Bhubaneswar/Berhampur: Four decades of singing hasn’t made his voice sound any older than that of a 24 year old. Rather, age has mellowed him as much as his vocal chords to come up with that soft crunchiness that easily modulates between extremes – be it high pitched numbers or those that are soft. And this introduction would not be complete without the mention that despite his originality, he sounds typically Yesudas most of the times and perfect Suresh Wadekar at others, with absolute ease. Ganesh Patnaik. The man who has been on a musical sojourn ever since he was a kid, continues in top gear now when he has stepped into the 53rd chapter of life.
Not many would bother to give him a recognition that he deserves as a musician, but he remains unfazed and unaffected. Marathon performances in various shows, shuffling between Ganjam and Bhubaneswar to tutor music learners keep him busy, happy and content.
"Music has been a blessing passed on to me from my forefathers. I fell in love with music pretty early in life and it has been growing each passing day. I have pursued singing as sadhana and also trying to pass it on to the future generations in whichever way I can. Publicity has never been in my mind which is why maybe I keep away from arclights,’’ says Patnaik with a smile that seems to be hiding myriad emotions.
A career that he continues with heart and soul has made him a name to reckon with in the music fraternity. Untrained for a long part, Patnaik took up learning the nuances of classical music pretty late and that, by his own admission, got him more addicted to music besides fine tuning him as a singer. Nothing to be surprised as he breaks into ‘Jab deep jale aana jab sham dhaale aana’ and that’s actually music to ears sans any accompaniment other than a scale in the harmonium. He is a delight to watch for on stage churning songs one after another in voices ranging from Udit Narayan to Akshaya Mohanty.
Mostly lost in his own world, Patnaik, on being asked about his versatility and mellifluity even after years of singing, responds candidly but with a smile, ‘’maybe because I have had a lot of honey during my childhood days which has kept my voice sound soothing.’’ His rendition of romantic songs on stage creates an instant connect with audience and without qualms, he attributes it to his best half – his wife, Ajita Mohapatra, who inspires him the most.
"I actually have been able to render romantic songs with all my heart because of my wife and am indebted to her for being with me even after so many ups and downs,’’ says Patnaik.
Though both his sons are well established and also passionate about music, its his younger one who has followed in his father’s footsteps. ‘’My younger son has shown a lot of promise and holds immense potential. He performs with me on stage shows. Some of my students are doing good in music industry and many have participated in reality shows. I feel proud to have mentored a lot of students,’’ says Patnaik with a gleam of hope. Though he expresses concern over the craze among people to make their children learn music overnight for quick rewards like reality shows, he has not lost hope. ‘’I see flickers of talent in many.”
Not a rewarding profession financially to pursue, music has been the sole mantra of the maestro’s life. “I have not seen riches neither did I ever imagine that music will be my profession but am happy the way I have lived life and given my family a decent living.’’
Prod him on any regrets in life and pat comes the reply, “Yes I could not do playback but am still hopeful.” Patnaik was one of those rare gems of the industry who was traced by none other than the legendary Akshaya Mohanty and asked to audition for AIR. However Patnaik had not taken that offer seriously. “ That I feel has been my biggest mistake. Had I accepted Mohanty Sir’s words, maybe my music path would have been very different today,” says the singer with remorse, but he immediately composes himself to welcome tiny tots at his Bhubaneswar residence who assemble to learn from him.