It was a good thing Akashdeep Sengupta moved from Kolkata to Mumbai. In the filmi capital, his passion for music saw the young man compose music for tracks in a variety of Hindi films. Scores from “Kalank,” “Behen Hogi Teri,” “Shaadi Mein Zaroor Ana,” “1920 London,” “Loveyatri,” “Bhangda Paa Le,” “Badhai Ho” are all reminders of his talent.
Sengupta comes from a family of musicians, his father and uncles are being singers, and so he grew up surrounded by music. He regularly won prizes for singing, usually placing first or second in singing competitions in Kolkata.
“It was not until I was 16 that I started thinking about music as a professional career,” Sengupta says. “I was told by many people that I could do better than just singing in smaller concerts. I had also met singer Hariharan. When I sung a few lines he appreciated my singing skills and I felt very encouraged.”
When he was 18, Akashdeep decided to move to Mumbai to pursue a career in music.
“I had been learning Hindustani classical music from the age of 10, mainly doing vocal training and semi-classical music. Then I started learning about studio music, and to understand how music is recorded in a studio.”
Despite the family also sporting a great many doctors and engineers, his parents supported his decision to move instead of cajoling him to take of the standard entrance exams for professional training.
“I joined Bhavan’s college [in Mumbai] for my graduation, and everything was very new,” Sengupta says. “From 2012 to 2015, I looked for work, visiting studios, submitting song demos and reaching out to people in the music field. I got an internship at a recording studio in Mumbai called Promethean Audio that was owned by singer and composer Arjun Kanungo where I learned a lot about studio music while assisting sound engineer Ashwin. In 2015, Ashwin moved to Pritam Da’s [music composer Pritam Chakraborty] studio. He called me for a vocal arrangement for “Dangal.” After the audition, I got hired as Pritam’s assistant and started working with him.”
The Right Notes
In 2016, Sengupta was among the first artistes to be signed by Pritam’s JAM8, an A&R (artists and repertoire) company.
“Pritam persuaded Kaushik [another composer] and me to compose two songs, “Gumnaam Hai Koi” and “Aafreen” for “1920 London,” which was also the first film where we composed as a duo,” Sengupta says. “Guddu, Kaushik’s brother, joined us, and as a trio we have worked on composing songs like “Sajan Bade Senti” from “Badhai Ho” and also for “Loveyatri.” This really helped nurture our music skills. After this, I also sang several jingles, including for the COVID-19 campaign.”
Sengupta’s big singing break came when he sang “Aira Gaira” from “Kalank” for Pritam, along with Javed Ali, Antara Mitra and Tushar Joshi. After this, the composing team parted ways to pursue their individual musical interests, while keeping open the option of working together again.
“I have done two or three solo albums after that, and we do collaborate when we meet as well,” Sengupta says. He is quite excited about the trio’s composition for “Sooryavanshi,” a film starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, which is slated to release this Diwali.
“I cannot tell you much about the song. It was all set to release in March and then it went on hold,” Sengupta says. “All I can say it is an original song, and this was the last song we have composed as a trio.”
Sengupta admits that his music is inspired by the culture he grew up with in Bengal. He looks up to artistes like Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Manna De, Ghulam Ali, Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan, Sonu Nigam and Arijit Singh.
“All these people are great examples of how one can work and come up in the field of music,” he says.
Also, my mentor, Pritam Da, is someone who I have no words to thank [enough]. I used to follow his work as a child and now I am working with him and it has been wonderful.”
Sengupta says it is his dream to collaborate with Coldplay.
“I really want to reach that stage of my life where I can work with the entire band, including Chris Martin and his team,” he says. “I believe it will not just be a learning experience but the experience of a lifetime. I also hope to collaborate with Selena Gomez as she is a brilliant artist who has some superb numbers under her belt as a singer and as a producer.”
Of his ultimate purpose, Sengupta says, “It has always been to be a successful playback singer in Bollywood and lend my voice to many songs, doing justice to the compositions that come my way.”
Speaking about the ongoing debate about nepotism in Bollywood, he says that he has not faced it personally.
“I was nobody when I came to Mumbai and believe I still am a nobody, but whenever I work, and it is good, I have always been praised by everyone,” Sengupta says. “It has never happened that I have lost opportunities because I am an outsider. I believe that hard work, patience and perseverance will hold you in good stead and take you towards the goal that you want to achieve.”
The pandemic has impacted his work, though, and so he has launched a YouTube channel where he focuses on singing in an animated fashion.
“I want to establish myself as a successful singer in Bollywood and am working on some covers for my channel,” he says.
For now, he is on track for that.