Music is my oxygen, every note a breath

By Poornima Koonath
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Singer Srijani Dan tells Poornima Koonath about her musical journey, which began even before she was born

Singing is an art and a craft. While some singers are made, others are born. We tend to find prodigies, people who are just naturally more gifted, than the others. Srijani Dan is one such singer. She wows the audience the moment she steps on the stage and then completely captivates them when she starts singing.  She is a singer who handles different genres of music with a deftness and ease that is refreshing and commendable. Her voice and her musical repertoire have a depth that can tantalise her listeners, cajole them, touch their hearts and even get deep down to touch their souls. The most important part about a singer is their passion. And when a singer performs, the audience can sense and feel that passion. “I think music was there in my life since I was born and that’s because of my parents. I have always found refuge in music, it’s my window of expression. Initially it was a routine and then it became a part of my life, and now it’s my life, my oxygen which I cannot survive without,” Srijani says.

Srijani’s musical journey started when she was very young. “It began even before I was born as my parents are musicians too. My mother is a vocalist and my father, a tabla player and percussionist. I formally got introduced to music when I was four. My first lessons were from my mother and then she took me to her Guruji Pandit Dhruvatara Joshi ji. But unfortunately, Pandit ji passed away after a few months and so I continued learning from his student,” says Srijani. She continued her training in Hindustani classical music from Guru Imam Ghulam of Allahabad (Prayag Gharana), Bhajan and Tumri from Esha Bandopadhayay from Lucknow Gharana and trained in light vocals under Debasis Banerjee in Kolkata. Gautam Ghoshal is now her guru.

Like all creative artists, Srijani is happy to take risks and learn from them. When asked about her creative process, Srjani explained, “My creative process is very experimental. I don’t like stereotypes in anything that is creative. I like to take risks, make mistakes, learn from them.” She thinks if a singer confines herself within a boundary, especially in the creative world then, “you are not doing justice to creativity”. “To explore we need to extend ourselves to many things, which will not always hit the right chords but will help one understand the wrong ones,” she says. Dedicated and determined singers take pride in what they do and in each and every one of their performances. They can also be stubborn and will not accept anything that is less that perfect. I have seen this stubborn side of Srijani’s and this drive for perfection that makes her a cut above the rest.

While Srijani enjoys all kinds of music, she is particularly drawn to classical music. She loves poetry and so anything that has a culmination of good poetry and great composition draws her attention. She loves listening to the maestros, “as even listening to them helps you learn so much in your oblivion. I have experienced it myself”, says Srijani. For Srijani, the favourite part of music is the learning, which is a never-ending process. “The more you learn, there more you realise there is to learn! And that makes me realise that I can pursue this journey of learning for a long time.” She juggles her time constraints—her commitment to her family and her profession—but ensures that she practises music every day. She has performed in many venues in India and Australia and has over 100 concerts to her credit. She enamours the audience with her unique style of delivering enchanting music and has the impeccable ability to bring to life the lyrics of the songs with a poetic delivery.

Srijani has recorded devotional songs and jingles for advertisements in India. In 2017, she released the cover version of ‘Thikana Na Rakhe’ and in January 2018, she released her first music CD, a Bengali album ‘Icche Rong’ that has melodious songs with a touch of nostalgia. “It reflects the different shades and colours of love, pain, romance, separation and union. It’s penned and composed by my Guruji Shri Goutam Ghoshal,” Srijani elaborates.

The year began with the release of Hindi-Bengal single. In 2019, she also has a Hindi cover in the pipeline, with a few more singles. Early this year, Srijani was introduced to the Sydney audience by Arun Nanda and Rushi Dave’s Heart and Soul Productions through ‘Srijani Live in Concert’. The evening laid bare the gamut of her talent.

Srijani is married to the talented Abhijit Dan. He is no stranger to the music loving audience of Sydney. He has created magic with his exceptional skills as a tabla artist and percussionist. “We got together through music, that is the strength of our relationship,” she says. “He used to play tabla and I used to sing. Eventually we started bumping into each other at various events. Then we started doing gigs together, and then the inevitable happened and today we are where we were destined to be perhaps,” gushes Srijani.

When asked what it was like to have two extremely talented artists living under one roof, Srijani is very quick to respond, “I think and believe Abhijit is much more talented than I am, more dedicated and his taiyari is more intense! He believes in perfection,” she adds. Abhijit, she says is her genuine critic and his feedback has always motivated her to work harder. She considers it a blessing to have him around her. The two things she struggles to get from him are—practice with her and a compliment for her efforts. Srijani’s young son Srijit performed with her during her first concert.

It seems like a repeat of history, as she is her son’s first guru. He is learning Hindustani classical from his guru in India, Arshad Ali Khan, from Kinara Gharana. Srijit goes to India with Srijani for his classes and also has online lessons. She also shares with him whatever she knows. “It makes me happy as I see my childhood reflections in him. I always try to make him understand and realise that there is no greater company than music (or any creativity/art) and books in life,” says a proud Srijani.

Singers touch a part of our hearts that can’t be touched in any other way. Singing brings emotion and feeling to our lives. It is beautiful voices that take us back to our happiest and our darkest moments. And Srijani’s voice is one such. When on stage, she is always aiming to achieve the very best as she doesn’t want to disappoint her audiences.  “When I am performing there is a lot of responsibility that I carry on my shoulders. I am my biggest critic, and I like being hard on myself as I don’t want to walk away being satisfied after any performances. I want to keep getting better,” she elaborates. Srijani is a reputed music teacher in Sydney and also teaches at the Natraj Academy. “I am inspired by many, it’s hard to name any particular individual. I get intrigued and inspired by anyone who feeds my soul with music.”

When asked to describe herself, she said, “Srijani Dan is nothing but a student of music besides being a mom, a wife and an accountant”. She further continues that we, Sydneysiders should respect all the talent we have amongst us. “Being in the country and doing music full time is a different thing. But being far away from India, managing every small and big thing on your own and still keeping up with music is not only challenging, it can seem impossible at times. It needs a lot of time management, prioritising to do what you want to do, and it demands a lot of sacrifice”, she continues. She is thankful for all the goodwill and support she receives from the community.  “Please keep me in your prayers so that I can become a better musician with time and grow more as a student of music. All your support means a lot to me,” she concludes. The Indian Sun team on behalf of all the readers wish Srijani Dan the very best as she explores new avenues and conquers  new challenges. Cheers!

 

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