The Carlyta Mouhini Experience - A Musical Chat with the Brazilian-Indian-Bengali Singer Songwriter (Interview)

Click on play to listen to Carlyta Mouhini's musical chat on WBRi on-demand audio broadcast service
 & Bengali song previews from her album "Rock-e Joto Chele"

Carlyta MouhiniWashington, DC, July 26, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Listening to Carlyta Mouhini is an exhilarating experience, as Arijit Chakraborty found out during chatting with her in this WBRi exclusive audio interview with the singer, composer and song-writer. Doubtless you will also feel inspired, excited and generally everything will look brighter after listening to her infectious enthusiasm-filled chat and listen to her songs as she fluidly and adeptly switches between Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, English, Portuguese and Spanish, adding music to words and words to music crossing cultures and genres instantly on the fly!

And perhaps after listening to this interview, you will also take away with you a soothing reminder that there are things which we control that we can try to influence the outcome of with hard work, and there are things beyond our grasp that will transpire according to our destiny.

Carlyta was born into the culture-rich Latin American environment where music is ubiquitous, to a Brazilian mother and a Bengali-Punjabi father, and grew up in a family where she was also deeply influenced by her Bengali grand-mother. As she quaintly puts it, she "came out of her mother's womb singing and dancing!"

Carlyta is one of the nominees in the Best Fusion Song category at the Grassroots Grammy Awards 2011 to be held in November 2011 in Washington DC, for her Indian-Latin Fusion song "Baila Kon Baul" with elements of Baul folk-songs of Bengal and Latin Gitana music.

The first and foremost quintessential characteristic of South American culture is the music - music automatically gets ingrained into anyone growing up there. Music teachers at school and insitutions serve to train and polish the instinct for music.

Today Carlyta is a multi-lingual cross-cultural music entertainment wonder. She makes the interesting observation that, at the end of the day, the audiences who speak and listen to her songs in different languages are not really that different, because music, like all human beings with a rhythmic heart-beat, is based on rhythm. Once an audience of any cultural ethnicity catches on to the rhythm, the lyrics and music effect them exactly the same way as they would to people who speak other languages. She has personally watched Brazilians dance to her live Hindi film song performances of Chamma Chamma (originally performed by Alka Yagnik for the film China Gate) and Le Le Maza Le (from the film "Wanted" starring Salman Khan performed by Suzanne, Saumaya Rao, Hrishikesh Kamerkar and Nikita Nigam). Similarly, Carlyta also finds people spontaneously breaking into dance when she sings in English (which is rarely spoken in South America).

Music Video: Rock-e Joto Chele - A Hip-Hop influenced Bengali song by Carlyta Mouhini

Obviously, having grown up in Brazil, Carlyta greatly enjoys singing in Spanish and Portuguese. She loves singing in Hindi - after all Bollywood is Bollywood. But, she expresses special feelings for Bengali - a language she has a deep emotional connection with due to inheriting it from her father and her grandmother who instilled Bangla into her very personality. You will be undoubtedly impressed with her flawless common Bengali !

Carlyta was recently at the IIFA (India International Film Awards) ceremony in Toronto, Canada - her first trip to north America. She was surprised by the number of Bollywood enthusiasts in Toronto, and the depth of interest. She sites as an example that folks in Toronto clearly remember the first heroine who appeared against Shahrukh Khan in his debut Bollywood film - both her real and screen names! Not only SRK, they are pretty familiar with the backgrounds of each and every Bollywood star who was present at the IIFA. She saw significant curiosity about Bollywood in native Canadians, too. Overall, compared to last year's IIFA in Colombo where she also performed in, Carlyta suspects the folks at Toronto clearly keep themselves updated with happenings in Bollywood.

Talking about her popular Bengali song "Rock-e Joto Chele" (Boys in the Block ) - the title song of her debut Bengali album which she has dedicated to her grandma, Carlyta describes how the song captures the unique Bengali spirit of "adda", and distinctive Kolkata experiences like tea in a "khunri" (a clay cup with no handle), the delicious "roll" - and also the interactions and reactions of boys and girls in Kolkata. Carlyta feels that the Kolkata girl is, of course, urban and needs to be proud of herself - which is one of the things she has tried to portray in the music video in which she herself appears. The song also pioneered usage of hip-hop and blues-based influences in Bengali music. And saying this, Carlyta sings a few lines of the song for us in her gorgeous voice! She then illustrates the changes in Bengali songs over the decades - singing all the while examples of Rabindrasangeet, R D Burman / Asha Bhosle etc. to contemporary songs.

Carlyta is currently shooting her second music video from her Bengali album "Rock-e Joto Chele", for the song titled "Dupur belaye". The video is expected to be released for playback on television and media channels in early September.

The Indian Embassy in South Africa had organized a gala reception for diplomats from different countries to celebrate the start of FIFA Soccer World Cup there, an event where Carlyta was requested to perform. This was a particularly significant performance, since Latin America is as soccer-crazy as Bengal, and Brazil is a world-leader in the game. You might remember Shakira had sung the number "Waka Waka" (which loosely translates to "crazy") for the IIFA world-cup, and by the time Carlyta's performance came up, Waka Waka had already become the anthem of all soccer-loving people and nations of the world. Do not miss Carlyta's spontaneous singing of snippets of Waka Waka in various languages, including a little ode to you - the Washington Bangla Radio listener !

When studying in Kolkata, Carlyta had formed a band called "Trishul" which became immensely popular. After moving to Mumbai, Carlyta realized that forcing Latin music to Bollywood straightaway would be difficult - there has to be some degree of assimilation with existing Hindi film music so that a new genre does not stand out too much. While making her way around Bollywood, Carlyta also scouted around for musicians in Mumbai adept at Latin music - who could play "musica" with "pasión", as she puts it - and together with three musicians, founded the first Latin Rock / Jazz Band "Viva 2K" in Mumbai. She also is the lead vocalist of the Kolkata-based band 'Blue Mist".

Carlyta describes (and illustrates by singing) some of the unique instrumentation she has brought in, replacing western instruments with Indian ones and vice-versa, as well as introducing cross-genre influences for unique compositions.

Carlyta gives us a quick primer of the spectacular Brazilian music and dance forms of Samba and Rumba, discussing their origins. In many ways, Samba is a polished form of ancient ceremonial and religious dances in Africa, the same way as the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam originated as religious dance in temples, and Kathak from dances by courtesans.

Tracklist of Rock-e Joto Chele

 1. Bhatiyali soor tumi (Bangla Rock song)
 2. Roke joto chele ( Hip Hop Rap ) – Video Title Track
 3. Lal Ferari ( Pop Folk )
 4. Premer Kotha ( Bihu Rhythm )
 5. Monje amar (Baul - Latin)
 6. Esho Na (Soft Romantic)
 7. Doopoor balay (Jazz –‘Nostalgic Kolkatta’
 8. Bhatiyali soor tumi.( Rock Mix )

For her fan club information, please log on to her official web site and

Interview details:
Guest: Carlyta Mohini Singh, Mumbai, India
Host: Arijit Chakraborty, Toronto, Canada
Recording, Editing, Article: Supratim Sanyal, Washington DC, USA

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