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‘I took music for granted’

Rupanwita Bhattacharjee |

An Indian singer, composer and record producer from Assam, Angarag Mahanta, known by his stage name Papon loves experimenting with different sounds. Having been born into a family of music, he was destined to be a part of the larger musical family.

In 2007, he started his own electronic folk-fusion band, “Papon and the East India Company” and performed at various music festivals around the world. The Moh Moh Ke Dhage singer was in Kolkata recently to launch the city’s first Forever 21 at South City mall. Excerpts from an interview:

Q. You’ve already made your debut in acting for an Assamese movie. How about doing films for Bollywood?

I am still in talks with Nagesh Kukunoor regarding a film he spoke to me about. I am quite intrigued by the process of acting, of taking on another character or personality which I am not like in real life.

Q. Your greatest inspiration in folk music has been your parents. Your father was a folk singer himself. Anybody else you’d like to talk about in terms of taking inspiration from? Do you have a favourite folk artist?

I am inspired by things I read, hear. Good music, not just folk music inspires me — it could be someone new, someone legendary. There are no particular inspirations.

Q. If not a singer, what else would you have become?

I used to paint a lot when I was really young, and this lead to perspective drawings. Initially, maybe because I took music for granted, it did not excite me as much. But then just as I was getting into it, my cousin who couldn’t follow music as he chose architecture told me that to understand and practice music is a gift of God, and that it was far superior to anything else one can learn in life. So, here’s where I am. Today, I feel that if I hadn’t found music, I would have become a farmer. I would still like to become a farmer.

Q. Shed light upon your stage name Papon. Most Bengalis and Assamese have a pet name. Was this your pet name or is it a name you gave to yourself?

It’s my pet name, and also easier to remember.

Q. What can your fans expect in the years to come? What are the current projects you are working on?

A lot of things happened in 2017 that I didn’t plan and whatever I had planned will now come out in 2018, so there’s lot in store this year. I am getting into composing music for a Bollywood project. That’s a new direction for me and I am also looking forward to working on my ghazal album, which while I don’t know when I will finish. I am also thinking of collaborating with a few international artists so let’s see how things go.

Q. You started a band “Papon and The East India Company”. Do you have plans surrounding the band in terms of performances or releasing songs?

The band is now called Papon. It’s the same band, same set of boys. We decided to change the name to cut down any confusion when it came to bookings and the styles of music that we play. The band is in cold storage as of now, but they still play with me.