She never thought of popularising classical music among younger listeners when Ab Ke Sawan was recorded. “Music director Shantanu Moitra had asked me to provide the classical accent to that Indipop track, so I did it. Classical music cannot be popularised by one pop song”, says Shubha Mudgal.
As a trained Hindustani singer, Mudgal has been performing in concerts all over the world. Referring to the diverse audience in her concerts, she says: “I cannot say specifically audience of a particular place are more appreciative than others. The tastes, likes and dislikes can even vary within a single group of audience”.
For the renowned singer, it all depends on the music environment one has grown up in. “A listener may not know a lot about music, but he or she can have an ear for music”, Mudgal elaborates. “If in a home there is no music-environment, how can one expect someone in that home to appreciate music?” she wonders. A lot depends also on the music content that is offered by the media. “The radio stations and the television channels air music mostly of the Hindi films and that too dance numbers. It’s demeaning the listenership. How will younger generation know about the rich heritage of our music?” Mudgal sounds doubtful. She then refers to the clichés that prevail among us. “I don’t think classical music is only for the grey-haired people. Anyone can appreciate classical music” - the singer affirms her stand.
Though she is hesitant to describe her music, Mudgal has “no problem with the hybridisation of music”. Referring to the Ab Ke Sawan again she says, “It is happening everywhere”.
For Mudgal, both voice and the rules of music are equally important. “No one can sing without knowing the grammar”, she clarifies. “As a singer I have to understand the basic medium that’s my voice”, she adds. “I am student of music – and that’s what matters most”, she says. “I have not studied Sufi music or Kawali. I should not try to enlighten you about them. But they are part of musical heritage and we must preserve them”, she adds.
Referring to the music directors she has worked with Mudgal fondly mentions Shantanu Moitra. “You see.. Shantanu and I do not meet each other regularly. Maybe for months or a year we do not even talk over the phone. Suddenly, one day he might call me and ask to perform in a video or refer a video to me and ask to watch it…it’s like that. The warmth and rapport is always there”.
Then from the warm environs of New Delhi Mudgal mentions music director Debojyoti Mishra. “It was wonderful working with Debuda (Mishra)”, Mudgal recalls in the context of her experience as a singer in the film Rainwater. The chemistry continues in the forthcoming projects as well, informs Mudgal.
Mentioning her collaborations with artistes abroad (“the ones I did for the British Council, for example”), Mudgal says, “I am a tricky collaborator”. For her Ashaji (Bhosle) is a “genius” who can collaborate with well-known international acts and perform in public. “For me, it has to be beyond jamming with someone like say Sting or Santana. I should know the artistes rather than going for a public performance with him or her”, Mudgal says candidly.