Soumyadeep Murshidabadi, 23, Musician on moving from Kolkata to Mumbai.
What brought you to Mumbai?
I came here in 2011, as part of a singing reality show called Sur Sangram. After that, I participated in another reality show, Sur Kshetra, which pitted teams from India against musicians from Pakistan. After the show ended, I stayed back in Mumbai. I have been singing for almost 16 years and Ustad Rashid Khan has been my guru. However, I wanted to move out of Kolkata as I wanted to explore music beyond what I had been trained in. The Urdu scene there is quite dull and people mostly only listen to Rabrindasangeet. People in Mumbai are more open to accepting other forms.
What were your first impressions of the city?
The day I got off at CST station, I was scared. Everything looked overwhelming. Because I was part of the show then, accommodation was taken care of, so that wasn’t an immediate threat. However, after I got eliminated from the contest, I had to move out. Finding a house was not easy. Rents are quite steep, so, I decided to stay as a paying guest in Santacruz. The initial years were tough but also exciting. I had an interesting experience while travelling in the Virar local train. There are these groups of commuters who sing and play musical instruments and once, I just started singing along. It was amazing!
How did your music career flourish?
Sur Kshetra was a huge show — I got to perform in front of stalwarts like Asha Bhonsle, Ghulam Ali and Abida Parveen. I also interacted with participants specialising in different genres, so it opened quite a few doors. I’ve actually stumbled upon some great opportunities in Mumbai, which would probably be impossible elsewhere. I was once jamming at Prithvi Theatre’s cafe and the next day, I got a call saying Shashi Kapoor wanted me to compose music for one of their plays. I met a guy from Italy who has been living in Mumbai, and plays the sarod. He is now a part of my band, Murshidabadi Project.
Tell us more about The Murshidabadi Project.
It’s a four-piece sufi acoustic band. I’m from Murshidabad in West Bengal, so that explains the band’s name. In fact, I don’t want to forget my roots, so I use Murshidabadi as my last name. We refrain from singing Bollywood music. Our songs are a mix of Urdu and Hindi. Aside from original compositions, we also perform Khusro’s kalams and classical bandishes.
Do you consider yourself a Mumbaikar now?
Oh, I love this city. The food is bad, but the music scene is great. In fact, for the Durga Puja festivities recently, all my Bengali friends went to Kolkata, but I stayed back. I’m also a filmmaker, so even for working on my documentaries, Mumbai is a great place to be.