#WhereAreThey Series: It would’ve been great if we continued: Pratichee Mohapatra on girl band Viva
2002 saw the rise of Viva, one of India’s first all-girl pop bands. The members comprised of Pratichee Mohapatra, Seema Ramchandani, Neha Bhasin, Mahua Kamat and Anushka Manchanda, who won the first season of one of the first reality shows in the country. After launching two albums, Viva disbanded.
Opening up on the split, Mohapatra shares, “There was a distinct indie pop scene that time which got lost after a point of time. Bollywood music took precedence. In fact, they decided to make pop music. Even radio channels didn’t support independent music. We were one among the last few to taste the indie wave. But there has always been a dearth of girl bands and that’s why everyone remembers Viva (laughs).”
But the singer wishes that the band didn’t fall apart. She says, “I don’t regret but it would’ve been great if we continued. I’m still friends with all of them. We’ve a WhatsApp group that’s called ‘Viva Forever’. Last year, we all got together during the lockdown and put out a song called Jaago Zara. It was a little thank you to all the fans who continue to love us.” Quiz her about a live Viva reunion and she says, “Maybe a concert will happen someday. Who knows!”
Following the disbanding, it was tough, reveals Mohapatra. Though she successfully released a solo album, “it wasn’t very easy to sustain after a point”. And soon, she took to live performances. “Last year, my song, Sab Ho Jaane Do, from Mirzapur 2 became a very big hit. But live gigs truly became my bread and butter. Alongside music, I modelled and was a face of a lifestyle brand,” says the singer, who lent her voice to songs in Dor (2006), Quick Gun Murugan (2009) and Angry Indian Goddesses (2015).
However, it was being diagnosed with cancer in 2011 that put a brake in her musical career: “The recovery took some time. Just when I got my bearings and started moving ahead, I got diagnosed again in 2019. And then the pandemic happened. All of these derailed things, professionally, but I took everything to my stride.”
Mohapatra had a recent release with Aao Yara, a single, penned and composed by her and released under sister, Sona Mohapatra, and Ram Sampath’s music label. Currently, she’s concentrating on writing. “Earlier, I used to feel shy share my writings but Ram has really encouraged me to do that. And Sona makes sure that I share them on Instagram,” she ends.