Actress Rupa Ganguly surprised with best singer award

Kolkata: Bengali actress Rupa Ganguly, known to rest of the world as `Draupadi` of the hit television series `Mahabharat`, today surprised everybody including herself by bagging the National Film Award in the best playback singer category.

"I am happy but I am more surprised. When I heard the news the first thing which came to my mind was that Shreya Ghoshal should have won it. I love her music," the 45-year-old actress-turned-singer told reporters here.

It was on the insistence of director Aditi Roy that she agreed to lend her husky voice for two Tagore songs in last year`s Bengali film `Abosheshey` (At the End of It All) for which she won the award.

"She was hell-bent that I sing. They said since the songs are without any instrumental music only I can sing well in such a situation. I think it worked out well because the songs are an integral part of that character," said Ganguly.

She is a well-known face on Indian television thanks to her roles in serials like `Karam Apnaa Apnaa`, `Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo` and the epic `Mahabharat`.

Besides she has also made her mark as an actress in films like the Goutam Ghosh directed `Padma Nadir Majhi`, Aparna Sen`s `Yugant` and Rituparno Ghosh`s `Antarmahal`.

But those close to her knew her vocal abilities too. "My friends and teachers have always told me that I sing really well. But then there are not many actors in India who can sing well," Ganguly said adding that she was always serious about singing but never took it as a profession.

Always fond of music, Rabindrasangeet in particular, she started taking formal training in music at the age of 17.

She had even launched a Rabindrasangeet album `Bhavna` in the year 2004. It was a runaway hit in the market.

"After that I could never pursue singing because acting has a serious clash with musical profession. The work environment and the hectic schedule don`t allow you to take care of your voice or the time to practice," Ganguly said.

She recalls a 20-year-old incident when legendary Bengali musician Hemanta Mukherjee had appreciated her voice.

"He said if I would have taken music as a career, I would have done very very well," she said.

When asked whether after winning the National Award she would take up music more seriously, she said she would still not take up singing professionally.

"I sing only because I love to sing. And I think that is what makes it special," she said.