In 1962, at a stage set on the grounds of Darbhanga Palace, Calcutta, 12-year-old, Begum Parveen Sultana was under the spotlight as she effortlessly approached the three and a half octaves of music, which at that time only Lata Mangeshkar was considered to adept at. Now over five decades later, the Padma Bhushan recipient, classical singer recalls her journey with her fans as the most cherishing one. With multiple awards to her credit, she performed solo at her recent 100th Pratahswar music concert in Mumbai. “I am very grateful to the God and all my fans across the world, their love for classical music has kept me alive,” says Begum Parveen. The 68-year-old recalls, “I entered the music world at a very young age and sung my first song for a film at the age of 15 (for Pakeezah) but the reason that I am able to survive is because people appreciate me.”
Hailing from two most important gharanas (Patiala and Kirana) of classical music, Parveen believes that it is her responsibility to carry forward the legacy. However in her performances she never confines herself to a specific gharana. “It is important to have your own style, I have learnt from my gurus and I know when, what and how to sing but I believe in keeping my own style intact,” says the singer. For Parveen, her music is not restricted to practicing two hours a day and performing live, but her performance also involves a lot of research. “I listen to different music and do a lot of research on music,” she adds. Having won several awards and been appreciated by a large audience she believes, “Awards are responsibility to bring the music forward and I am glad that they have shown faith in me. However, my biggest award is when the audience appreciates my performance repetitively and continues to listen to classical music.” But do you still need acknowledgement for your performances? “Of course I need, I am a performing artist and I work very hard everyday, as an artist I feel suffocated if my performance is not appreciated. I assure to maintain my father Ikramul Majid’s reputation,” says the singer.
Till now her personal favourite singers remain Lata Mangeshkar, RD Burman, Madan Mohan and Kishor Kumar. “I listen to them all the day for their different melodies on different moods,” she smiles.
Concluding the conversation before heading to a recording studio she says, “If the new audience appreciates my music, it’s my success, and as a musician it’s important that I encourage the new audience to listen to the classical music.”