You don’t need to look too far sometimes to get interesting stories. Such was the case with me as the person of whom I am writing about is my colleague. Meet Uttama Chakroborty, a girl who works as an HR employee, but would quit her job any day if given an opportunity to take up singing as a career. She is the person who helped me a lot in adjusting to the new city, Kolkata for my fellowship with Milaap. And she is the type of girl who will go the extra mile to help anyone. She also has a nice sense of humour and a kind of nature that people like. It was an evening after the field visit one day that I came to know about her talent in singing. She sang casually on someone’s request and here is a video on that: Uttama accompanies me on my field visits and helps me by translating the borrower’s language into a language that I can understand, among other things. One day when we were waiting for the rain to stop in a carpenter’s shop, I took the opportunity to know more about her singing. She started learning to sing since she was studying in 2nd class. Before that, she used to learn from her mother, later she got enrolled with a private tutor. She is still learning from a tutor- still learning new things in every class. She will appear for her 5th year exams of Rabindra Sangeeth, and has already appeared for 3rd year exams of vocal classical music from Chandigarh Board. She learns one song from her tutor every week and sings it to her the next week. This way she learns from her mistakes. She has received a distinction a few times, apart from the usual first class.Her mother used to play the radio to make her quiet when she was young. She used to be quiet till the radio was on, and that Uttama says may be the starting point of her interest in singing. She continued learning in her 10th standard, 12th standard and college. Along with doing her job, teaching the kids, doing the household work, she continues to learn how to sing. “I cannot live without singing”, says Uttama.She cleared a few rounds of the TV show ‘Sa re ga ma pa’ in Bengali. She has won lots of prizes in competitions in school and college. She has also participated in a few TV shows and she now sings for a Bengali radio channel. Money is not a big thing; she says exposure and the chance to perform is more important. She knows how to play the harmonium, the keyboard and a little bit of the guitar. Her mother enrolled her into singing, dancing and drawing classes when she was young. It is only singing that she continued. She wanted to do a Bachelors in Music, but her father didn’t allow saying that it wasn’t a very stable career option, and got her to study something else; although her parents support her music interest as a hobby. She also performs in local festivals now. On asking her what she would do if she gets an offer to be a part of the music industry, she says she will quit her job happily; even if the payment is lesser as compared to what she gets now. Shreya Ghoshal, Lata Mangeshkar, Rafi, Shaan and Sonu Nigam are some of her idols.
I can't live without singing