An interview with Odia singer Tansen Singh

Tansen Singh is the singer of Odia unforgettable tracks like Jhumka tike tuta haeli de, Chanda Naa Tume Taara, Mu Je Eka Pagala Bhanra, Nupura Kahinki Mu, Sagarakule dine

‘Jhumka tike tuta haeli de, Rumjhum Kari tike bajei de’ – No Oriya can deny he has not listened to this song. Besides, the singer has a number of unforgettable Oriya film songs like ‘Nupura Kahinki Mu, Bandhibi’, ‘Mu Je Eka Pagala Bhanra’, ‘Chanda Naa Tume Taara’ to his credit. His name itself says he must be a great singer. Meet Tansen Singh, the legendary Oriya singer. We chatted with the voice master to register his elongated journey as a singer.

Tansen Singh
Odia singer Tansen Singh

Born to late Gloriana and late Ruben Singh of women’s College lane in Nayagarh on April 13 146, on the day of Pana Sankranti, Tansen has three brothers named Ranjan, Ratan, Rajan and two sisters Surabhi and Purabi. Unlike his name suggests the 71 year old singer is a protestant Christian. The unfortunate singer lost his father 23 December 2003 and mother on February 4 this year. He married Rebika on November 27 1973 but she passed away January 12 2007. He intimated he spent around five lakh rupees, the saving he had made for years, but couldn’t save her. He has two sons Sobham and Uttam and a daughter Supriya. Tansen passed matric from Brajendra High School (1964) and then completed graduation from Nayagarh College in Nayagarh district. In 1972 he joined Orissa Forest Corporation as a LD assistant and placed in Jhanjiri Mangala in Cuttack from where his career as a film singer began. Later he was promoted as a UD assistant and took VRS in 1999.

“My father was a football coach. Besides, he was also a singer of depth from whom perhaps I have inherited the art of singing. My mother, although was a house wife, was a violinist. She was a fan of Bengali films and so named my sons and daughters accordingly (Sobham, Uttam & Supriya),” emotional Tansen intimated.

About his beginning of the career the versatile singer said, “I got the first chance to playback in 1974. J Adini, the director cum music director of film ‘Anutap’ invited me to sing the unforgettable number ‘Nupura Kahinki Mu Bandhili’. My specialty is that like Kishore da, I also use to generate a variety of odd vocal sounds besides singing. Once I was singing in a stage show in Badambadi and was also doing ‘hudlei’, the unique style of Kishore da. A music director heard me there, got impressed and assigned me for his film ‘Chinha Achinha’ for which I sang the song ‘Jhumka tike tuta halei de’.”

“Later I sang ‘Are Mo Lachakbali’ for film ‘Arati’ which was also a hit. Then Musheer, best known for composing tracks of ‘Samar Salim Saiman’ invited me. I sang ‘Mu Je Eka Pagala Bhanra’ for his film. In this way I was given songs one after one and so far has given voice in 27 films to sing more than hundred songs. Besides, including the non-filmy and devotional numbers I have sang around 2000 songs so far. I got the status of an approved singer from All India Radio, Cuttack in 1978 and lately my name has gone for the A high grade recommendation. The last film for which I gave voice was ‘Tume Hi Saathi Mora’ in 2014. I sang a duet ‘Kanha’ along with Tapu Mishra in the film,” the veteran intimated about his elongated career.

Narrating an old memorable moment Tansen said, “Once Akshay Mohanty had come to our school. I was very eager to meet him but our Class monitor did not allow me to go near him. The obsession some way or other fueled me to become a singer some day. On another occasion, I was recording the song ‘Asa kie khaiba Ama rajaghara khana’ for the film ‘Akshya Trutiya’ in Kolkata. The song was about tasty foods of different places of Orissa. After a line I produced a ‘tak’ (a vocal sound that is produced if someone feels the food extremely tasty). The recordist stopped recording and wanted to know whether there was any noise-jerk. He replayed the recording and found the sound is a fantastic one and it was produced by the singer. The sound was kept in the original song and there I was given five hundred rupees for the extraordinary effort.”

Tansen travelled the United States in 2006 to perform. He said, “During the performance in Merry land I was given the epithet ‘Melody King’.”

So, was the young Tansen performed in his native place prior to his entry into films? He said, “I am very fond of Opera, circus and drama. In Nayagarh I was asked to sing the ‘Duniya Re samyara nai bahijaere’ during the dramas.”

Tansen Singh with lyricist Mohit Chakraborty and singer Antara

“I love my mother very much. And I don’t have any enemy because I also love the person who even hates me. I want to make others laugh at the cost of my tears,” he said.

Asked whether he has loved a girl Tansen said, “Yes, I have. And the romantic feel that you can feel in my songs is thanks to the love.”

Besides singing, Tansen is also very good at mimicry and sayari. He said, “I had told my love a sayari and she was impressed. It was – agar nadi pe nahana he, to nadi ke bich mein aao, kinare pe rakha kya hei. Muhabbat karna hei to baho mein aao, isare pe rakha kya hei. Sometimes in the stage shows I also imitate CM Naveen Patnaik and earn admiration from the audience.”

Asked what is the difference between the old and new songs Tansen said, “These days music directors have become a toy in the hands of directors and producers. I mean they are given less freedom and needed to compose as per the wish of the producer and director, which often ends resulting bad.”

Tansen has also founded the Tansen Singh Foundation. Asked to convey a message to the new and budding singers he said, “The new singers should ask to change the lines of any lyrics, which let down dignity of the society.”

Also read: ‘Abhinetri’ Makes Audience Laughing Out Loud

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