Ace Rabindrasangeet exponent Srabani Sen had only one choice when she was 18, taking up music as a full-time career or getting married. She chose the former. Schooled at Patha Bhavan in South Kolkata, Sen studied Geography at the Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College which is affiliated to the Calcutta University. Thereafter, she started as a journalist for a Bengali magazine before opting for a full-time career in music. Today, she has over 45 solo albums to her credit and is actively engaged in performing her genre of Tagore’s music all over the world. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfSen is the daughter of noted Rabindrasangeet exponent, Sumitra Sen, and is the younger sister of another acclaimed singer, Indrani Sen. In 2000, she was awarded the BFJA award for the best female playback singer for her soulful rendition of the song, ‘Amala Dhabala Paaley Legeche’ in director Rituparno Ghosh’s film, Utsab. Sen continues to sing in Bengali films and television serials, the latest playback song being for Kamaleshwar Mukherjee’s Khawto. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThe singer was flooded with offers from premier recording companies after Utsab and within a short span of time, she turned out to be one of the most commercially viable Rabindrasangeet singers of the present generation. Her album ‘Bhalobasha Kare Koy’ (2003) topped the charts in leading music retail outlets for over two years. Sen was invited to perform at Rabindra Mela, New Jersey, USA in 2003 followed by her phenomenal success at Doha, Qatar as the first singer to have performed Rabindrasangeet. In 2005,she was once again invited by Bangamela, Chicago, USA. Sen also performed at NABC, Detroit 2007, Bangla Utsab, Canada. Her performances in Brisbane, Sydney during her Australia tour in 2010 proved to be a success. It was in 2010 that she officially launched her choir, ‘Sphulingo’, comprising a bunch of youthful voices in the arena of Rabindrasangeet. She has directed her disciples in Kaushik Ganguly’s internationally acclaimed Arekti Premer Golpo, Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Baali where she also worked as a choir director. Here’s a freewheeling chat on what makes Srabani Sen such a popular singer:Tell us about your childhood…My sister Indrani Sen and I grew up in an environment steeped in music. I studied in Patha Bhaban and took up Music as my additional subject in Class XI and Class XII. After completing my Madhyamik Examination, I got admitted in the music school “Geetabitan” to train in Rabindrasangeet. The course was for five years. It is here that I fell in love with Tagore’s songs. The Geetabitan style of rendering Rabindrasangeet was unique – it was filled with emotion but the pronunciation was clear. Earlier my mother too nurtured my taste in music and I have imbibed her style of rendition. How did you come into the world of stage performances?When my father passed away in 1990 mother gave me two options – get married or be serious about music. I chose music. In 1992, my first music cassette, ‘Amar ekti Katha’ – was launched by Atlantic. Then there was a huge stage show, where I performed along with Kabir Suman and Argha Sen. There was no looking back.What was your experience of working with Rituparno Ghose for the film Utsab like?I was working with Debojyoti Mishra and Rituparno Ghose for my song in Utsab. In fact, Rituda was very affectionate towards me. He would often call up and ask, which song is suitable for a particular situation in a film. He has also used a number of my students as playback voice in his films. Which other film songs have you lent your voice to after Utsab?After Utsab I have sung in Hemanter Pakhi, Swapner Pheriwala, Abar Byomkesh , Sanjhbatir Rupkathara, Dekha, Kalbela and Mrs Sen. I have sung in many Bengali soaps as well. I have recently done playback for a Bengali film, Khawto.Please tell me about your plans for your music schoolSrabani Sen Music Academy is now spreading its wings outside Kolkata. We have eight branches now, including Burdwan and Konnagar since 2014. We recently had an annual show on September 18 where 450 students were on stage. On that occasion, we staged two skits, ‘Shei Ami’ and ‘Srabaner Gaan’. It is a misconception that the younger generation does not like Rabindrasangeet. It is still very popular.You are one of most popular singers of the city. Do you think the city has changed after the Trinamool Congress Government came to power in 2011?Yes, and I think it has done Kolkata a lot of good. Kolkata is a lot cleaner these days and journey by road has become far more comfortable, thanks to the swanky new flyovers and wider roads. I often travel to the smaller cities of Bengal for my performances and my road journeys have become easier. Would you like to give any message for young and talented artistes?It is very important to find the right guru who will show you the correct path. Also, when you find one, don’t be in a hurry to become a star. Stardom will come in its own sweet time.What kind of music do you like listening to?I love listening to classical instrumental music. Sarod, sitar and santoor are pleasing on the ears. Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma is my favourite.