By Noor Anand Chawla
When talent combines with interest, good results follow. This happened in the case of Sanya Khurana, who felt inspired on the occasion of Lord Krishna’s birth celebration –Janmashtami and released her first ever single as a new-age dedication to him.“As a teenager, I loved singing Krishan Bhajans. I was bullied in school and felt lonely most of the time, hence found solace in Krishna. I often expressed my love for Him through music,and my schoolmates would make fun of me by calling me Meera, but my unshakeable faith in god comforted me,” explains Khurana when asked about the subject she chose for this song.
As a student at the Shankar Mahadevan Academy, she learnt the ‘Kanha Re’ song in Raag Kedar Bandish earlier this year, and fell in love with the tune immediately. “The raag is joyful, sweet and beautifully captures the essence of my love for Krishna. I wanted to create a fusion of the Raag with the peppy music that is popular today,” she explains. Delhi-based Khurana dons many hats. She pursued her undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Delhi, and a Masters in Computer Applications from Indira Gandhi Technical University for Women. She co-founded the Lean In India Network with Rashmeet Kaur in 2015. This initiative led to her winning numerous accolades. Additionally, she has worked as a Software Developer with Adobe Inc., delivered TEDx Talks, and published a book called ‘One Action: Towards Women’s Dreams and Ambitions’.
It was her sister, Khushi Khurana, who pushed her to follow her dream of recording her own single and music video. Despite her initial hesitation to sing and be part of a professional production, she followed through on the strength of her love for the song ‘Kanha Re’. She explains, “When I started the project, it was meant to be a one-time thing. I wanted to express my love for Krishna on the occasion of Janamashtmi and that was it. But I truly enjoyed the process of recording the song and working on the music video and I would love to do more projects of this kind in the future.”
Khurana composed the sargam, and Music Producer Kshitij Bhargava added western musical tones to the Hindustani classical raag to create a fusion sound. The concept of the video was scripted by the team at videoproductions.in Amar Kate, Khushi Khurana and Akshit Gupta – who got every detail of Khurana’s vision down pat. They asked her questions about her faith,her idea of Krishna, and her love for him, before they could finalise the look and feel. The idea was to highlight practices that are traditionally followed to express one’s love for Krishna. This included clips of women making dresses, stringing garlands and churning butter – things that devotees would recognise immediately. The other actors in the video were chosen on the basis of their devotion to these crafts as well.
The video was shot in Pune, and even the costumes have an interesting story behind them. Krishna’s costume signifies how he might dress up if he belonged to this era. Just like the music, the look of Krishan’s outfit also points toward the amalgamation of pure devotion and modern-day expression. Khurana’s costume was designed by her aunt and fashion designer Sheena Malik and was created to evoke a dreamy and free-flowing feel.
Khurana says with glee, “The actual performance was cathartic. I could express my feelings and it was really fun too. It was thrilling to be in front of the mic in an actual studio and then in front of a camera on an actual set. Especially the latter, I would’ve never imagined myself doing that but I thoroughly enjoyed it.” When asked about her future plans, Khurana reports that her projects are mostly spontaneous. She is currently working on writing a novel, and is planning to move away from her comfort zone of singing devotional songs to sing something completely different. “I’d like to do a Punjabi song!” she says.
Summing up her experience, Khurana ends with, “I believe people appreciate whatever art connects with them the most. My music was loved by all devotees of Krishna around me, not because they are music lovers but because they could relate with the song. I am sure these people would equally appreciate other forms of art, like painting and dancing, if they can relate to it for one reason or another.”
Kanha Re by Sanya Khurana is available for streaming on all platforms.