If you are asked to close your eyes and hazard a guess about the singer just by listening to her song, you may say ‘Lata Mangeshkar.’ Mamta Padhi has enthralled audiences with her renditions of Lata Mangeshkar songs. The Bhubaneswar-based singer has performed in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Chennai and Jaisalmer. She has sung Lata Mangeshkar songs for an audio CD Ek Koshis and ghazals in the album Mehfil. Besides, she has acted in Odia TV serials Swabhiman, To Aganara Tulasi Mu and Pari.
Daughter of Suprava Kar and Sisir Kar Mahapatra of Baripada, Mamta graduated from City Women’s College, Cuttack. She completed ‘Sangeet Visharad’ in Hindustani classical music from Chandigarh University. She also learnt music under the tutelage of the late Krishna Mehta and Prakash Mohapatra of Cuttack and Bijayananda Nayak and Ashamukund Barik of Bhubaneswar.
“I have been a fan of Lataji since childhood,” says Mamta. “My family members are music lovers and I used to listen to songs on the radio. My brother is an approved artist of All India Radio. Following in his footsteps, I started learning classical music after my HSC. My Guru Maa, the late Krishna Mehta, used to take me to functions as well as for radio programmes and TV shows where I used to sing in chorus groups.”
“After singing a few light songs, I felt the need to learn classical music. In those days, however, there was limited scope. My choice was therefore limited to bhajans or soothing light songs and I performed in a few shows,” she adds.
Mamta is married to Professor Upendra Padhi, director of IMS, Bhubaneswar, and they have a son, Sourav Suman. “About 12 years after I got married, I began to explore the world of music again, in 2006. I started learning classical vocal, this time at the Gandharv University in Delhi, and performed in concerts across the country. Most of these concerts were ‘Lata Nights’ where I rendered Lataji’s songs,” she adds. The singer recently performed at the Jaisalmer Mukesh nite organised by Trimurti Kala Sansad and the Lata Mangeshkar Nite in Jamshedpur organised on Lataji’s birthday September 28.
Mamta is a recipient of many awards including the Kalinga Gourav Award 2017, International Cultural Heritage Award 2017, Trance International Festival Award 2017, Sur Tarang Samman 2015, Golden Voice Award from Rotary Heritage, Chhattisgarh 2014, the Samman from Sangeet Sudha 2014 and many commendation certificates.
“I love to sing songs which are soothing. Also, I sing tracks whose lyrics are somber. I am especially interested in songs which narrate the pain or pleasure of women,” she says.
Mamta released her solo audio album Ek Koshis wherein she has rendered 16 songs originally sung by Lata Mangeshkar. She has lent her voice to the eight tracks in a ghazal album titled Mehfil. Mamta has a YouTube channel where she posts her stage renditions.
An ardent fan of black and white Odia films, Mamta says her favourite movie is the 1968 Parbati Ghose starrer Stree. She says, “I love the films of Parbati Ghose and the songs of Nirmala Mishra and Trupti Das. I like women-centric films which have a strong storyline. I love old Odia songs such as Tumehi Swarga Mora, Jochhana Lochana, Nidabhara Rati and Abhimanini Mu, but I also have some favourites from the nineties. I like good compositions whether they are pop or folk.”
Among Mamta Padhi’s favourite composers are Goodly Rath, Biswaswaroop Mahapatra, Premanand and Bibhuti Bhusan Mishra. She says, “These people do innovative things and I like them.”
Mamta’s favourite devotionals include Kahin Kete Duraru Asichi Dhain and Kalia Re Mana Boli sung by Anuradha Paudwal, Nilasindhu Tire and Payoji Mene Ram Ratan Dhan Payo by Lata Mangeshkar.
Between 2012 and 2014, Mamta Padhi acted in a few TV serials including Swabhiman, Pari and To Aganara Tulasi Mu. She says, “In To Aganare… I played Nirmala opposite Biren Mishra, a major role.”
For two hours every morning, Mamta Padhi does riyaz. Asked whether a singer can aspire for a good career in Odisha, she says, “Yes, but you need to showcase something extraordinary to get ahead of other singers. This you can achieve by sticking to your own style. If you keep changing your original style to keep pace with time and need, it may ruin your career.”
Himanshu Guru, OP