Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Date of birth: November 24
Place of birth: Guwahati
Home town: Guwahati
School/college: Kendriya Vidyalaya, Khanapara / Delhi University
First break: The launch of Jonaki Raati, my debut album in Guwahati in December 2005
High point: The love and recognition that I got for Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, plus the time when my parents joined me on stage for a show at the British Council in Delhi
Low point: When your statements are misconstrued and my fans get the wrong message, that hurts
How has the Indian music scene changed over the years?
There’s lots happening in the music scene today − people are reaching out to us across borders, and that is a great feeling. The kind of support we are getting from the industry and its entire scale is phenomenal. I’m sure that it will encourage newer artists to join the scene; it will only get better from here.
Success for you is...
To be able to do exactly what you want to, without having to compromise on your vision and quality. To be able to sustain yourself while staying true to that vision is the ultimate success.
Your advice to young musicians starting out in the industry.
I would tell them to be themselves first. Recognise your positives and limitations, get to know your boundaries and work on them instead of emulating anyone.
The best concert you have attended, both as an audience member and an artiste…
The one show I will never forget is when I watched Santana play in Chicago. Among my gigs, it would have to be the one at The Paleo Festival in Switzerland back in 2009, where I performed with Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale.
Bollywood to you is…
A potpourri of different styles and personalities. It’s also where we make great films and great music.
A celebrity you would love to perform with…
Make it two. I would love to perform with Chris Martin and Norah Jones. And why just perform, I’d want to meet them over some wine and great conversation.
Who, according to you, is the most well-dressed musician?
He may no longer be with us but I’d vote for Prince. His unique personality shone through not just his music but his clothes as well.
The most romantic thing you have ever done for your wife.
Every time I do something which I think is romantic, she isn’t too floored. Once I got home a small bird nest, and she thought that it was cute.
If you had to interview any personality, who would it be and why?
Bjork, the Icelandic singer-songwriter and genius. I find her very fascinating.
Things you never leave your home without.
My phone, wallet, keys and yes, a hug from my children.
The song you have composed in the shortest period of time and how so?
I think it would have to be the song Zindagi aisi waisi for the film I Am Kalam (2011).
A habit you would like to break.
I sleep late at night and wake up late in the morning. I’d like to change that.
What do you think makes a band tick?
You have to be friends first. Also, everyone should be a little different from the other and yet, the core philosophy must be the same! Besides this, you need a lot of patience and have to treat each other with love and respect.
The worst thing about the entertainment industry today.
Everyone here is in a hurry and there’s a lot of insecurity. This is why when people don’t get results right away, it stops them from doing new things and they end up using the safe, proven formula once again.
The sweetest thing your family has done for you.
They just let me be. And giving me that space is the best thing they could’ve done for me.
What’s your worst nightmare?
That my children will have to live on a planet where the air won’t be fit to breathe.
A passion of yours that not many people know of…
I’m very fond of painting and I love photography.
Your resolution for the coming year.
To finish my untitled ghazal album. That’s definitely on top of my to-do list.
Your proudest moment in life?
When my dad finally felt that I was making the right kind of music. His approval meant a lot to me. This was two years after Jonaki Raati got critical acclaim, back in 2007-2008.
What would you want to be remembered as after you are gone?
As an honest, simple and intelligent person.
All-time favourite band: Pink Floyd, no doubt.
Holiday destination: Anywhere in the Himalayas... Their sheer expanse never fails to overwhelm me.
Musician: It would have to be my parents, Khagen and Archana Mahanta, because of the purity of their music and their spiritual approach to it.
From HT Brunch, December 11
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