Papon (Angaraag Mahanta) is a talented singer, composer, programmer, producer, born in Assam. A very gifted music artist, 40-year-old Papon formed an electronic folk-fusion band called Papon and The East India Company which performed in the SAARC Music Band Festival. He has been a part of MTV Coke Studio 2013, has performed at NH7 and many other Indian festivals, and has also appeared in the sixth episode of The Dewarists with Rabbie Shergill.
In 2012, he won the GIMA Awards for Best Pop Album of the Year for his debut Hindi album The Story So Far. In 2012 he won the JD Annual Rock Awards for Best Male Voice of the Year and Best Song of the Year (for Boitha Maro). He has also dabbled in playback singing for Bollywood and is now a successful singer/composer and has worked for some big banner films.
His film projects have been few and far between — the highlights being the breakthrough Jiye Kyun from Dum Maaro Dum (2011), Kyun from Barfi (2012) and Maula from Madras Café (2013) — but he is now gaining credence as a composer. He has also done work for Bajrangi Bhaijan, Bombay Velvet and Hawaizaada among others. Papon has also composed a dreamy, old-fashioned duet with Shreya Ghosal for Bobby Jasoos.
His initial training has been in Indian classical music and traditional music (religious and folk) from Assam. His experiments include elements of ambient electronica, acoustic folk, ghazals, new-age, and Indian classical music.
In an exclusive chat with VERUS FERREIRA, he reveals his tryst with music, his collaborations and his work in Bollywood.
Your real name is Angaraag Mahanta. How did it come to be Papon?
Papon is my pet name. Yes, my real name is Angaraag Mahanta. But then Papon has stuck since childhood and somehow it has this zing in it, it’s so catchy and with time the name and I got popular. (laughs)
What about Papon and the East India Company?
East India Company is because all of us are from east of Assam. We were figuring out a name for the band and we just found it. It is actually the Kolkata-based company that existed at that time that came to be known as the East India Company, so we thought we might as well use it. It sounded nice as it also meant a place and area we come from. So when we founded the band our idea was to invade the world with music not with guns, and so we used the name East India Company. We have eight members in the band. (smiles)
Why have we not heard about you all this time?
This could be more because the language is not well-known here in Mumbai and the local distribution and market was more in Assam. It was only a few years ago that Times Music wanted to release my Hindi album. In fact, I have also convinced them to release my Assamese music albums here too. So let’s wait and see how things work out.