Rendezvous with Shankuraj Konwar: Hitting the right notes

Singing sensation, the latest heartthrob Shankuraj Konwar bares his heart out in a conversation with Pranati Sinha. Ki-Bedonate, Nakhyatra-fame singer-composer talks about life in Mumbai, Westlife, Bhupen Hazarika and handling female attention. Read on…

Singer, songwriter and composer Shankuraj Konwar has won hearts with his mellifluous voice.

Born in Udalguri and now settled in Jorhat, Shankuraj shared that he grew up listening to songs of Bhupen Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika, Dipali Borthakur, Jiten Deka, Ridip Dutta, Charu Gohain Loknath Goswami and the likes.

He draws inspiration from his own experiences.

His song Nakhyatra has garnered over 18 lakh views on YouTube.

In an interview with TIME8, Shankuraj talks about his journey and future projects. Read on…

  • You have become the latest heartthrob with your song Ki Bedonate. Tell us something about your journey…

Shankuraj: I wrote Ki Bedonate way back in 2014. After several failed attempts, I released the song in 2017.

The entire song was produced in the library of my college in Mumbai where I was pursuing my post graduation course. I clearly remember that everyone would dig into their books and assignments in the library but I would wear my headphones and start producing the song. It has been a memorable journey.

  • How was your childhood like?

Shankuraj: It was a happy-go-lucky childhood. I was born in Tangla, Udalguri but due to my father’s job, we had to move around a lot. We stayed in Khairabari, Rowta, Mangaldoi and later settled in Jorhat in 1995.

One of my cousins used to take classes in classical singing at home. I would always sit beside her during the classes and her riyaz sessions. She is one of my biggest inspirations.

My other cousins were into western music. Together, we would listen to Michael Jackson, MLTR, Beatles, Backstreet Boys, Westlife, N Sync, Eminem and a lot of rock music as well. It was an era of stereo players and walkman!

My parents also love music. They used to archive the songs of Bhupen Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika, Dipali Borthakur, Jiten Deka, Ridip Dutta, Charu Gohain Loknath Goswami and a lot of old Hindi songs. I was always surrounded by music.

  • What made you choose singing as your career?

Shankuraj:  I never thought of taking up singing as a career even though I love singing. Singing has always been my passion and I have been into it since I was a child. I also used to compose quite often along with my cousins just for fun. But Ki Bedonate changed everything…not because of the response it has received but because of the realization that I had it in me to atleast compose, write and produce my own songs and that became an addiction.

I draw my inspirations from my own experiences that I have shared with the people I adore the most.

  • What’s the story behind the ‘Baartalaap’ project?

Shankuraj:  ‘Baartalaap’ was co-founded in 2017 by Maitrayee Patar and me just before the release of Ki Bedonate. It is an independent label.

The name is inspired from the endless conversations on various ideas and sometimes mundane topics that we both share. Every song we listen to is, in fact, a conversation and ‘Baartalaap’ tries to justify that.

Ki Bedonate is a conversation with our own self, Bhatiyali xopun is a conversation with dreams, Lorali is a conversation with childhood and so on.

  • How’s life in Mumbai?

Shankuraj: Life in Mumbai is pretty chilled out. I love the city and the professionalism here. The city makes you disciplined.

  • Collaboration with Abhi Saikia and Maitrayee Patar

Shankuraj: After the release of Ki Bedonate, Abhi Saikia approached me for collaboration and sent me a few demos. It was one of the demos that I composed and wrote the lyrics which finally took shape of Jolopropat and the rest is history.

Well with Maitrayee, I have written a couple of duet songs which will be released in 2019. Four more songs will be released by ‘Baartalaap’. We are also working on our new album.

  • Ki Bedonate is all about melancholy…

Shankuraj: Yes…the song embraces the melancholy sprouting from the traces of existentialism that we all come across at some point in life.   

  • Is Shankuraj a romantic at heart…

Shankuraj: (Laughs) Ah! Well, I am a private person and if someone likes the idea of a person who spends most of his time in a room with a laptop, piano and papers scattered all over the floor…then may be, I am a romantic.

  • Your song Nakhyatra is a chart-buster…

Shankuraj: It’s a song which promotes peace and brotherhood. The song is a protest against all the wrongdoings in our society. You will find elements of love, resentment and anger in the song.

  • Your personal preferences are…

Shankuraj: Bhupen Hazarika’s music is something I always enjoy decoding and it really helps in my songwriting. His music is undoubtedly progressive.

  • How do you deal with female attention?

Shankuraj: Well, I am grateful to them for liking my music and I try my best to acknowledge the love and appreciation.

  • Your upcoming projects

Shankuraj: I will debut as a music director in the film Across the paddy fields.

  RAPID FIRE

  • Favourite singer: Jeff Buckley
  • Favourite band: Porcupine Tree
  • Favourite song: Lost Boy by Midnight
  • Onstage memory: When the entire crowd sang and danced to Nakhyatra at Shilpgram in Guwahati
  • A song you would sing on a date: I will follow you into the dark

[Photographs: Ridip Saikia & Dhritiman]