Musician and music producer Vinayak Gupta grew up listening to music. As a child, he remembers waking up to the voice of his mother, classical vocalist Vinita Gupta, known for khayal gayan and also semi-classical forms such as thumri and bhajan. As his mother would do her riyaaz, Vinayak, as a five-year-old, would “accompany” her on his keyboard. Those were his first lessons in understanding the intricacies of music.
More than two decades later, 32-year-old Vinayak is reinterpreting his initial lessons in music in a unique format with Khayaal — The Band. It has Chandigarh-based Vinita singing with her son, along with other seasoned musicians, to present Indian classical fusion music. “Khayaal means a thought or idea and with this band we want to understand varied thoughts on music and take Indian classical music to a younger audience by presenting it in a new format. My mother is presenting traditional Hindustani compositions and different musicians are playing Indian and western instruments, and interpreting the bandish in their own way. I am not a pure classical singer but I am inspired by the Hindustani style,” says Vinayak, who has a wide range of musical influences, ranging from rock to funk and fusion jazz. He has done keyboard sessions for artistes such as Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean, and was the keyboard player for the Hindi rock band Euphoria from 2010 to 2017.
Over the years, Vinayak has also been involved with music production and produced the album Seven-Aditya Jassi on Universal Records. Vinayak says for years he had been dreaming of creating something new with his mother. “We also wanted to change the perception of Indian classical music being very serious. We want to present the richness of this tradition in a manner that appeals to a wider audience and doesn’t intimidate them, without compromising on the purity,” adds Vinayak. With his mother, he has released an EP Inflections, featuring well-known musicians from the Delhi music circuit, including Sunny Dutta, Vaibhav Singh, Rajat Verma and Mayank Raina. He wants to launch Khayaal on YouTube.
Vinita has learnt music from the late Sharayu Kalekar and Vidushi Sulochana Brahaspati of the Rampur Sadarang lineage, and has performed at various prestigious platforms across the country. She is also the honorary secretary of the prestigious Indian National Theatre (a society for the promotion of art and Indian culture) in Chandigarh. “We sing only with the tanpura, and singing with an ensemble of musicians playing the guitar, sitar, saxophone, drums, flute, bass guitar was a bit of a challenge. Our music is melody-based and not harmony-based, so there were apprehensions. When I understood his philosophy that we need to reach people who have not been exposed to classical music, I decided to explore a new path,” says Vinita, adding that the show will present reinterpretations of traditional raag-based compositions, Sufi poetry and ghazals.
The band will perform on November 17 at Bal Bhawan, Sector 23, Chandigarh