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan ji and many more. Every time I saw these people, I wished we had also arrived there. I don’t know if I have reached there or not but t here is still a lot to achieve in life.
Interviewed by Ayush Jha, Harshita Roonwal and Mrigank Shukla
Co-ordinated by Kailash Kejriwal