Nagpur based singer Niranjan Bobde participated in the TV reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Marathi in 2004 and won the competition. He participated again in 2007 and reached till the finals. His stint in the show made him popular in Nagpur and he continues to be so as a live performer. Niranjan loves retro music and is known in Nagpur for doing theme shows which are often tribute to great musicians like R D Burman, A R Rehman, etc. He has performed in almost all metro cities of India and has also performed in Thailand and Singapore. In an interview with Nation Next, Niranjan Bobde speaks about his life as a performer, the music scenario in Nagpur and his future plans.
Were you always inclined towards music? How did music become your passion?
My family has always been into music and is known for its contribution to music in Nagpur. My maternal grandfather Chandrashekhar Warhadpande has written lyrics for quite a few devotional songs which have been sung by renowned singers like Sonu Nigam. My father – Raghunath Bobde is also into music and so is my paternal uncle. So, I have grown up in a musical atmosphere. I have learnt music from my father. When I was four years old, I sung on the stage for a competition and won. I have been singing since then!
You’re a computer engineer and even taught to engineering students. When and how did get into music full time?
After I got my engineering degree from St. Vincent Pallotti College of Engineering and Technology, I started teaching in the same college and taught engineering students for four years. I was already a bit popular as I had participated in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Marathi and was also doing live musical shows. In 2008, I started my music academy ‘Swartarang’ as well. Teaching music and engineering at the same time was hectic and so in 2012, I left my job and got into music full time.
When did you think of starting your music academy? Tell us something about your academy.
Ever since Sa Re Ga Ma Pa happened, people would ask me to share my skills and my experiences with upcoming artists. Keeping that in mind, I started taking music classes initially from my home. After I got a great response, I took a commercial place and launched a full-fledged academy – Swartarang Music academy – in 2008. At Swartarang, along with vocal training, students can also learn different musical instruments. The academy also provides training in several classical dance forms. My wife is a trained Kathak dancer and she teaches at the academy as well. Some of my students have made it to Indian Idol Junior in the past and it makes me proud as a guru. The academy also organises two-three musical shows in a year exclusively for students. The idea is to give them more exposure and a feel of the stage firsthand.
You have been performing since the age of four. How do you think Nagpur’s entertainment industry has evolved over the years?
Twenty years back, there wasn’t much emphasis given to music in the city. In the last ten years, the entire musical landscape has changed. Every day there’s a musical program in the city somewhere. There’s a lot of awareness about music now and parents want their children to learn music. Schools these days emphasise on learning music as well. Music is something which gives you happiness and I think if it is imbibed in a child right from childhood, he will excel in his studies as well pretty good.
You are quite popular as a live performer. Do you plan to get into playback singing anytime soon? Who are your favourite musicians and why?
I love the music by Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant – Pyarelal and Madan Mohan; their music is so full of life. Among the musicians of today, I love Ajay – Atul and Rehman sir’s music. I would love to work with them. I want to do playback singing for sure and by God’s grace I will do it someday. Live shows give you a lot of popularity and I’m enjoying the phase where I’m getting that popularity in Vidarbha. I happy with the love I’m getting and a playback singing chance will be like icing on the cake.
How do you see the music scenario in the city right now?
The music scenario in the city is in a wonderful phase right now. A couple of years back, I went to meet Pyarelal bhai at his residence. I told him that I want to do a show with him in Nagpur. He agreed and told me that he will bring his own musicians along with him. I told him that we don’t have that kind of budget and requested him to let me arrange the musicians for the show. He agreed and came to Nagpur after a gap of forty years! He came a day before because he wanted to see the city musicians practice. The show was splendid the following day and he praised all the musicians and told the audience that they are nowhere less than the musicians in Mumbai. There is abundance of talent in Nagpur. Nagpur musicians are keeping busy like never before; they have packed schedules as they keep performing all the time at some or the other place.
What are your expectations from the music industry in Nagpur?
I feel that if the Government gives some kind of support to give a boost to cultural activities in the city, it would be really great. There’s lack of sponsors in Nagpur. Two of the biggest ministers are from Nagpur, so I hope they do something for the city. Also, a bigger auditorium is the need of the hour in the city. Dr Vasantrao Deshpande hall is the biggest hall in the city but even that hall is not always available. Also, the rent which is charged for the hall is more than the rent charged in Mumbai or Pune.
How important do you think it is to be innovative and presentable when one is performing live?
If you want to survive in the long run, you have to be innovative. Secondly, you should be able to understand the mood of the audience if you’re performing live. If you’re able to do these two things, you will definitely survive. It is also very important to be presentable but your talent and skills play a much bigger role in your success. Being presentable is just an add on.