Chandana Dixit: Youngsters who train in classical music stand much better chance in singing

The singer of Bollywood’s popular song ‘husn hai suhana’ shares some interesting facts about herself and singing as profession

Chandana Dixit (File Photo)
Chandana Dixit (File Photo)

Kumar Raviraj Sinha

Chandana Dixit started her career as a dubbing artist but went on to become playback singer. She has many hits to her credit. "Husn Hain Suhana" (Coolie No. 1), "Shahar Ki Ladki" (Rakshak), "Chumma Chumma" (Daanveer), "Tujhe Khaas Fursat" (Auzaar) and "Khul Gaya Naseeb" (Bhai), are a few of her popular songs. Recently she rendered her voice to a remix of her own 24 years old hit ‘husn hai suhana’. She has worked with music composers Anand–Milind and Anu Malik and Kalyanji Anandji.

It's been 24 years that Chandana sang the original track of ‘Husn hai suhana..’ but she still retains the magic of her melodious voice as we can witness in her latest recreated version of "Husn Hai Suhana". In a brief conversation with Raviraj Sinha, she highlights the importance of learning classical music.

As a Bollywood singer, how has your journey been?

My musical journey began with learning Indian classical music. I always aspired to be a classical singer and began my taleem with Saraswati Rane who was my first Guru, of the Kirana gharana, she was also incidentally one of India’s first playback singers. During college I won many classical music competiitons including the prestigious National scholarship by Government of India. My journey as a Bollywood singer began when I met music directors Kalyanji Anandji and they felt that my voice was very good for playback singing. They convinced my parents, that they would train and groom me. It was an amazing experience, especially for me who had no film background. Then of course on the journey it’s a constant process of learning and growing as the principles of classical and light music are quite different.

You have worked with many great music composers, how was the experience? Any tips you got from them?

The biggest education regarding playback singing I received was from Kalyanji Anandji, as they were veterans with so much of experience and knowledge and had a very good way of communicating that. Some of the important ideas they shared were that you have to become the heroine’s or rather the character’s voice, you are always expressing a specific emotion. So your voice projection has to convey that. Also about how to appreciate poetry and lyrics. Then some technical stuff about sur precision. Using fade in and fade out techniques and especially how to end the line, the chod is very important! Plus the importance of using voice modulation, this was something I was not used to as in classical music it it not allowed or encouraged.

What is your take on the culture of remixes in Bollywood? We don’t seem to have original music nowadays in Hindi cinema...You run a school on classical music. what you have to say about it? Do you think there is scope for youngsters in Bollywood music industry?

With the number of remixes being made nowadays, it is pretty obvious that the people enjoy old melodies and they basically want it in a new reimagined scenario which is more contemporary. I feel reimagination exists in all art forms, be it art, architecture, advertising etc. Remixes can also be understood as a cultural blending, primarily to appeal to the youth. I run a music school and teach classical music, because that should be learnt for any kind of music. Light music is basically adopting a particular style. But classical music prepares the voice and develops its potential. After that training one can pick whichever style or form they wish to sing in, be it bhajan, ghazal, folk, Sufi...... Youngsters who train in classical music stand a much better chance as they have learnt to understand their vocal potential and possibilities better.

Bollywood music till the 70s was brilliant and even today those songs are recalled and enjoyed. Does our music industry lack talent now to create such forever green melodies?

My son always laughs if I say that, and insists that it is just nostalgia. I feel every generation has its share of great songs and forgettable ones as well. When we look back we tend to remember only the good ones and in the current times we are annoyed by the ones we don’t like. Having said that I do agree that 60’s and 70’s were the golden era of film music. We are all drawn to them, we continue to listen to them. I feel today’s times are very different. There is tremendous pressure and competition, so that relaxed mindset which allows one to take risks and try out new things is rare. Also may be, people who select the songs prefer familiar sounding stuff and prefer to play safe.

What’s your take on the increasing influence of Punjabi pop on Bollywood music?

Actually the Punjabi influence has been around for a while, well over a decade and half, I feel it seems to work with the kind of films being made today and it’s actually very popular even in non film music. Probably because of the catchy tunes and upbeat tempo of the songs.

The Original and Recreated Version of Husn Hai Deewana have been sung by you, what changes were made for the same to resonate well along with the youth?

To be honest the makers did not want any changes to the vocals as they wanted to retain the old charm, they mainly changed the music giving it more of a dancey feel, that would resonate well with the youth.

You also run a classical music training school...

After getting married and moving to the USA, I opened a music school and started training students in classical music in the Guru shishya parampara. And also restarted my riyaaz in classical music, which I had abandoned during my time in Bollywood. It really helped me grow and diversify in many genres of music like thumri, tarana, Sufi as well.

8. What are your upcoming projects?

I am currently working on a couple of fusion projects with some western musicians in the US. Regarding Bollywood playback, there are some projects which have been on hold due to the Covid situation. Waiting for them to start.

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