Internet Sensation Antara Nandy talks about her playback debut in Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan: I

Her debut track Alaikadal was dubbed in four languages namely Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada
Antara Nandy
Antara Nandy

Anyone who regularly scrolled through Facebook and Instagram during the pandemic must have come across The Nandy Sisters’ Balcony Concert videos that extensively covered Bollywood classics alongside evergreen multilingual tunes. It wasn’t just Antara and Ankita’s voices that made the mark, but their unique presentations. The elder one of the two- Antara Nandy isn’t new to fame as she was just 10 years old when she made it as one of the finalists in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’L Champs in 2009. Her patience and efforts have finally borne fruits as she is all set to debut as a playback singer in Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan: I. Her debut track Alaikadal was dubbed in four languages namely Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and has been composed by none other than the legendary A R Rahman. Antara shares with us her experience of debuting with legends, challenges of dubbing in multiple languages and Durga Puja plans.

Tell us about your debut with A R Rahman

One of the earliest memories of music that I have includes A R Rahman as I used to literally worship him every day. I met him for the first time when I was 14 as I got to train in his academy KM Music Conservatory, and a few years later I was also a part of a YouTube show called ARrived, where he was the chief judge. My first association with A R Rahman was in 2019 as I recorded Nis Din with Jonita Gandhi, composed by him and since then I have been working with him on and off. I have also been singing a lot of scratches for him for the past few years. Even though I was extremely happy about singing scratches for Rahman sir, I also sometimes wished one of them to be finalised for a film but never expected it so as to not disappoint myself. I had recorded the Tamil scratch for Alaikdal less than forty minutes, almost two years back and never really expected it to be finalised but as luck would have it, it got finalised just a week ahead of the audio release. Eventually I also dubbed the song in other three languages. I honestly don’t have enough words to express how I feel about it, as this is the moment I have been looking forward to throughout my life. This literally happened at a time when I had almost given up hopes of getting to do a playback, since I have been trying for so long and even got replaced twice after confirmation.

What are the challenges of singing in multiple languages?

When I sing in languages known to me, I understand the meaning of it and get the opportunity to emote accordingly. For a language I don’t know, for instance Tamil, it has a lot of pronunciations that does not exist in our languages. Singing is not just about hitting the right notes; it has a lot of intricacies that a singer has to pay heed to when singing in multiple languages. It does become a little stressful in a recording studio, as one is expected to get things right within a limited number of takes.

Do you wish to playback in Bengali anytime soon?

It’s been a dream since I was brought up in Kolkata and spent fourteen years there. Kolkata is one of the most culturally rich cities and I really wish to give back to the place I have grown up in. However, I was really young to try for playback when I was there and secondly also experienced something bitter when I was 14. I was undergoing a transitional phase due to which my voice was affected and it was around this time that I also recorded a piece for a well-known composer in the city. He slammed me for not having a sweet, twitty voice and discouraged me from singing thereafter. This intimidated me somewhat and I refused to try my luck out in Kolkata. Luckily it was also around this time that I got an opportunity to train at A R Rahman’s academy.

What are your Durga Puja plans?

We usually plan a trip back to Kolkata every year during the Pujas, but since it is not as big in Maharashtra, Ankita will be busy with her college exams around that time. We will however be gathering with the Bengali community here for the special five days.

What are you working on currently?

I am working on a couple of my own originals. People have known me primarily as a classical singer, but with my upcoming originals I wish to step out of my comfort zone and also offer something new to my audiences. I am also singing scratches for a few renowned music directors and keeping my fingers crossed for the time being.

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