A multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and singer has become one of the most recognizable-and-sought-after voices in India. While rooted in folk, Papon has a wide variety of influences and considered to be an extremely versatile artist.
Papon was born to a set of brilliant musicians of Assam and was introduced to music and its intricacies at a very early age. His mother ARCHANA MAHANTA and father Late KHAGEN MAHANTA were two very popular and respected musicians of the region.
Coming from a musically attuned family, Music has always been in his blood. His inspirations came from the wide array of sound that he has been exposed to – i.e. from the traditional Folk songs of Eastern India to Ghazals to new-age Electronica.
His initial training has been in Indian classical and traditional music (devotional and folk) from Assam. His innovative experiments are rich with ambient electronica, acoustic folk, electro ghazals to classical sounds. Blessed with a voice that’s smooth and soulful at the same time, Papon has managed to carve a niche for himself as a versatile singer and composer. He can easily switch from folk music to ghazals to electronica and it’s no surprise that he’s a name to reckon with in the music scene in India.
Coke Studio India
Papon’s popularity and legend grew after his appearances on all three seasons of Coke Studio India.
Considered the find of Coke Studio India Season 1, Papon left an indelible impression on music fans as a composer in Season 2 and 3.
In Season 2, Papon sang for highly acclaimed British Asian music composer Nitin Sawhney and received rave reviews for his performance.
Season 3 saw Papon emerge as a force to reckon with in the indie sphere when his compositions quickly became popular hits.
Papon is also a producer of Coke Studio@MTV season 4 for 2015.
Papon’s composition ‘Tauba’ with singer Benny Dayal has 5 lacs plus views on YouTube and was one of the most popular songs from Season 3. Having been involved in all three seasons of the show, Papon have grown with Coke Studio @ MTV initiative.
Papon’s long-standing collaboration with pioneering producers Midival Punditz have led to songs he’s co-composed like Har Ek Baat and Naina Laagey finding their way to Bollywood film Soundtrack.
Papon has collaborated with renowned composer-multi instrumentalist Karsh Kale on the track Absence for Karsh’s fifth studio album Cinema.
With Sushmit Sen (of Indian Ocean) he has collaborated on the track The Voyage on his first solo album Depths of The Ocean.
Papon also has collaborated with percussionist Bickram Ghosh and rising Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni, over a project called Troikala rooted in contemporary folk and an initiative of The British Council, India; they’ve performed in India, in the UK (South Bank Center, London) and in Celtic Connections, Glasgow, 2014).
In the last couple of years, Papon has quickly carved a niche for himself in the world of playback singing.
Papon’s first few tracks in Bollywood were Har Ek Baat and Naina Laagey, the ones he had collaborated with Midival Punditz, for film Soundtrack(2011). He has also sung tracks like Jiyein Kyun for the film Dum Maaro Dum (2011) and Zindagi Aisi Waisi for I Am Kalam(2011).His rendition of Kyon in Anurag Basu-directed Barfi! (2012) won him applause and accolades alike. 2013 has seen Papon add more hits to his name like Kaun Mera in Special 26 (2013) and Maula Sun Le Re and Khud Se from the John Abraham-starrer Madras Café (2013). In Laxmi – movie by Nagesh Kukunoor, Papon has sung the song Sun Re Baavli. In the movie Bobby Jassos Papon sang a duet with Shreya Ghosal. The most recent ones are in the movies Happy Ending, Baby, Hawaizaada, Dum Laga Ke Haisa, Humari Adhuri Kahani, Bajrangi Bhaijaan etc.
Papon hasn’t restricted himself to just Hindi playback singing…he sang for a Tamil movie – Hey for Vanakkam Chennai(2013) – and also in Marathi and Bangla movies –a duet with Shreya Ghoshal for a film called Buno Haansh, Jonaki in Lorai etc.
Papon featured on the critically acclaimed original TV series The Dewarists – Season I collaborating with music icon Rabbi Shergill over the track Khule Da Rabb in 2011.
In the Dewarist Season II, Papon was again invited to collaborate with Karsh Kale, Carl Barat from Britain, Scottish musician Ross Ainslie and guitarist Warren Mendonsa from India in December 2012. In 2014, Dewarist 4, Papon has sung the song composed by Shantanu Moitra.
Papon has composed the title track/ theme song for the programme MTV Roadies (Season10, 2013). He was featured in Indian Idol Junior this year to encourage a young singer by singing along…the same young singer won the Indian Idol Junior 2013 title. For Big Boss Bangla final (2013) on ETV Bangla, Papon has produced and performed a song with Kartik Das Baul and Anushree.
In 2014, Papon produced a full episode of MTV Unplugged
Papon released his debut Hindi album The Story So Far in 2012 through Times Music.
Papon has seven Assamese albums to his name – two original albums Jonaaki Raati (2004), Sinaki Osinaaki (2009) and five folk albums – Rong Phool (2008), Gomseng (2010), Phoolseng (2011) which are all Bihu albums and as well as a Holi album Phagunar Gaan (2010). He has released his latest album, Kirili (2014) inspired by the festivities of Bihu.
“The Story So far” album was released by TIMES Music in Jan 2012 and won the GIMA in the Best POP Album category, 2012.
Papon has received two awards at the JD Rock Awards, 2013 -‘Best Male Vocalist’ and ‘Best Song’ for the feisty folk track Boitha Maro Re from his acclaimed debut Hindi album ‘The Story So Far”.
In GIMA 2015, Papon again won the Best POP Album for his episode of CokeStudio Season3 songs
Papon was declared the best male singer award in the ‘Prag Cine awards’ 2012, for the title song Ramdhenu in the Assamese movie Raamdhenu.
In 2015 Prag Cine Awards, Papon is awarded the Global Icon Award.
At the prestigious IIFA, 2014 at Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, Papon also performed as a singer with music director Pritam’s troupe.
Papon and the East India Company (EIC)
In 2007, Papon formed his folk-fusion band “Papon and The East India Company”.
Along with Papon, the band consists of a Bassist, a Guitarist, a Drummer, a World Percussionist and a Keyboardist.
The band has performed live almost at all the music festivals in India, namely the SAARC Bands Festival in New Delhi, the Eastwind Festival, the Kovalam Literary Festival, the October Fest in Bangalore & Hyd, NH7 Weekender in Pune, Bangalore, Kol & Delhi, Sulafest – Nashik, MAD Fest Ooty, Windsong – Goa, STORM fest Coorg & Bangalore, Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival etc…
Papon & The EIC also performed at the du WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL in Dubai. The festival saw performances from Italian singer-song writer/ multi instrumentalist classical soloist Andrea Bocelli, GRAMMY Winner Natalia Cole, Australian Jazz Fusion Guitarist Frank Gambale, famous American rock band Guns & Roses and also Indian bands as Raghu Dixit, Soulmate etc.
In Jan 2014, Papon & the EIC performed 3 live performances at the prestigious Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland.
In July 2014, Papon and the EIC also have toured US and have performed 2 gigs in New Jersey and 1 gig in San Fransisco.
In Oct – Nov 2014, the band toured Europe performing 3 shows in The Netherlands (in Amsterdam, in Rotterdam & in The Hague at the closing of India-Holland festival,’14) and followed by a performance at the prestigious Dom Omladine, Belgrade, Serbia
Some of the other international festivals wherein they Papon had performed in the past are Paleo music fest in Switzerland, Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Oslo World Music Festival, Norway.