Born in 1989, Sayani Palit began classical training at the age of four and continues to learn under Guru Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and Padma Bhushan awardee Girija Devi. With Bachelor&’s and Master&’s degrees in the genre from Calcutta University, she is a regular performer with All India Radio. After winning the Benadryl Big Golden Voice of India Season II title, which was judged by Shankar Mahadevan, she was given the opportunity to sing in his movies and has recorded playbacks for Mahadevan&’s upcoming album Katti Batti. Having also recorded for Hanuman.com, Proloy, Pendulam, Singur, Jhankar, KD to KY, Ferari Mon, Raag Anurag, Faande, Bidwesh and more, she has performed at many prestigious events such as the Indo-Bangladesh Inclusive Cultural Festival, organised by NIP, and shared the stage with Anurag Basu to celebrate the gala evening of Goodricke Ummeed ka pyala.

She&’s also jammed with legends like Bickram Ghosh, Tanmoy Bose and Susmit Sen (Indian Ocean) and is now composing music. With three albums to her credit — Sur Prabaha, Prayas and Khwahishain — the latter her latest self-composed Hindi contemporary music venture, it&’s evident she has a range that includes indipop, folk, ghazal and experimental. Excerpts:

What do you sing apart from classical and in classical what&’s your gharana?

I’ve been a classical singer and learner for the last 20 years under Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Chandana Chakraborty and I belong to the Patiala gharana. Till 2014, I was a scholar of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy where I got the chance to train for two years under Girija Deviji in thumri and learned a little about the Banaras gharana. I love to sing different genres like romantic, Bollywood songs, Sufi, ghazals and thumridadra. I believe that to be a musician one must get the flavours of different styles because this helps one develop and acquire a cutting edge that aids creativity.

As a regular performing artist with All India Radio, how do you prepare before going live?

All India Radio is a very traditional platform and my preparation remains very simple. I try to  keep the essence of classical and not experiment too much. For different projects, I change the way I sing, depending on what&’s expected of me, but also keep my classical base intact.

Who has been the biggest influence and force behind your journey?

My guru, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty.

From learning under him and Girija Devi to doing playback for Katti Batti for Mahadevan, what has it been like so far?

Very interesting. I don’t come from a musical background but love performing in different genres and experimenting. I started playback in Bengali films from 2011 and then for movies like Hanuman.com and Proloy, to name a few. Then suddenly I got to learn about 92.7 Big FM&’s talent hunt show titled Benadryl BIG Golden Voice Season 2, which was to be judged by Shankar Mahadevanji. To be honest, before this I never believed much in reality talent hunt shows but the reason I went and auditioned was because Shankarji was the judge. The next I knew is that I was declared the winner from Kolkata; then I win in the West Bengal region and make the top 12. The journey turned into a fairytale when I was declared winner of the title and then recorded for KattiBatti. I would like to thank 92.7 Big FM for this initiative and the platform they provide in promoting true talent and original music.

What was the biggest lesson Shankar Mahadevan taught you?

Recording for him, Ehsaan and Loy was something I always dreamed of. Shankarji made me very comfortable and told me to sing from the heart and not be too technical. The moment you sing from within, you will be able to connect with your listeners and the song will automatically be a hit. A singer must learn to feel the song and be simple in his/her approach.

Your favourite composer and singer?

There are many to name but I will mention AR Rahman, Shankar Mahadevan for promoting offbeat music in Bollywood and Jeet Ganguly for creating so many melodies. Then there is the eternal Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle, among the contemporaries, and also Arjit Singh, Chinmay Tripathi and Kaushiki Chakraborty.

What&’s your biggest strength apart from your obvious talent?

That would be my family and dedication and sincerity towards my work. As I said earlier, I’m not from a musical background and don’t have a godfather in the industry. And I have still a long way to go.