} EXCLUSIVE: In Conversation With Music Producer, Composer, Singer & Keyboardist - Abhijit Pohankar

Ace Music Producer, Composer, Singer & Indian Classical Keyboardist, Abhijit Pohankar is considered as one of the Pioneers and Trendsetters of Indian Fusion music. Son of renowned classical vocalist Maestro Pt. Ajay Pohankar, Abhijit was born with music in his blood. From being a flamboyant performer on stage to mesmerizing the audiences through his unique style of fusion music with Bollywood Gharana, Abhijit has come a long way. He has also been the recipient of number of awards including the Della Technica award for excellence in music, The Youth Icon of Music award from Rotary Club and also the Tata AV Max award for the best music album ‘Piya Bavari’.

Having said all that what describes him the best, we interacted with Abhijit to find out more about Bollywood Gharana and know more about this power house of Talent!

You were born in a musical family (Gharana). Tell us a bit about your life while growing up?

It was one of the most wonderful childhoods ever for an artist! You know the reason is because I was not only born in this great family but at the same time I was brought up with legends. Legends like Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi all big names, they used to come to our house. So as a child I had even played cricket with them. You know something which is very extra ordinary. Not everybody gets such a special treatment. So I have been grown up with legends only all the time. So it has been a fantastic childhood and not just Indian classical but artists of all stretchers and different genres used to visit us.

Speaking about Bollywood Gharana, Tell us about the idea behind it. What kind of changes is Bollywood Gharana planning to bring forth in the current music scene?

I have been doing Fusion Music for about 20 years now. One of my biggest albums was ‘Piya Bawari’ which was way back in 2002. Till today people remember that and it was revolutionary concept. That time I had made Indian classical music cool by introducing it on a video platform which was very bold back then. It was like a superhot video shot on the beach. Even if you see it today it was way ahead of its time. So I had an instrumental in bringing classical music to the younger audiences and that’s exactly how the fusion way started back then and it is continuing even today.

Since Bollywood music is something which is the most popular music today, not only around the country but abroad also, I thought to mix these two genres of music, i.e. Bollywood with classical! And this is something that nobody had done and I am known for doing unique things always. I am not someone who runs into the band wagon but it starts from me. So this is something which I have done now to introduce to big genres like Bollywood & Indian Classical and a fusion of these two seamlessly forms ‘Bollywood Gharana’.

So bringing Bollywood songs and Indian classical compositions and then singing it together, that’s what ‘Bollywood Gharana’ is all about.

Now there are two things, one is either there are gigs and programs sponsored of pure Bollywood music which you know and the other is pure fusion music of Indian classical. But there is something to bring both these together for a newer audience and the existing audiences of both these genres together. This is something very unique and very good because you know you will get a bigger audience. The classical audience will enjoy Bollywood and Bollywood audience will enjoy Indian classical. So you are mixing two genres and two audiences also. Hence, Bollywood Gharana is all set to make a big impact on the listening community.

You have been performing a lot of shows not only in India but also internationally! So, where have you enjoyed performing the most?

I have performed almost everywhere, US, UK, Europe but some of my very good concerts have been in South Africa, which was not a venue where too many Indian resides. Cape Town was one of my finest concerts back in 2006-07 where I had performed ‘Piya Bawari ‘concert with my father Pt. Ajay Pohankar and in that concert we had audiences from around the globe including Africans, Pakistani, Indians, we had almost everybody. And believe me, after each song, somebody who is not an Indian use to get up and ask for more. And that is something really great. I have performed for almost more than 1000 Concerts in my 20 years of career!

Recently Bollywood Gharana had a successful gig in Mumbai. Tell us about it. How was your experience?

After working hard for almost one and half year on Bollywood Gharana, we had 25 rehearsals until now which probably very few bands of today have. Also let me introduce you to the artists of Bollywood Gharana, so there is Bhavya Pandit who is very popular among the youths. She has sung Bollywood film songs including Rani Main Toh Raja from Son Of Sardar and many more. She is doing the Bollywood part in my band and then there is another singer Gandhar Deshpande who also comes from very renowned Gharana of Classical Music is singing the classical part. Then there is Rahul Deo on Bass, Keyur Barve on Drums who is also the disciple of Taufiq Qureshi along with Guitarist Sourabh Joshi who plays with Rekha & Vishal Bharadwaj. I am not only playing keyboard but I am singing too. I am singing old Hindi songs form the70s and 80s. Also I would like to thank my label Songfest and Sa Re Ga Ma for releasing the first single and Alok Shah for supporting this venture. And special thanks to Gaurav, Oru Dagaonkar & Ryan of Songfest & Goldenmean and Sanjet for the video.

So overall bringing this together and having this as a performance at Farzi Café, Mumbai was a great experience, because there were all youth. So I was really skeptical about the thing that how would they take it as my music is mostly heard by 30+ audience because I am into that kind of music. But the youngsters they just freaked out and the place had this different vibe during the concert as people were cheering for Indian classical music along with Bollywood. So, overall it was a HIT!

Finally, what's next for Bollywood Gharana?

Yes! Bollywood Gharana will be bringing new videos every month for the next 4-5 months including new songs, jamming sessions and making videos. We are ready with our one and half hour concert band too. So that’s how we are planning to roll!

Any piece of advice, you would like to give new and upcoming talent looking to make their presence felt in the music arena?

So for all the new upcoming talent just one thing, don’t ignore the 70s & 80s music because that is the music that is here to stay forever. Today’s music is only for a month or two also don’t ignore Indian classical music as it is the base of everything and do hear Bollywood Gharana as you will get flavor and fragrance of both the genres and you will simply enjoy it!

For more information, visit - www.bollywoodgharana.in

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