Starting her classical training at the age of five, this third generation musician who completed her ‘Sangeet Visharad at the age of 17 smiles, “I think I am born with music in me,” says Sanika Kulkarni.
While she got her initial training from her father, Sarod maestro Pandit Rajan Kulkarni, her mother too is a singer. “I grew up listening to music, and it became an indispensable ‘part’ of me. I could never separate it from myself. Later, I started learning from Veena Sahasrabuddhe, and had a supportive family every step,” says this Hindustani classical vocalist.
Stressing that her journey has only begun, Kulkarni, whose training under Veena has led her to learn fine techniques and nuances in Gwalior gayaki – swar lagaav, presentation of bandishes, raag vistaar, meend, gamak, and expression of raag is currently being trained by Omkar Dadarkar.
Recipient of the Yuva Gayika Puraskar and Sur Ratna Puraskar in 2020, the young singer feels that a wholesome approach needs to be discovered in order to generate funds for the classical arts. Adding that while more and more youngsters are ready to take up the classical arts as their profession, Kulkarni, who was recently a part of HCL Baithak, adds, “It is very hard to find time and space for music, and that too classical. All the impetus in the entertainment industry is shared between films, web-series or Bollywood music. Is it not anyone’s responsibility to find new avenues where traditional arts can thrive in this era?”
The lockdowns have been a time of break and space for learning and reflecting on her music. “For artists like us, who live on the wheels, this time has been very ‘new’, but eventually, we all had to accept it. Of course, digital concerts were and still are on a rise, and they have been instrumental in keeping us connected with our audience. I feel if you have a positive frame of mind, everything falls into place.”
Adding that ‘future’ for her means working everyday in order to be a fine artist and hoping to reach new audiences, Kulkarni, who looks upon Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Kumar Gandharva, Ashwini Bhide , Kaushiki Chakraborty and Niladri Kumar as her idols is glad that corporate houses like HCL are consistently encouraging the classical performing arts and giving opportunities to artists to perform. “I feel other private companies must take similar initiatives and support our heritage and artists as well.”
(Sukant Deepak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)