Exclusive Interview

Ready to Break the Glass Ceilings Priyanka M: K-Pop Sensation

Ready to Break the Glass Ceilings  Priyanka M: K-Pop Sensation

Just when the battery of motivation was going to die, she charged it herself with self-belief, faith in her talent, and support of her loved ones. Not once, but many times, she has been pulled down and made to look like someone that she is not, but as the air never ceases to blow, and as the time never stops ticking, she didn't stop believing in breaking the glass ceilings.

Introducing you to a fan of BTS, Davichi and Chester Bennington, who shone at the K-Pop (Korean Pop) Grand Finale in 2016, being the among the 15 country finalists from the globe: Priyanka Mazumdar. Recently, she was at The Sentinel's office to pay tribute to late Kim Jong-hyun, a K-Pop singer, live on Facebook Page. This 20-year-old will actually stir your stimulus, inspire you with her thoughts, and give you goosebumps with her songs. Here is an interaction with this K-Pop sensation.
Tell us about yourself. 
I am Priyanka. I am currently pursuing Bachelors' in Physical Education from LNIPE (Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education), Sonapur, Assam. I am a national level Swimmer, which is why I opted for a course in Physical Education. My swimming talent is the resultant of my parents' fear. They feared that I might drown if I fall into the pond we have in our backyard; and since my sisters are swimmers too, so literally I was "thrown" into the midst of a 50-metre swimming pool when I was barely two and a half year old.
This experiment led to my training in swimming, & turning me into a competitor. I started travelling for school (KVS) nationals when I was in 2nd standard. My family has always been very supportive of a career in sports. 
My greatest strength is my family which consists of a hero who is a strong, supportive, loving, funny, but strict: my God father; most hardworking, active, strong, smart, and loving mother; and two crazy, independent, and funny sisters. I am the youngest one. My Childhood was pretty much like: Swim-Eat-Sleep, at classes-Eat-Swim-Sleep, apart from hanging out with friends and travelling for Swimming Competitions.  
When did you realize that you are inclined towards K-Pop?  
I've always loved music. I would listen to music every day, whenever I had time or needed to relax. I loved folk metal, metal, and pop music the most, from the beginning & I still love it, with Eluveitie being my all time favourite. I listen to music, which none of my family members listen to. I started listening to K-Pop in 2014 because of OSTs of KDramas but from 2015 I became addicted to this genre of music. This addiction started because of Taeyeon's song, titled, 'Missing You Like Crazy' (Taeyeon, Member of Girl group -Girls' Generation) & then Davichi & of course BTS. 
Even though I didn't understand the language back then, but I could feel their Emotions and the way they sang, their voices, & lyrics. "Emotions" & "Lyrics" were the first thing that made me love K-Pop .
Have you had any training in classical music earlier?
I did get trained in classical music (vocals) for around 3 yrs & violin for 2 yrs from 2009-2011. I was less interested in vocals, but more interested to learn violin because of folk metal (was too hyped because of Eluveitie). I stopped the training sessions because I couldn't manage my timings with my swimming practices, school, nationals, etc. 
Tell your readers about the difference between K-Pop and different forms of western music.
K-Pop is Korean pop which means everything is in Korean language. K-Pop  is a bit different from the western music we hear as K-Pop  idols perform by singing and dancing at the same time. It's not that they just groove to the music, but they actually dance in choreography. The idols in the K-Pop  industry are trained under the entertainment labels or companies from a very young age (even like 4-5 yrs of age), until they debut in a group (boy-band/ girl group, or duo). Solo debuts are very less, & comes after they are successful with their group. K-Pop  idols sing, dance, rap, act, compose & write songs, play instruments, produce music, host shows (MCs, Radio shows, VJ etc). Basically, K-Pop idols are trained as a whole package of entertainment for fans. The idols' training may be as long as a decade or just a few weeks depending on their potential. Their hard work is showcased in their stage performances, which are attractive, enjoyable, and unique. K-Pop  idols have their own fandom names, own Lightsticks for fans (for concerts) & idols remain connected to their fans through frequent fan sign events, reality shows, apps & websites, and fan-cafes, sharing the lifestyles, and daily lives of idols.
You were the only Indian to represent the country in the K-POP World Festival 2016. Share your story. 
As I got addicted to K-Pop, I started to sing along the songs I liked. I came across Korean Cultural Centre-India's page & got updates on K-Pop  contests. After I finished my board exams for 12th standard in science stream, I wanted to try out the contest. So I uploaded my video for the online auditions for the K-Pop Contest India-2015, won the regional round in Mizoram, came 4th in the finale in Delhi. I re-tried in 2016 & won the country finale in Chennai. My videos were sent to South Korea (KBS) for the preliminary round of the K-Pop  World Festival 2016 & I qualified. I had to clear one more online round to be among the finalists, which I did. 15 finalists were selected from 15 countries across the globe, India, being the first-timer. I got the opportunity to represent the country. I got awarded with the Excellent Vocal Award, the 3rd position for India. Obviously, this whole journey wasn't easy. I was scared, I wasn't trained professionally (as pop & classical are completely different from K-Pop), plus, I had stage-fright and didn't know the language properly or the culture. Above all, I was travelling alone for the 1st time by a flight and that too to a different country, and, being an introvert in a different country with strangers.
The preparation for the journey was even more difficult as I didn't have anyone to share my feelings or ask for suggestions & guidance about K-Pop. None among my friends or family knew anything about K-Pop. 
I learned K-Pop  singing just by observing and listening to the Korean idols & practicing the songs in a closed room. 
Everything I know about K-Pop is just from the internet. Even the language I learned is from watching K-dramas & movies.
Hailing from a sports institute with a whole day scheduled for sports activities, where we weren't allowed to use cell phones much; where we never get much time to rest, but get tired, injured, and exhausted, it was difficult for me to devote time for music. I didn't get much time to practice as 2015 was my 1st year at the institute. But I didn't give up. When I got selected for the World festival, I, literally, suffered from insomnia for a month due to stress & exhaustion as the daily schedule at LNIPE isn't easy & I had to make my passport, documentary videos, had numerous interviews, paper works, practice, etc. 24 hours were less for me. I suffered from anorexia (loss of appetite) & vomited what I ate. It was hard. I felt helpless as I was in a hostel, but I endured it all. I am glad that I made it all through.
What was the reaction of your family when you announced about the transition - your foray into K-POP?  
I was involved with sports from the beginning of my life. K-Pop came into my life during my board exams (XII std). I never gave up sports, rather I balanced both. When I first applied for the K-Pop  contest, I didn't tell anyone (including my family) because it was a whole new concept for everyone and also I wasn't sure about myself that I could to do it. I only told about it after I qualified & needed to go to Mizoram for the zonals. 
The reaction was as expected & is obvious for every protective parent, they were shocked  and didn't permit me to go to Mizoram. Many times, I got scolded by my parents & even got complaints for listening and shouting to K-Pop, an alien music & noise for others. I was good in my studies & because my grades (CGPA) were good, my parents had promised me before to grant me a wish, which I used here, & ultimately, convinced my parents to allow me for the contest. After I won the northeast round in Mizoram, I convinced my parents to let me participate in the finale too. 
The positive remarks from all other K-Pop lovers, director of KCCI & reporters, and also, because KCCI promised for the reimbursement, I finally got the permission to continue further.
Did you have to compromise with studies for this?  
I did compromise with my studies a lot, I kept surfing online because everything I learnt was from the internet & had a lot of sleepless nights. As I needed to study too for the board exams (XII std, science stream with PCMB). I am not a scholar who would study day and night, I am one of those who did "Last night- full fight", but as my results were satisfactory every time, and my parents never nagged me. 
My friends started preparations a month or two before pre-boards; I started 15 days prior. The rest of the time I spent with K-Pop. After people were asleep, I used to practice K-Pop & studied simultaneously. I secured 78% in the board exams, I am still satisfied with it. My parents were satisfied too.
What other challenges did you face while opting for a career in this?  
First & foremost: insults, comments, disgusted looks by the people who thought K-Pop is a Gay/ Alien music/ Noise/ and what not. Several times, I have received complaints from the neighbours for listening to K-Pop. People asked me to stop wasting time in these "Gay stuffs". 
Others challenges I have faced include, lack of guidance, lack of knowledge about K-Pop & Korean culture, language barrier, training, financial problems, demotivation, etc.
I have also faced several taunts & comments like "She must have paid money to the organizers!", "This is easy, it's nothing compared to Indian singing contests, Indian Idol, etc", "money can buy everything" , few cursed media saying "I guess media has forgetten about Assam & India's culture that they are covering Kpop stories!". and a lot more.
When I got back to India after the World Festival, instead of appreciating, people asked about the prize money I got and isolated me saying, "oh, here comes the rich or celebrity. She will not talk to us anymore" and left on their own, making me look like somebody with an attitude problem. Just because I am having good results in academics, people became two faced, & talked behind my back, spread rumors too. 
Such things created hiccups in my career and disappointed me, but I never stopped feeding myself with faith. I hope people learn to accept new things, and respect talent & hard work, and stop judging others.
Do you feel that being a girl, in some or the other way, has led you to certain challenges or restrictions?   
To be honest, it is difficult for a girl to survive in this world. With my supportive parents, and sisters, I never felt pressurized or alarmed. Obviously, I face the basic restrictions for being a girl, including those at the institute: time restrictions, security, etc. 
Being looked down by people with a perception that a girl cannot achieve, several comments & taunts. But  when I am with my family, I get confidence & a certain urge to prove the world that girls are no less. I take every challenge a head on, fearlessly, because I know that my family would be there to help me if I stumble or fall. 
What other genre of music you have tried so far? 
I have tried western pop. I love both K-Pop & Western Pop.  
Tell us about your most memorable performance.  
Apart from contest stages, I have performed in Delhi (a couple of times), Hyderabad, & Guwahati. For me, the most memorable performances are the contest performances. Number 1 being the "K-Pop World Festival 2016 in South Korea", for several reasons: it was my first stage performance internationally, in front of a  huge crowd, biggest Celebrity judges & 500 audience judges, biggest stage I have ever stood on. Rap Monster (RM) - BTS (Billboard Music Awardee; my inpiration) was the MC & introduced my performance and also announced my prize, TWICE (most famous K-Pop girl group) handed over the prize to me. I watched my idols performing in front of me and stood on the same stage with them, including BTS, TWICE, MonstaX, EXID, ASTRO, etc. met other idols like 2PM, Secret- Song Jieun, JustJerk, DJ Koo and more.
Next is my 1st performance on stage in Mizoram in 2015, where thousands of people appreciated me for singing K-Pop for the first time. It gave me confidence, experience, positivity, & more self-belief.
Recently, you hosted a small video interaction organized by The Sentinel, in honour and memory of K-Pop singer Kim Jong-hyun & his contributions in the field of music. Share your experience with us.   
Kim Jonghyun was the main vocalist of one of the famous & loved boy bands, "SHINee". As a K-Pop  and music lover, I feel that we have lost a precious gem. I hope the gift of music which he left for us helps the k-fandom to cope up with the loss & gives them strength. People around the globe are mourning upon the loss, and also helping fellow fans to stay strong. I just contributed to the same on behalf of Indian K-Pop fandom. I tried to help others by reminding about his great work, & that we should cherish and celebrate his work. I hope our small contribution in giving tribute to Jonghyun helps people to spread love like Jonghyun did. 
Tell us about your achievements.  
1. First position in the K-POP  Contest India 2016 - Vocal
2. Excellent Vocal Award (3rd position in World) in K-Pop  World Festival 2016- Changwon, South Korea
Rap Monster (RM)- BTS (Billboard Music Award-Top Social Artist 2017; only K-Pop  act to receive get a billoard music award) was the MC & introduced my performance and also announced my prize, TWICE (most famous K-Pop  girl group) handed over the prize.
3. All India Inter University Championship 2015-16: Participant (Swimming)
4. SGFI - Participant (Swimming) for 5 years
Rapid Fire Round:  
* Your Ideal person:  BTS Suga, BTS
* Favourite Song: BTS: Never Mind, First Love, Spring Day, So far away.
* Favourite musical instrument, and why? Violin- because it sounds strong & fierce for strong folk metal music, but at the same time, it is soft & soulful for ballads.
* No. of concerts/ shows you do, a year: Approx. 3-4
* When are you planning to launch your next album? I guess its When I Debut.
* Who would you like to perform a duet with in future? Obviously BTS, Davichi, Hyorin (Sistar), Ailee. But if given a chance, I would love to sing with any K-Pop  idol.
* You spend your leisure time by: Listening & watching K-Pop, internet surfing, sketching, dreaming (yes, but the realistic ones and not fantasies)
* Favourite band/ singer: BTS, BigBang, Davichi, Hyorin, Park Hyo Shin, Eluveitie, & Chester Bennington (Linkin Park)
* Favourite book: A House of Night series.  
* Favourite Actor or Actress: Aamir Khan, Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne Johnson, Jackie Chan, Jason Statham, & Vin Diesel
* Three words that describe you: Passionate-hardworking, optimistic, and sarcastic tomboy.
* Your motto of life: No matter what, keep trying until you get there. Live your dreams at least once. You are responsible for your own happiness, it's your life so get the most out of it so that when you die, you die without regrets.
Kim Jong-hyun, the famous star is no more, but his work & uniqueness will always be preserved. Anything you want to say about him?   
He was one of the top music composers in the K-Pop  industry. He put every bit of his existence into music, even his last words were lyrics of songs he wrote. He wanted to give strength , love & comfort to the world. I hope he rests well & finds the peace he was seeking for a long time, & that people can get strength from his music. I hope people understand the importance of various mental health problems & have the courage to overcome them. Jonghyun's music is a gift to us and his music will be loved forever. 
"You Did Well, Jonghyun."- he wished people will still say these words to him even after he left. I know people feel the same too. He was an angel for K-Pop  industry, & forever will be.Rest in Peace. Rest In Paradise.  
Where do you see yourself in a span of 5 years?  
South Korea (working towards my dreams).
If you are given a magic wand, what will be your three wishes that you would want to make true? 
1) Get perfection in various languages; 2) Get myself an ability to Teleport; and 3) Give my family a comfortable, carefree, happy, & a healthy life.