The ancient and the contemporary

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 15 November 2018

Bollywood Gharana, formed by Abhijit Pohankar is an experience of foot tapping and stylish mix of two genres of music — Indian classical and Bollywood. The musician explains it to us

Abhijit Pohankar, an internationally renowned musician, who is considered as the face of new age Indian music, has launched a music tour called Bollywood Gharana in India. Pohankar, son of legendary classical vocalist Ajay Pohankar, is known as one of the first musicians to make Indian classical music cool and accessible to youngsters, by beautifully giving it a Bollywood twist. 

Abhijit and his band present a unique fusion of Bollywood hits with Indian classical music. The band is popular for creating and performing fusion hits like Piya Tu Ab To Aaja, Tere Bina Jiya Jaye Na, Pari Hoon Main and more. 

The band features vocals, harmonium / keys, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, congas (Latin percussions) and drums along with featured artists on trumpets and steel flute. The ancient Indian classical bandishes (compositions) sung on a groove and mixed with Bollywood retro and modern songs make this sound unique and engrossing. Here’s chatting up Pohankar... 

- How would you describe Bollywood Gharana? Why did you feel that there is a need to merge the classical and the contemporary?
I would describe it as a seamless fusion of Indian classical music and Bollywood hits. Our renditions are unusual and simply put, they are Bollywood numbers reimagined through classical beats. 
The world of music is changing and Bollywood Gharana is meant especially for young music lovers — we put a classical spin to their favourite Bollywood hits making it more relatable and contemporary. 

- Why did you go the ‘fusion way’? What does it take to be fusion artist?
My music journey has always been rooted in Indian classical beats but with exposure I received to different styles of music around the world — right from pop to jazz, I was inspired to do more and go beyond the known realms of music that we know here in India. The best part about fusion music is that you can experiment and take in your own direction, unlike classical where you have to abide by the rules. Here, I follow the rules of classical music but in a very melodious way which is widely appreciated by music lovers.  

- What has been the impact of Bollywood Gharana on the youth?
Anyone who attends a Bollywood Gharana show, leaves with a unique experience. We recently performed at Whistling Woods International Institute, a school promoted by filmmaker Subhash Ghai, to share the Bollywood Gharana experience with young music enthusiasts, and they loved it! With this new twist to music, I am reaching out to a completely new audience who wants to enjoy music in different expressions and appreciates new music.

- How do you select the numbers and the instruments to create fusion?
Well, I select ragas and weave a song at a particular scale around that raga. I choose ragas according to what I feel is best-sounding and merges seamlessly as not all ragas are suitable for fusion music. 

It takes a lot of time, effort and re-working but the end results are amazing. I use lots of guitar sounds on my keyboard  and also use a harmonium to give it a very organic and beautiful sound that youngsters can appreciate.

- What influence did your father have on you as a musician?
Music is in my blood as I was born into a family of musicians and singers. My father is one of the greatest living legends of Indian classical music. He performed all my earlier hits like Piya Bavri, Sajanwa and Payaliyaan and so many more. I have been always thankful to him for being my father and being with me in the earlier part of my musical journey.

- What are your future plans?
We have a lot of plans lined up. We  will be releasing our second single of Bollywood Gharana soon. We are going to tour all over the world and we are already scheduled to perform in Bangkok and several other cities soon.

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