Sonali Mukherjee

Yet another score in Manipuri Music

Music always forms a part of our life since time immemorial. Listening to a favorite music enliven one's body and mind. In today's satellite age, music is becoming increasingly prominent especially among the youngsters. We-like-to-party type music becomes the craze of teenagers. Ecstatic music albums telecast in MTV, V, or X or Z channels are sunk into the psyche of these youngsters. With the saturation of these commercial satellite channels in the state, there has emerged a new trend in Manipuri music culture too. Be it in Manipuri film music or other private albums (video albums are also becoming popular). Manipuri songs have now fused with most wanted hip-hop, pop and western rhythms. Ultramodern with added sophisticated music tuned in highly liberal lyrics is reflected in Manipuri songs.

See the Bandh Bandh of Tapta, Einadi Kayada Nungshijaba from Sadananda, Nungshinaba Heirunu Ita from Umoni and so forth. Golden oldies of Pahari, melodies of Memma, heart throbbing numbers of Naba Volcano, sentimentals of Khun Joykumar, Sanaton and so on hanged about as Old is Gold. With this new scenario, many new artistes have begun tearing off their talents in singing. Subsequently Manipuri music industry has also been doing a brisk business.

Among those new promising artistes, Sonali Mukherjee is another instinct in the block with a difference. Born and grown up in a respectable Bengali family at South Babupara, Imphal, Sonali aged 26, is a new artiste (singing Meiteilon numbers) well accepted by the music lovers of Manipur. A Sangeet Visharad certificate holder Sonali Mukherjee did her school and college education at Little Flower School and GP Women's College. She is now doing Ph.D in English at MU. Atom Samarendra Singh, Correspondent, had a nice talk with this budding talent. The following is the excerpts of her interview.

E-Pao: Can you kindly tell us something about yourself and your family?
Sonali: I was born and brought up here in Manipur. We have been in Manipur for more than 100 years. I think we were the first Bengali settled in the State. My father expired while I was only 12. My mother is a housewife. I have two sisters including me and have no brother.

E-Pao: When did you start singing and how did you start grooming your talents?
Sonali: Well, I started singing at the age of six/seven. Though my family did not support me at the outset, my strong passion in singing made their mind change. I spent my early days of learning music from Ojha Modhu of Nagamapal and Arambam Dorendro of Keishampat. I got Sangeet Virashad from Cultural Training Centre, Imphal in 1991. But I took singing more seriously after completion of Masters Degree from Manipur University.

E-Pao: What was the turning point in your career and who influenced you most?
Sonali: Although I was approved as a Hindi Bhajan singer in AIR, New Delhi in 1995, my turning point was certainly when I took into singing for Manipuri movie. Sanaton Ningthoujam, who is the associate producer of Manipuri film 'Lei-ee-ama' introduced me in the film as play back singer. My mother influenced me the most.

E-Pao: So, your first number in Manipuri movie must still very vivid in your mind. Can you share that moment with us?
Sonali: Yes! I was very very happy. I didn't expect that chance would come to me. It has come so unexpectedly to naturally get excited.

E-Pao: Tell us about other public performances apart from singing for silver screen.
Sonali: I have not given much public performances. Yes sometimes few years ago I had performed at BOAT, GM Hall and MDU.

E-Pao: What are your contributions to AIR Imphal and Doordarshan?
Sonali: AIR Imphal had aired classical Khayals and other Manipuri songs in youth programmes. Some of my Manipuri songs telecast in DDK Imphal include Se Taroba Nappa Chikna and Thabum kaya Houkhre Nungshi Mapao Tadaba.

E-Pao: These days, there is an influx of Bollywood singers in Manipuri films. Do you think that our filmmakers are failing to appreciate the talents of our local singers?
Sonali: I think our film makers have the perception that engagement of renown singers from Bollywood to Manipuri movie would help catching the attention of more audiences. However, they must appreciate the abundant local talents also.

E-Pao: How many Meiteilon Songs are in your credit so far? And please tell us about your most favorite numbers among them.
Sonali: Excluding solo albums, so far I have sung for Lei-ee-Ama, Meichak, Inthoklabi (yet to be released), Thawanmichakna Kenkhrabada (yet to be released) and the latest Mandir (yet to released). My favorites would be Chingdol pakna pairiba leichel (a duet with M Tijen) in Lei-ee-Ama and Nungshibra Hanglakkanu (also duet with M Tijen) in Mandir.

E-Pao: How do you like living in Manipur?
Sonali: I like Manipur very much with no words. Because the saying 'heart is where your birthplace is' also holds true to me.

E-Pao: Thanks for sparing your valuable time with us and wish you all the best for the future.
Sonali: It's my pleasure.

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