8 March 2014
6 March 2014
EMPOWERMENT THROUGH MUSIC
World’s First Internet Girl Band’s creator Sagarika Deb has music running in her blood. Still it took a great deal of efforts for her to make a mark in the music industry. At last with the help of internet and social media just within three years she is able to achieve what very few girls are able to do. Her video ‘Shine A Light’ will be showcased in ‘European Independent Film Festival’ and ‘Los Angeles Music Video Festival’.
UNIVERSAL APPEAL THROUGH MUSIC
Sagarika says ‘music is a universal language through which peace and love can be spread in the world’. She continues, ‘Shine a Light’ album is close to not only her but to women all around the globe because it tells the story of their struggle through music. This album was created in the memory of the Nirbhaya case of Delhi, for the campaign Bigul. The lyrics are written by Mellina Barnett and composed by Billy Plyale both from Britain. They strongly feel that their small effort will sensitize the issue of women empowerment in the society.
RECOGNIZED THE POWER OF INTERNET
She said starting an internet project wasn’t easy. People at first taunted her as mad but she still didn’t lose hope. Uploaded her song on the internet. At present she is working on her solo music album with French music firm HorizonVU Music. Her Paris based manager is helping her along with songwritters from Europe and USA. She believes that a lot can be learned from the internet.
25 February 2014
By Casandra Prerost
Jyoti means “light “or “flame” in Hindi and in the Sanskrit, “celestial brilliance”. It is also the first name of a 23 year old young women, Jyoti Pandey Singh, known in India as Nirbhaya, who was pack raped and reportedly eviscerated by one of her six attackers on a cold night in Delhi, 16 December 2012. She had gone with a friend to an early Sunday evening movie session and they were simply trying to go home. She succumbed to her injuries some 13 days later.
Just before the first anniversary of her death, I found myself in Delhi with fellow filmmaker Bruno Acard making a music video in English and Hindi of a song inspired by these tragic events entitled Shine a Light and Navjyoti ki Oar.
Jyoti as a Catalyst
What happened to this girl was horrible and is unbearable to read and to hear. India was seized by a wave of revulsion, as was the rest of the world. I was in Delhi shortly after these events and read, heard and saw detail, too much detail and found it incomprehensible. I was struck by the sadness, the anger and the incredulity of people, this in a place where papers print on a seemingly daily basis reports of rape and violence toward women and children.
For many people, Jyoti’s attack was a catalyst, a line in the sand in its sheer barbarity and awfulness. Huge demonstrations ensued, public statements for change were made and blame was apportioned -to western influences and, incredibly, at times to Jyoti herself. The perpetrators were tried and sentenced to death, one suicided or was killed in jail and the minor, reportedly the most brutal attacker, got a sentence of three years. Since then, the dreadful litany of rapes and brutality in India has continued unabated. Womens’ insecurity was an election issue in Delhi’s December 2013 elections.
What happened to Jyoti stuck in my mind and attached itself to my heart. In a Paris café on a quiet summer afternoon in August 2013 , I listened to a demo of a song inspired by this tragedy. ‘Shine a Light’ was written by British team of lyricist Mel Barnett with music by William Playle and was written for and is sung by a young Delhi singer, Sagarika Deb. The poignancy of the lyrics and the sweetness of the voice of the singer appealed and seemed right. The version in Hindi, Navjyoti ki Oar, had become an anthem for the Indian NGO for womens’ empowerment and education, ‘Navjyoti’, created 25 years ago by Kirin Bedi.
I thought a video had to be made and listened to in India and indeed the world. I talked to Bruno Acard, a French filmmaker with whom I have collaborated before, and proposed a no frills/ no pay production in Delhi of two versions of the song, in the original English and in Hindi – for Jyoti. We had a two week window in early December 2013 and he took the challeng.
Crowdfunding was intended but the French banking system was against us. The administrative organizer in Delhi let us down and disappeared at the last minute. Ingenuity, our own pockets and those of friends and friends of friends plus an unexpectedly fast approval of the Delhi Police did the rest. “The making of” Shine a Light / Navjyoti ki Oar is a story in itself for another time.
How do you make a music video in the era of ‘twerking’ and sensationalism that has as its inspiration a brutal rape and murder? How do you make it without sensationalism? How do you do it with respect for the humanity of the victim? How do you transmit the intent and the message of the lyrics? Why did we make it?
The last question was the easiest. We made this video because we felt we had to. It seemed evident to us. We wanted to do homage to Jyoti, to the lost life and the truncated promise of her youth. In giving her name to Reuters in early 2013, her father said he wanted her remembered and that there be some sense to the senselessness of what happened to her. Music and moving image are immensely powerful and emotional communicators and we wanted to lend our skills to carry a positive message and a story via music and video. We saw Shine a Light as a story, a visual dialogue between a Boy and his memory of a Girl. The relationship is undefined and the style deliberately low key and personal.
Why Jyoti matters to us
In the book (the only book?) about Jyoti called Courting Injustice: The Nirbhaya Case and its Aftermath, Rajesh Talwar raises very pressing issues for reform of the legal system but also provides some compelling insights into what made this particular incident so disturbing. As he writes, she was every young Indian woman from a poor background seeking to improve her situation and that of her family via education. Secondly, she put up a ferocious struggle against overwhelming odds.
To that I would add it was life interrupted, a light snuffed out randomly, brutally and pointlessly. The Times of India and the Hindustan Times carried a series of articles in the aftermath, extracts of her diary and her last notes to her mother in hospital. She is every young woman -our daughter, our sister and our friend – everywhere. She is not a statistic, not “person x “, not an abstract symbol. She was real, she is our loss and it is personal..
In the process of getting permission to film from the Delhi Police (which they subsequently and rapidly gave), I was asked the curious question “What would be the single most important thing you would do for women’s empowerment in India.” My answer has changed. After shooting this video in Delhi, it is what I have always taken for granted, the freedom of movement and, as a right, to simply “be” as a woman in a public place without outright danger.
I can’t stop seeing their faces Jyoti to wrote her mother. I keep seeing her face and as personified by Sagarika Deb in the music video, she looks back. At us all.
Follow Casandra Prerost-Singh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/casandraprerost
22 February 2014
A brief introduction about yourself and what you do: I am Sagarika Deb. An oridinary girl from New Delhi with extraordinary dreams. I always had a great interest in the internet, social media and in using these, wanted to share not only my music but also important social issues like Women’s Empowerment and Animal Rights, another cause which is extremely close to me. The music in me and my love for the internet/social media helped me to create the World’s First Internet Girl Band, after that numerous media coverages and awards followed.
Some of the most memorable being honoured as the “Top 10 Shining Faces/Young Achiever of the Year 2012” for Delhi/NCR by ‘Delhi Desire’, Dainik Jagran Group Magazine, being inducted in the prestigious Limca Book of Records for their music special edition and to be featured in the ‘BBC World News series ‘Digital Indians’.
Now I have started my solo journey under the guidance of French Music Firm, HorizonVU Music as an International Pop Artist. I released my first Single “Shine A Light”and the music video as a homage to Nirbhaya/Jyoti. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U3N-7gbvNQ&feature=youtu.be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuCgoil8Lqo
Who or what inspired you to become a Singer?
A singer that has inspired me the most is my mother. I happen to come from a very musical family and my mother and sister are both brilliant singers. Ever since I first opened my eyes as a baby I heard my mother singing to me and later too I was so proud to see her performing on stage. I always wanted to be like her, she really inspired me. I have always got my inspiration from my mother and she always encourages me to aim high.
Before my mother got married she lived in Kolkata, and living there was a very famous music teacher. He was truly gifted and very special, even more so because he was born blind. He once said to my mother, “If there is anyone to take the place of ‘Lata Mangeshkar’, it would be you”. So of course I cannot be asking for any other inspiration than in my own family, my Mother.
How long have you been singing?
Coming from a musical family, singing has always played a BIG part in my life. My first steps on stage were at the tender age of two and half when I dressed up as a beautiful Bengali Indian Bride and my sister acted as my groom. A musical act followed and I can remember being so excited to be part of it all. Even then I was a child with big dreams, and I knew there was nothing else I wanted more than to be performing on stage in front of an audience.
Through the years I have won numerous certificates and awards for singing, dancing and acting. I have always been very passionate about mixing the styles and sounds of Western music with Indian music, a ‘fusion’. Luckily my musical abilities enabled me to build up friendships and contacts with some truly talented songwriters from different parts of the world. My confidence as a performer and singer has grown and I am more aware than ever of the singing career I wish to pursue. I have not looked back.
Are there any famous singers that have influenced you down the path of your career?
If I have to choose from any of the famous singers I will definitely be Enrique Iglesias. I just love his voice and the way his vocal timbre goes.
What did your family do to encourage you?
My mother and sister are both brilliant singers. My parents have always told me to chase my dreams and most importantly, that there is no difference between a boy and a girl and that we are all equal. I am exceptionally close to them. There were times when I lost hope and was disheartened with the failures but my parents have always asked me not to lose hope and believe in my talent, believe in the power of the universe and spread a positive message.
They totally understand my life, career and the pressure of being in the entertainment business. They are totally my comfort pillow on whom I can rely upon anytime without worrying about anything.
The last three years of my life has been like a practical tutorial. I have learned how to work as a team – Now it is all about ‘WE’ not me. Everything I have been able to achieve today is down to a big team effort. The support that I have had from my management, songwriting team and family has been overwhelming.
I have learnt that a successful artist wants and needs a team that can be relied on. After all, it is about trust, sensitivity and support for everyone involved. So now my team is like my second family.
What plans do the future hold for you?
I am extremely excited about the future, as my management and I are in the planning stages of my first Solo Album. The Album will consist of songs written specifically for me by songwriters from Europe and America. New album, brand new songs, and music videos and hopefully a musical concert tour will be in the pipeline.
Also my latest music video, ‘Shine A Light’ will be featured at this year’s Prestigious ‘European Independent Film Festival’, also in the ‘Los Angeles Music Video Festival’ and many other film festivals across the globe. We hope to take our message of Women’s Empowerment everywhere around the world.
What characteristic according to you is unique to Delhi (What makes Delhi, ‘So Delhi’!)
It should definitely have to be the History of Delhi, the special monuments spread at different parts of it. My entire team is based out of India (America & Europe) and they are extremely moved with the historical monuments in the city. The director of my music video Casandra Prerost has read the very famous travelogue by William Dalrymple ‘City of Djinns’ about the historical capital of India many times, and the monuments are one of the reasons she visits the capital. Several times during the shoot I felt she might know more about the city than me
Other than the unique monuments the different street food joints all around the city are also what make Delhi, ‘So Delhi’. I travel for work and needless to say I miss it a lot whenever I am out of town.
One misconception about Delhi?
One popular misconception about Delhi is people (especially outsiders) think “everything would be too difficult”. Everything will be very slow here and how sometimes the simplest task would be impossible. Sure it’s not completely like the developed states/countries however it is also not as difficult as people think it to be.
They also think eating all the street food here would most likely get them sick. Interestingly enough, it’s not the case otherwise we all would have been bed ridden everytime with stomach problems.
A Hidden gem of the city everyone must know about?
The Delhi Green Ridge and the bird life found in it! The Delhi ridge protects us from the hot winds of the deserts of Rajasthan to the west, and is also responsible for earning Delhi the tag of the world’s second most bird rich capital. Since I am very close to nature it attracts me a lot and of course everyone should know about them and try to protect their natural environment with whatever means possible.
Also I do feel Delhi has the potential to become a world class city. It has all the resources, talent, is the political centre and the capital of our country. We find all religion/communities, people, fool, culture, festivals here in Delhi, so in short you can see the entire India in this region. So for me it represents a ‘Chhota India’!
Top 5 places to eat out in Delhi?
When I am out with family, I most of the times choose restaurants that are affordable and friendly. So some of the top options are:
When I am out with my friends however we love to gorge on the street food, some small but very popular joins are:
BTW (Bittoo Tikki Wala) or Pizza Hut/Dominos
For official high profile meetings with my music collaboration friends, my favourites are:
Bukhara, Maurya Sheraton
Travertino, The Oberoi
What advice would you give to someone wishing to get into the Singing Industry?
The biggest message I would like to give to aspiring singers is that there is no shortcut in life especially in the entertainment business. It can be very hard on your voice, riyaaz (vocal exercise) is important and should be done regularly as without your voice you have nothing. Although luck can sometimes come into play, true talent is recognised so never give in; share your voice where you can, the internet is super for this. Be prepared to take criticism, take advice and work hard. Always dream big, there is nothing wrong with that.
Before anyone believes in your efforts you have to believe in yourself. Believe in your own strength, believe in the power of the universe and always spread a positive message. I always try to be the person I am, I won’t let anyone change me just to conform. Be kind but don’t let people take advantage of you. Everyone should have a dream, something wonderful to aim for.
16 February 2014
By Deepti Razdan
Sagarika Deb has been performing on stage since she was two and a half years of age. Since then, she has come a long way, having carved a niche for herself in the world of music, through widespread recognition of her work. As mentioned on her official website, Sagarika formed the “World’s First Internet Girl Band”, Wild Blossoms. She has numerous achievements to her credit as an independent performer as well, including selection in the ‘Top 10 Shining Faces/Young Achiever of the Year, Delhi/NCR’ 2012. Her first music video, “Shine a Light/Navjyoti Ki Oar”, was filmed by Casandra Prerost and Bruno Acard in Delhi in December, 2013. It is scheduled for a worldwide release in the first half of 2014. The song, originally written and performed for the Navjyoti India Foundation, is in memory of the notorious 2012 Delhi gang rape, that brought women’s issues and, more importantly the question of women’s safety in Delhi, to the fore, and took the shape of a revolution demanding justice for the victim.
Deepti Razdan: What are your thoughts before the ‘big release’ of your first music video? The trailer looks very promising.
Sagarika Deb: This is a very special song, not only for me and the women and young girls of India, but also for women all over the world. It is written with the hope of creating awareness about the plight of women silently suffering and struggling with hardships, across the globe. Through the power of music, the emotions and meaning of words become clearer. I guess that is why people call music the universal language of love and peace.
We hope we will be able to change the perception of people and the way they view young girls, with this small effort. I hope they listen to the lyrics carefully, feel the music and understand our message when they watch the video. If we can change even one opinion and one mind, if we can touch someone’s heart and bring awareness; that is all that matters.
The video will be featured in this year’s prestigious ‘European Independent Film Festival’, and the ‘Los Angeles Music Video Festival’. We hope to spread our message of Women’s Empowerment across the world.
DR: Tell us something about “Shine a Light”.
SD: A year ago, a very brutal rape and murder took place in Delhi. It was so distressing that it created headlines all over the world. Here in India, it caused shock, revulsion, anger, and the loss hit us all very hard. She was everyone’s sister, daughter and friend. The young girl’s name was Jyoti, and she was a beautiful, bright, young student at the University. Jyoti was trying to get home on a cold night after watching a movie with her friend, something that young girls all over the world do. It is a part of growing up, it is a time of fun, which sadly ended horrifically for her, and ultimately led to her death.
I realised then, that things finally have to change for women in India. Laws have to change, but more so, there has to be a change in attitudes, hearts and minds. Women have to be loved and protected. We have so much to offer not only to each other, but to the world as well. With “Shine a Light”, I wanted to reach out to the world.
My contribution as an artist was to sing this song, which is called “Shine a Light” in English and “Navjyoti Ki Oar” in Hindi. It is an expression of hope and change. It is about kindness and peace, not rage and anger. The lyrics spoke to me, and through the music and the video, I hope they will speak to everyone.
The words were written with great sensitivity by lyricist Mellina Barnett and the music was composed by Billy Playle, both from the UK. I have recorded the song in English and Hindi. The Hindi version was composed for Dr. Kiran Bedi’s NGO, Navjyoti India Foundation and used for their campaign for the empowerment of women, ‘Bigul’.
All the people involved in the production of this song are keen to take the message deep into India and share it with the world as well. For a more powerful impact, we decided to make a video of this beautiful song, here in Delhi. I was highly fortunate to have two extremely talented French filmmakers Casandra Prerost and Bruno Acard, sent to India by my management, HorizonVU Music, for shooting the video with me.
DR: You started performing on stage when you were two and a half years old. Tell us about your journey as a performer from then to now.
SD: Coming from a musical family, singing has always played a BIG part in my life. My first steps on stage were at the tender age of two and a half when I dressed up as a beautiful Bengali Indian bride and my sister acted as my groom. A musical act followed, and I remember being really excited to be a part of it all. Even then, I was a child with big dreams, and I knew there was nothing else I wanted more, than performing on stage in front of an audience.
Through the years, I have won numerous Certificates and Awards for singing, dancing and acting. I have always been very passionate about mixing the styles and sounds of Western music with Indian music: a ‘fusion’. Luckily, my musical abilities enabled me to build friendships and contacts with some truly talented songwriters from different parts of the world. My confidence as a performer and singer has grown and I am more aware than ever of the singing career I wish to pursue. I have not looked back.
I am lucky to have achieved great success with my songs. One of my biggest achievements was with my song “Teacher”, written by Mellina Barnett and composed by Sujith Kurian from Kochi. The song was a semi-finalist in the ‘UK Songwriting Contest’, Open Category. More of my songs have had equal success such as air play on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Radio Warwickshire, United Kingdom, NewUSB Radio, and many more. The beautiful pop ballad, “My First Broken Heart”, written by Mellina Barnett and composed by Billy Playle, was Number One on the ‘Indian Online Music Charts’ for six consecutive weeks. As a singer, I was receiving a lot of appreciation and recognition, which encouraged me a great deal. Country song “Wake up Little One” by songwriter Susan Simonson from the USA has received equally good reviews.
I am now thrilled for the future, as my management and I are in the planning stages of my first solo album. The album will consist of songs written specifically for me by songwriters from Europe and America.
Between the album and video shoots, I also attend musical events as a singer/performer/hostess and even as a Guest of Honour and musical Judge. I am waiting to be the Guest of Honour and a jury member in the upcoming annual cultural fest ‘Converge14’ organised by Jaypee Unversity, due to take place shortly. There are so many exciting things coming up and I can’t wait to share them with all my friends and supporters. It makes me feel very proud to be involved in such celebrated conferences and events, and to get such wonderful feedback and appreciation. I feel truly humbled and blessed.
In my three years as a professional musical artist, I have had the honour of attending and participating in some prominent events. I have had many memorable achievements during this time. One of these was to be honoured among the ‘Top 10 Shining Faces/Young Achiever of the Year, Delhi/NCR’ 2012 by ‘Delhi Desire’, Dainik Jagran Group Magazine.
I have also been inducted into the Limca Book of Records in their music special edition, 2012. In late 2012, I was awarded with ‘Assist World Records’ by the Honourable Chief Minister of Pondicherry Mr.Thiru N.Rangasamy and was added into their world-records book as part of their research on outstanding achievers.
Additionally, I was a finalist in the ‘mBillionth South Asia Awards 2013’ and ‘Manthan Awards Asia Pacific 2013’ in the ‘Social Media Excellence and Empowerment’ category. I was awarded the Certificate of Recognition for the same. Another unforgettable moment for me was to be featured in the BBC World News series’ “Digital Indians”.
My journey so far has been like a roller coster ride, full of ups and downs. Looking back on all these years makes me feel like I was destined to be where I am today. I always knew there was nothing else. Singing and performing are an intrinsic part of me. My dreams have kept me focused. I have a passion in me that drives me on, even in the oddest of situations. I still don’t sleep at night before a big event; my dreams won’t let me sleep.
Luckily, I was discovered by my current management team ‘HorizonVU Music’, a French music firm dedicated to the management, promotion and marketing of the best female musicians of the world. It was a happy day when they signed me on. My journey as a Solo artist began with the release of my single “Shine a Light”.
The last three years of my life have been like a practical tutorial. I have learned how to work as a team member. Now, it is all about WE not ME. Everything I have been able to achieve today is a result of team effort. The support I have had from my management, songwriting team, and my family, has been overwhelming.
I have learnt that a successful artist wants and needs a team that can be relied on. At the end of the day, it is all about trust, sensitivity and support for everyone involved.
DR: How was Wild Blossoms conceived? What challenges did you face forming the World’s First Internet Girl Band?
SD: I have always had immense interest in the internet and social media, and in using these channels to share not only my music, but also important social issues like Women’s Empowerment and Animal Rights, another cause which is extremely close to me.
Wild Blossoms was an experiment which will always be very close to my heart, although now my career has moved on and I am concentrating on evolving as a solo artist. My manager is based in Paris and I use the internet several times a day to communicate with him. I am totally independent of Wild Blossoms now, but I will treasure the memories.
Now that I am absorbed in my own music, it is an exhilarating time, especially with the 2013 release of “Shine a Light”, and its soon-to-be-released video in 2014. I will continue to perform live, release songs and support the social issues I believe in. A big step for me in 2014 will be working on my Solo Album.
Starting and working on an internet-based project is never easy. Everyone thought I was out of my mind when I said that I had no money or funding, but I wanted to prove them wrong. There were hardships and challenges, but who doesn’t face hardships when starting something new? The key is to not give in!
One big challenge I have faced is sitting on my computer, communicating with my team. What people don’t know about me is that I am a person who likes to be very active. I can’t sit still and I am always on my toes. Answering e-mails throughout the day was a personal challenge. I cannot even watch a movie that is longer than one-and-a-half hours, without fidgeting. I like being a busy bee.
At the early stages of my singing career, there were a few communication problems. One of the most important problems, to overcome, was the time difference. This made the work process rather difficult. (I am based in New Delhi, India, my music Management Team is based in Paris, France and my songwriting team is spread throughout USA and Europe).
Contact has become much easier even with the time difference we all experience, as we now use SMS or sometimes make telephone calls if we are in a hurry. E-mail, Skype conferences and Facebook still remain the best choices for interaction, (it’s not always possible to call others because it may be late at night in their country). Gradually, we have overcome all of these concerns and are working together brilliantly – it has been a big team effort though.
Another difficulty has been the production of songs. The composers and songwriters often ask me to record a home demo of the song, in case they need to rearrange any of the music or change any lyrics. It is important that I get their approval before the final studio recording. I have sometimes felt that the songs produced earlier could have been much better if the composer was sitting right in front of me, helping and guiding me during the final recording sessions.
Mixing and Mastering of songs was also an obstacle we had to conquer as Indian sound engineers rarely work on the mixing of English songs. To avoid this problem now, I always collect my ‘raw vocals’ from the studio and the mixing is finalised in Europe or America with professional sound engineers or by the composer of that specific song.
DR: What has been your biggest achievement till date?
SD: Although I feel I have been able to achieve quite a lot professionally, by far two of my best achievements are: being selected for the ‘Top 10 Shining Faces/Young Achiever of the Year, Delhi/NCR’ and getting featured in the International Women’s Day Festival, inspiring women of my country to aim and think high.
Personally, I feel that finding the inner strength and confidence in me after a major setback in my early career is my biggest accomplishment till date. I was able to realise my own ability, how to be a better person, a better performer, and have a better understanding of the music business. This has been a journey, and I am only just starting, but I have already learnt so much about Sagarika Deb as a person, a singer and a woman.
What people don’t know about me is that I am a person who likes to be very active. I can’t sit still and I am always on my toes. Answering e-mails throughout the day was a personal challenge. I cannot even watch a movie that is longer than one-and-a-half hours, without fidgeting. I like being a busy bee.
DR: How was the experience working with classical dancers for your music video? Was it your first tryst with classical dance?
SD: The experience of working with classical dancers was brilliant. I am quite fond of classical dance, and I joined Kathak classes several years ago. I never imagined that, one day, I would be dancing with such amazing dancers. It was like a Bollywood experience and a real honour.
The sequence was very moving. We wanted to use dance as a metaphor to celebrate womanhood in India and show it to the rest of the world. I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to dress up and dance with such beautiful classical dancers and I was proud to have them in our shoot. I hope if I ever do a video shoot with these dancers again, it will not be as hot a day as it was during the shoot for “Shine a Light”. Overall, it was an experience of a lifetime and one I will always treasure.
DR: Who has inspired you the most as a singer since you started singing?
SD: A singer that has inspired me the most is my mother. My mother and sister are both brilliant singers. Ever since I opened my eyes as a baby, I heard my mother singing to me, and I felt so proud seeing her perform on stage. I always wanted to be like her. My family has been my strength and I love them more than words can express.
Before my mother got married, she lived in Kolkata. A very famous music teacher lived there too. He was truly gifted and very special. He once said to my mother, “If there is anyone to take the place of Lata Mangeshkar, it would be you.”
In her prime, my mother had plenty of opportunities to pursue her singing career. However, a career in music was extremely difficult for women at the time (even today it is tough but luckily, I have an incredibly dedicated team as my support network). My mother was also highly devoted to her family and I feel she sacrificed her career for us.
My mother constantly encourages me to aim high. My parents have always told me to chase my dreams and most importantly, that there is no difference between a boy and a girl and that we are all equal.
DR: We would love to hear about the charities/issues that are close to your heart.
SD: I am closely associated with Dr. Kiran Bedi’s NGO, Navjyoti India Foundation (NIF), and attend their events, spreading awareness through my music by joining hands with them. I was first approached by NIF to compose the theme song for their Women Empowerment campaign called ‘Bigul’. This was when we started working on “Shine a Light/Navjyoti Ki Oar”.
It’s a pity that even in today’s world, women don’t feel safe in their own countries. We always wanted to bring this to light and help in whatever way we could. It is very important to me, and also to my family, friends and songwriting team. I am a young girl who resides in Delhi, so I am more aware than many, of the difficulties that affect our daily lives. My parents are scared to let me go out alone, and live with a persistent fear of losing me forever. It should not be this way. With the hope of throwing light on the plight of women not only in India but everywhere, we have composed the song and its video.
We will continue our fight along with NIF and hope one day we will be able to bring some change (no matter how big or small).
It is always wonderful to be contacted by NIF. Recently, they invited me to attend their 26th Annual Day Celebration to celebrate the ‘Joy of Giving’ on the 5th of January, 2014 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Delhi. Luckily, Casandra was still in India so we attended the event together. I performed my song “Teacher” [Navjyoti Ki Law]. They have a wonderful crowd and staff. Most of the children are from underprivileged families and the love that I receive from them, whenever I go, is extremely touching.
It was funny too, because little girls made me sign five- and ten-rupee notes saying that they will never use them. I feel truly blessed and I look forward to meeting them all again. It is every young girl’s dream to support and change others’ lives for the better, so to meet Dr. Kiran Bedi again was a highlight. She is a terrific lady, so gentle and full of kindness. I was really pleased that Casandra had the opportunity to meet her too.
Also, my association with Animal Rights has been part of me since I was very little. My family and I are very fond of all animals, especially the strays. There used to be a TV Series by Mrs. Maneka Gandhi called Heads and Tails. As a child, I used to watch it regularly. I was filled with horror and revulsion when I found out how these beautiful voiceless creatures were tortured by humans. That forced me to give up eating meat and to fight for animal rights.
Today, apart from feeding stray dogs, my friend (Abhishek Kachhawaha) and I run a Facebook community and blog called ‘We Feel the Pain for Animals’. We hope to educate people about animal cruelty and try hard to bring positive change in the world. It is another battle, but it is close to my heart and very important to me.
I am also a ‘Colony Care Taker’ for stray animals and hold the ‘Government ID Card’. Article 51-A (g) of the Indian Constitution clearly states, “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” I don’t understand why anyone has to be so cruel and heartless towards them. I hope to be a voice for them. I, and people like me, proudly call ourselves “Voices for the Voiceless”.
My day is incomplete without playing with or feeding my stray dogs, and with my own success in music, I wish to form an NGO dedicated to the well-being of animals. A big part of my charity will also be dedicated to people living on the streets. It would be wonderful to have the ability to give jobs to the jobless or homeless people so that they can take care of themselves and their families. It would give these people the opportunity to earn their own money, and live respectfully and compassionately. As you can see, I have many dreams and hope one day to have the ability to bring about change.
DR: What message would you like to give to aspiring singers?
SD: The biggest message I would like to give to aspiring singers is that there is no shortcut in life, especially in the entertainment business. It can be very hard on your voice, so riyaaz (vocal exercise) is important and should be done regularly, as without your voice, you have nothing. Although luck can sometimes come into play, true talent is always recognised so, never give in. Share your voice where you can. The internet is great for this. Be prepared to take criticism, take advice and work hard. Always dream big, there is nothing wrong with that.
Before anyone believes in your efforts you have to believe in yourself. Believe in your own strength, believe in the power of the Universe and always spread a positive message. I always try to be the person I am. I won’t let anyone change me or make me conform. Be kind, but don’t let people take advantage of you. Everyone should have a dream, something wonderful to aim for.
DR: Any unfulfilled dream as an artist that you see coming true in the near future?
SD: As an artist, I always dreamt of touring and performing at venues in different parts of the world with great songs to sing and my very own management that has faith in me. I now have a brilliant songwriting team and an extremely committed management. I am enthusiastic about my solo album right now. Hopefully, after we have finished working on the album, I will have some superb songs to perform, and the concert tours will become a reality. I see all of this happening in the near future.
I am lucky to have a family and a team who believe in these causes too, and support me completely. With each passing day, and with my own success in music, I feel I am slowly moving towards this dream as well.
The future is exciting.
Deepti Razdan is a Ph.D Scholar at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia. She has been into Creative Writing ever since she learned how to write, and has been in love with words ever since. She loves writing research papers and short stories, and can be found reading or dreaming in her free time. Location: Toronto, Canada
14 February 2014
Yesterday was one of the best nights for me. I was in attendence at a “Page 3″ Party, with major socialites of Delhi! There were a lot of media and photographers present. The calendar of Ashish Sahu was launched by one of the biggest beauticians of India, Shehnaz Husain and Sandeep Marwah.
I gave interviews to magazines regarding the calendar launch. I certainly met many nice people and have made more great contacts. Ashish Sahu said he wants to do a shoot with me, for which I have agreed!!! One blog has written”Ace photographer Ashish Sahu is all set to launch the latest fashion calendar for his brand OUTFITS for the year 2014. The calendar is being launched at Zebaa in Greater Kailash II at an event being attended by all the major figures of the fashion world and glitterati.”
Everyone said they would like to invite me for their other events as well. They all want to attend my music shows, so now I am working hard to produce my stage show. It’s quite unbelievable and encouraging that in just few months people are getting to know me and they have started calling me to attend their prestigious events. I have given a really long interview to Dainik Jagaran Newspaper today morning for their ‘International Women’s Day’ celebration. It will be out on March 5th.
All of this is thanks to all of you who follow me and encourage me to continue with my work.
Many thanks and warm wishes,
February 07, 2014
By Vikram Dutta
Coming from a musical family, singing has always played a big part of Sagarika Deb’s life. She first stepped on the stage at the tender age of two and a half years. Passionate about mixing the styles and sounds of Western music with Indian music, a fusion, she started a musical project which introduced her to some of the best talents from different parts of the world, taking her to a completely different level in music. Since then there was no looking back.
Her song ‘Teacher’ became semi-finalist in the ‘UK Songwriting Contest’. She is getting Air Plays in BBC Radio, Radio Warwickshire, UK, NewUSB Radio and many more. A beautiful pop ballad, ‘My First Broken Heart’ was number one on the ‘Indian Online Music Charts’ for six consecutive weeks which got her a lot of appreciation and recognition.
Apart from music, Sagarika’s other interest lie in helping the voiceless. She is extremely attached to animals, especially the ones on the streets. “My principle motto in life is, not to tolerate any sort of cruelty, be it on people or on voiceless animals. I must thank my parents for my heart and for the person who I am today”, says Sagarika.
In an exclusive and extensive conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, Sagarika Shares her heart with us talking about her journey, experiences, achievements, challenges and lots more…
My entire life juggles around music, my family and my stray dogs. I am blessed to have an exceptionally supportive family and team who understand me as a person and supports me in every move of my life. At present me and my team are preparing for my first Solo EP. We are finalizing the songs and hopefully will be able to release it within this year. It will be a Pop Album and the songs are written and composed by songwriters from Europe and America.
Mostly my day ends after I feed my beloved stray dogs. I have spoiled them well enough to damage my outfits even when I am going out for a video shoot or an event. They have the liberty to approach me anytime with their tantrums and I feel more than happy to oblige to their demands.
I started singing professionally after my collaboration with France based music firm, HorizonVU Music. HorizonVU Music is created to promote best emerging female musicians and industry professionals in rock, alternate and folk. I was spotted by them I very strongly believe everything starts with your self confidence.when my lyricist and a very close friend Mellina Barnett saw their post asking for life stories of exceptional female achievers in the field of music. They loved my story and more than that loved my music and together we collaborated to achieve more success in the field of music.
My first musical venture with them was to record my single ‘Shine A Light’ in 2013. The song is really special, not only for me and the women and young girls in India, but for women all over the world. It is written in the hope of bringing light and awareness to those who struggle and suffer with hardship. The lyrics were written with great sensitivity by Mellina Barnett and the music was composed by Billy Playle, both from the UK. I have recorded the song in English and Hindi. The Hindi version was composed for Dr. Kiran Bedi’s NGO, Navjyoti India Foundation, which is used for their Women Empowerment campaign against eve teasing called ‘Bigul’. And I am delighted that we have dedicated the video for “Nirbhaya/Jyoti”.
The song is written in a hope to bring awareness about the brutality which young girls go through in their lives. It’s about hope for a new light for women not only in India but all around the world.
I have been inducted in the prestigious Limca Book of Records in their music special addition 2012. In late 2012 I was awarded with “Assist World Records” by the Honorable Chief Minister of Pondicherry Mr.Thiru N.Rangasamy and was added in their world records book as a part of their research on outstanding achievers.
My hard work was also then noticed by “Delhi Desire” by Dainik Jagran Group and I was honored as the Young Achiever/Top 10 Shining Faces of Delhi/NCR for the Year 2012.
Finalist in the prestigious ‘mBillionth South Asia Awards 2013’ under ‘m-Entertainment’ Category. I had been a speaker for my project at a parallel session on ‘Mobile solution for Entertainment Services’ at the “mBillionth South Asia Awards”. Finalist in the prestigious ‘Manthan Awards Asia Pacific 2013’ under ‘Social Media Excellence and Empowerment’ category. Has been awarded a Certificate of Recognition for the same.
I am very closely associated with Dr.Kiran Bedi’s NGO, Navjyoti India Foundation (NIF) by spreading awareness through music. I was first approached by them to compose the theme song for their Women Empowerment campaign called ‘Bigul’ against eve teasing.
It’s a pity that even in today’s world women don’t feel safe even in their own countries. We always wanted to do something about this, since it may be a cause for others but – especially for me, this cause is life. As a young girl residing in Delhi, my parents are scared to let me go out alone because of the fear of losing me forever. Just with the hope of throwing some light on the plight of women not only in India but everywhere, we have composed the song and the video has been shot in Delhi by two French Film Makers, Casandra Prerost and Bruno Acard. We will continue our fight along with NIF by our side, hoping one day we will be able to bring some change.
It’s a pity that even in today’s world women don’t feel safe even in their own countries. My association with Animal Rights has been by birth. Me and my family are very fond of animals, especially the strays. I was filled with horror and revulsion when I found out the ways the voiceless creatures are tortured by humans. That forced me to give up eating meat and fight for animal rights.
Today apart from feeding the stray dogs, me and my friend, Abhishek Kachhawaha run a facebook community and blog with the name of ‘We Feel The Pain For Animals’ educating people about the cruelties on animals and trying to bring some positive change in the world.
I am also a “Colony Care Taker” for the stray animals and hold the ‘Government ID Card’ for the same. It states very well in Article 51-A(g) of the Indian Constitution that – “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.”
I don’t see why anyone will have to be heartless towards the creatures that do not have their own voices to speak about their plight. I and people like me proudly says, we are “voices for the voiceless”. Perhaps I can give jobs of taking care of the animals to the jobless people and give them an opportunity to earn their own living respectfully and also compassionately.
My journey so far has been like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and down. Starting the venture with an internet based project was not easy at all. At the starting of my career people thought I was out of my mind when I said I had no money but I wanted to make my project a reality. There were hardships and challenges, but who hasn’t faced hardships when starting something new?
The biggest challenge I have faced is sitting on the computer to communicate with my team mates. What people don’t know about me is – I am a person who likes to be active, up on my toes. Sitting on the same spot, answering emails the entire day was like a personal challenge. Because of this I am unable to watch a movie which is longer than one and half hour (laughs…).
Professionally, at the early stages there were communication gaps, cultural differences and one of the most important factors and time differences making the working process difficult. But slowly we are able to overcome all of these issues. Now me and my current team of HorizonVU Music are working brilliantly together. I have learned thoroughly to work as a team and my biggest learning has been it’s always ‘WE’ not me. Whatever I have been able to achieve today is due to a team effort. The support that I got from all of the members and of course from my family was unbelievable. A successful artist only wants a team on whom they can rely on, without the fear of losing anything and luckily I am at that stage now.
The Way Forward
Five years down the lane I see myself as a successful music artist as well as a social worker for the causes. I also see myself setting up an NGO for animals which will not be restricted to animals but for many other as well. I have a very dedicated management and creative team and I see myself growing fully as a music artist under their guidance and influence. I am already working on my solo EP, waiting for my first video release and preparing for my second video shoot. Everyone will be surprised to know that I haven’t met any of my team mates in person yet, and just after knowing me virtually and over the phone they have managed to arrange for the video shoot and had sent film directors, all the way from Paris.
I very strongly believe everything starts with your self confidence, so all of this makes me want to think I have a bright future as musical artist ahead and this is just the beginning of my journey…