Harshdeep Kaur Curated

Indian playback singer

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This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Harshdeep Kaur have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Harshdeep Kaur's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming singers. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • What is your favourite genre of music?

    I love Sufi music. Sufi music is very close to my heart, and that’s also how I started my singing career when I won the title Sufi Ki Sultana back in 2008. I have grown up listening to stalwarts like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab and Abida Parveen ji. So it came naturally to me that I have to give good music to my audience, music that soothes and heals. If we particularly talk about Bollywood songs, I feel a beautiful song first comes from the composer’s/creator’s mind, and the lyricists who write such beautiful lyrics. The director then comes up with a situation that actually defines the song’s destiny. Once they do all this, is when they bring a singer in the picture. The ‘Sur’ and ‘Taal’ is of course very important when it comes to singing these songs, but I feel feelings and expressions play an equally important role. It is about how a singer owns the song.

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  • What do you think worked so wonderfully for your songs in Manmarziyaan?

    Manmarziyaan is all heart. It is extremely soulful but with an edge since it is an Anurag Kashyap film. I really enjoyed singing these songs and performing live in concerts that followed the film’s promotions. This is that kind of project for me, which is all about good original music. I have worked with Amit Trivedi before, and I love the fact that he experiments with my voice. That’s why I like recording for him, his music is modern, different and has so many textures. And still, he keeps the melody intact.

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  • How do you choose or reject a song?

    The kind of songs that I get are luckily custom made for my voice. I feel very blessed to be telling you this. I think it is because now the music directors know what kind of songs would suit my voice, my vocal range, and my style. They also bring out the best in me by testing my versatility. Like singing “Twist Kamariya” (from Bareilly Ki Barfi) was totally different for me. So these beautiful songs have been offered to me. But if I have to choose a song, I always check the lyrics first. Any song which I feel has derogatory words or has double meanings or are vulgar, then I upright say no. I don’t feel comfortable singing such songs, and I feel it is my responsibility, as a musician, to give out good songs, and meaningful music.

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  • How do you get the emotions right in almost all your songs?

    For me to totally soak the song, I always talk to the makers on what the situation is like when the song is placed in the film, what is it that the characters are feeling while emoting on screen. So, I can then imagine that situation and I become that character while singing that song. For Jab Tak Hai Jaan’s “Heer”, I remember meeting Aaditya Chopra and A R Rahman sir in the studio where they discussed with me the kind of scenes the song has, and what is happening to the character in the sequence. They told me how Katrina Kaif’s character is born and brought up abroad, and she is singing a song for her dad, and that she is wearing a Punjabi suit. So I could imagine Katrina wearing that dress, holding a guitar and singing the song. So I thought about her while singing the song, and it helped. Singing “Dilbaro” from Raazi was such an emotional moment for me, as I imagined myself being the young Kashmiri bride who was getting married and leaving not just her house but her country too, that too at such a tender age.

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  • Have you ever been at the receiving end of misgovernance?

    There are a lot of things which needs to be done in our country. Sometimes I feel there should be more facilities, better infrastructure and better health benefits to every citizen.

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  • What’s your opinion about online music sharing?

    Nowadays digital media plays a pivotal role in establishing an artist. On one click you can listen any artist or music from any corner of the world. The internet is your stage now.

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  • What do you enjoy the most, playback singing or live performances?

    I love both! The process of learning a new song and then recording it on the mic is a beautiful experience. You play with the notes and try different styles of singing. Live performance, on the other hand, gives you an opportunity to connect and interact with your audience. And you have to be really good on stage as there are no retakes.

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  • Was the music industry hostile or supportive in your initial days?

    I have been very lucky to have met mostly nice people in the industry. I got a lot of encouragement from all music directors.

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  • How do you feel about your journey in Bollywood so far?

    My musical journey has been really beautiful. It was my childhood dream to become a playback singer and today I’m blessed to be a part of the Bollywood music industry and I’ve worked with almost every music director. It feels great when your dedication and hard work is recognised by the world.

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  • Tell us how you got attracted towards Sufi genre?

    I have been a big fan of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Saab, Abida Parveen-ji and Reshma. Their music is extremely soulful and connects you to the almighty. The poetry is meaningful and mesmerising too. This is one of the main reasons I was inclined towards Sufi music.

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  • What are the challenges faced by singers in the music industry now?

    Earlier, singers needed to step out of their comfort zones and sing. Nowadays the flexibility has increased. Electronic things have increased, now songs are made considering the singer’s qualities. This is the change I have come across, it’s all flexibility.

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  • What kind of music do you like?

    I like good music, but mostly I love songs which serene your heart. The song should either make you cry or should make you dance with all happiness.

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  • How old were you when you decided to take up music seriously?

    I have always wanted to become a singer. It was my dad who initiated me into music when I was 5. Gradually, I realized this is what I wanted to do. I never tried my hand at anything else. Mujhe to hamesha se hi singer banna tha.

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  • What is it with the turban?

    When Junoon was on, I had to sing Sufi songs and for spiritual reasons, I wanted to keep my head covered. I thought of the churni, but my brother-in-law suggested that I use the turban. On one occasion, I took my dad’s turban and wrapped it around my head. When the posters came out, I realized that it looked rather good. I continued to sport the look throughout the show. After Junoon, I realized, whenever I performed live without my turban, people would question the absence of it. By then, it had become a part of my identity.

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  • Do you think reality shows work?

    It depends on a lot of factors. Reality shows are just a platform to showcase yourself. For example, Junoon — Kuchh Kar Dikhaane Ka helped me create my identity. But such a show can never guarantee that you’ll get noticed by music directors or land playback offers in Bollywood. Luck too has a role to play.

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  • How is it performing live at such prestigious events?

    Live acts are a different ballgame. When you are recording songs in a studio, you only have your own reactions and the feedback of your family or colleagues to bank upon. But in a live act, the reaction of the audience is instant, honest and not calculated. Of course, these international tours happen on a much larger scale. The vibes you get from the audience is priceless.

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  • You have sung so many devotional songs. Do you have a spiritual bent of mind?

    I am just a singer. From Bolly to Sufi, I like singing all kinds of songs. You can call me spiritual. I think the best religion is humanity and I believe in it wholeheartedly.

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  • How is it working with AR Rahman on live concerts?

    He is very down to earth. I can’t call him strict. I have never seen him lose his temper. He is always calm and composed. But he is very particular. He takes an interest in each aspect of a tour. Even during the rehearsals, he keeps checking the stage decorations.

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  • What is your message to young, budding artists who want to pursue a career in music?

    In today’s digital age, the reach to audiences has become a lot simpler. There are different mediums and even though this may be a boon and you can get a million views so easily, it has its own drawbacks that one may find success easily and get distracted instead of focusing on long term goals. If you love music and are passionate about it, then you must learn classical music and take formal training in music and not find short cuts. A trained singer will have a long-lasting career. Hence learning with dedication is very important with the correct teacher and to keep self analysing your art and making changes in your music style depending on current trends in music.

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  • Your name has become synonymous with a certain quality and genre of songs — profound, heart touching melodies, accompanied by lyrics that are inspiring and at times spiritual. How do you choose the projects you lend your voice to?

    When I go to dub a song, I go through the lyrics first, as based on the meaning and substance of the lyrics, I convey my emotions in my voice. I don’t want to come back home and feel bad about singing a particular song. I always need to be comfortable with the words and once I know it is suiting my voice, I give my best to the song. Now, I have kind of established a good reputation among the music composers and so they call me to sing what suits my voice the best and what I am comfortable with. When a singer is open to experimenting with different styles, the music director feels very happy. Pritam Chakraborty da always calls me to do something unique. He likes experimenting with my vocal tone. Also, for Vishal-Shekhar, I sang a song called “Uff” from Bang Bang (2014) which is very different. “Sachi Muchi” from Sultan (2016) is totally unique as I sang it in a Haryanvi style. Amit Trivedi also loves to experiment with my voice and all songs of Manmarziyaan (2018) are very different. Amit instructed me to sing “Grey Walaa Shade” in a husky, secretive, sensual style as it had the flavor of love with a grey wala like shade. “Jaisi Teri Marzi” was typically romantic and had a sufi touch to it of submitting yourself to your lover. “Chonch Ladhiyaan” had a very folksy tune and a simplicity that I had to bring in my voice. Lyrics were really unique like “Sutlej de wich samunder nachey and that naughtiness I had to bring through my voice.

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  • What are your goals for yourself as an independent artist — regarding projects outside of films?

    In independent music, I seriously want to create a specific sound for myself that people can relate to. I want people to recognise my sound. Also, just lyrics and music don’t complete a song, so my songs will have soul and emotion. Also, I will not run after quantity and not try to create numbers and rather focus on good quality music to play to future generations. Meaningful lyrics are really important. Meaningful stuff grows on you.

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  • Your journey in the film industry has been unlike any other’s thanks to your distinct voice and identity as an artist. How important is it for playback singers to balance being versatile on one hand and also unique on the other?

    Audiences are much smarter today and they know the distinction between a true artist who can communicate his feelings to the audience. It is very important to identify your own uniqueness and work upon it as there are so many voices and you need to survive. Also, the industry can typecast you to sing a particular genre like sad songs or love songs or rustic songs. So, I have tried to manoeuver my voice with different styles of singing and most of it is due to the constant pushing of my father towards formal training in music. I’ve sung songs from “Ik Onkar” and “Kabira” to “Jhak Maar Ke” and “Twist Kamariya” and it’s not just playback singing as you are the voice of somebody else, so it’s important to have the right emotion while singing a particular song. You act the song just as much as you sing it. In “Katiya Karoon”, A.R. Rahman sir had asked me to sing in a funny style with a nasal voice and peppy attitude. So, I had to imagine myself in that situation. In “Jhak Maar Ke”, I had to do a lot of drama that I am angry with John Abraham. So you have to pay attention to the story line and become that character.

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  • Tell us a little about when you started conceptualising this ambitious project of ' Satguru Nanak Aaye Ne' ?

    We are traditionally a very religious Punjabi family and earlier this year, when we knew it was the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev ji, my husband Mankeet Singh and I decided that we must do something as a humble tribute to commemorate this significant historical date. I then decided to compose a religious song for this occasion, something that would be simple and hummable so that every single person who hears it, recites it instantly. I got the song written by Jagmeet Bal and Charanjit Singh. Once the song was completed, I realised that this cannot be just about me. It will be much bigger if I get a few industry colleagues to be a part of this too. That’s when I contacted the singers and everyone came on board without a blink. I reworked the music keeping in mind who would be singing which part and that’s how I composed and divided the antara, the mukhda, the alaaps the ad libs so that each one got to sing in their best style. One thing led to another and we decided to not just to leave it as a musical piece but also shot a video with all of us in it together. The end product is so beautiful and so full of devotion and I am blessed that all these legendary singers are part of this ‘Shabad’.

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  • Do you plan to release material in English songs?

    I am trained in Indian and Western classical music; so, I learnt opera singing and the piano. When I was on tour with A R Rahman sir, he called me and said, 'Why do I feel you can also sing Western music?' He played the piano, and I sang in English. And then, he said, 'Okay, good.' A few months later, he was assigning singers for Slumdog Millionaire, and for the English track Dreams On fire, he remembered me. When you don't go about flaunting a certain skill, but are recognised for it, it feels good.

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  • How important is it for a good singer to also be a good performer?

    In the early part of my career, I would sing a song, then introduce the next one, sing it, and then introduce the next again. When I'd see the recordings, I realised that something was missing. So, I began watching other artistes to notice what they were doing on stage. I realised that when someone pays money for a concert, they want to have a good time. So a singer must think about what the audience wants, and how to involve and interact with them by talking to them, and making them sing along.

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  • You started working young. Does the child in you feel cheated?

    Not at all. If I was in a profession that I wasn't enjoying, I'd possibly feel that way. But, as a kid I loved going for music classes, competing and performing. My parents would ask me if I was having fun, and that I should tell them if I felt tired. I never missed my studies, though. I'd carry books in the car, and study. In fact, I always felt special. My friends would say, "Oh, we saw you on TV."

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  • Who would you say is your favourite composer?

    I can’t name any composer as every time I work with someone, the experience is new. I feel every song brings out a different emotion in you. I have worked with so many composers. It has been a different experience working with each of them and I have enjoyed working with them all.

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  • How would you describe your journey in Bollywood so far?

    It has been amazing. I have got the opportunity to work with most of Bollywood’s music directors and learnt a lot from them. It has been like a dream.

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  • How would you like to rate yourself?

    I always try to give my best. For the song Zaalima, I was briefed to sound romantic yet cute. I did the best I could; the rest was done by Mahira and SRK. My voice matches her I feel.

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