Music

Being a part of Birla family gave me privileges but made it on my own in music: Ananya Birla

Ananya Birla

Ananya Birla   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Singer Ananya, who now has 322k subscribers on YouTube, says she writes lyrics about personal experiences

Ananya Birla was faced with a conundrum. Scheduled to perform in Bengaluru on October 19, she got a sudden invitation from the Prime Minister to perform at a get-together the same day.

Sitting in her room at the Leela Palace, before her sold-out concert at Bombay Adda in Koramangala, hair pulled back in a ponytail, and wearing a black sweater, ripped jeans and red boots, the 28-year-old pop/electropop singer says, “When you get an invite from the Prime Minister, you wouldn’t say no. However, I also had my concert in Bengaluru and cancelling was not an option. It means so much to me and the fans. So, I said we have to advance it (to October 18) and hopefully they will understand.”

The fans have, so far, been more than understanding. Having made her debut in 2016, Ananya’s first five singles – ‘Livin the Life’, ‘Meant to Be’, ‘Hold On’, ‘Circles’ and ‘Better’ became platinum hits and she amassed a following that now stands at 322k subscribers on YouTube.

This year, she released her debut EP, Fingerprint, as well as the single, ‘Day Goes By’ featuring Jamaican-American artiste Sean Kingston, four weeks ago, which has garnered 10M views.

Helping hand
  • Ananya has also been a part of social initiatives such as Svatantra Microfin (which she started when she was 17) a microfinance organisation that provides loans to women entrepreneurs. Stating that help is not the right word to use, she says, “They pay us the principle, which is the amount we have given them plus the interest. Just the way one would take a loan from a bank in urban India or anywhere else in the world, that is what these women are doing as well. It is just that their capacity to repay might be slightly lower. So, instead of giving lakhs, we give in thousands and give a lower rate of interest.”

Talking about where she draws inspiration, the singer, who decided she wanted to pursue music professionally while studying Economics and Management at Oxford university (she later dropped out), says, “I write about personal experiences. I called this (EP) Fingerprint because it is my identity; no one has two of the same type of fingerprint. I took about eight months to put everything together. I truly felt that each song represented a key experience that meant something to me or taught me something.”

How does she respond to those who say she gets opportunities because of her surname and family, she is the daughter of Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla Group.

“Of course, I have privileges that others don’t. But, you don’t choose where you are born. If you want to hate me for that, I am sorry. Second, I am (from the) sixth generation of an industrial family and the only one who has gone into the entertainment industry. That in itself was a bit of a struggle, coming from a conservative Marwari family, even though my parents are supportive and open-minded. But, opportunities coming in the music world have been absolutely by myself and my team. And it feels great.”

Along with her mother, Neerja Birla, she also set up Mpower, an organisation that works towards eradicating the stigma associated with mental health issues. Stating that she also suffered from panic attacks and depression, Ananya says, “I am privileged to have people around me who understand mental illnesses and mental health. However, the stigma around it is huge. (Because of this), what happens is that they do not talk about it which makes it worse. And in India, we don’t have enough support. So, at Mpower, we work to break the stigma and provide support in the form of different types of therapies such as pet therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy, access to psychologists and psychiatrists who have specialisation in different fields. We also have different support groups, and workshops for survivors as well as caregivers.”

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 10:45:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/being-a-part-of-birla-family-gave-me-priveleges-but-made-it-on-my-own-in-music-ananya-birla/article29786263.ece

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