Shilpa Rao Curated

Artist| Singer| Performer

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Shilpa Rao have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Shilpa Rao'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.

  • Which has been the most challenging song for you ?

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  • How was your childhood like?

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  • You have performed in MTV unplugged and Coke studios. What do you prefer more - recording in a studio or performing live?

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  • It is presumed that Bombay is a little harsh to the newcomers. Did you feel the same when you entered the industry for the first time?

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  • What makes you different from singers like Alka Yagnik and other older generation singers?

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  • How did you get the song 'Saiyaan re' from 'Salaam-e-ishq"?

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  • How is Shilpa Rao in real life?

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  • Who are your favorite singers among the current lot?

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  • Are you also inclined towards composing a song?

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  • Is there any particular time when you realise your voice is better ?

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  • What was your experience of working with AR Rahman?

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  • What is the high that comes from singing in a recording studio as compared to having raw jamming sessions?

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  • Having a good voice and making it as a playback singer, what do you need to get through that journey?

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  • What are your views on Mumbai?

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  • How do you manage the crowd during live shows and performances?

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  • What sort of training have you done in music?

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  • Singers are usually identified by their voice. Do you find it fascinating?

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  • One of your dream collaborations?

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  • A song that you wish you had sung?

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  • One very little known fact about you?

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  • Do you have a few songs that inspired you to be a singer?

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  • What do you feel was the turning point in your life?

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  • You have a degree in Applied statistics. How did this change from statistics to music take place?

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  • One person who has caught your attention in the music industry?

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  • What are your views on the remake and remixes of the original songs?

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  • Who would you choose between Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle?

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  • Which song took you the longest to record?

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  • What do you think of Anu Malik?

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  • What are your views on singing reality shows?

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  • Is there a gender bias in terms of payment in the music industry?

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  • Do you think one can train themselves to be singers with the help of the Internet?

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  • Do you think networking around music directors and filmmakers is important?

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  • How do you,as an artist, pull yourself up through tough times?

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  • Which is the wierdest place where you have been asked to sing?

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  • Besides good voice, what are the things one needs to have to be a good singer?

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  • Diction plays a very significant role for any playback singer. Do you agree?

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  • You have sung some amazing songs but don't you feel the number of songs that you have sung is a little less?

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  • Ghazal is your first love. Why do you feel so?

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  • Are you planning to turn a composer someday?

    I don't know. Thank you for asking me that question. It puts me to that thought process. I will think about it and I will try and compose one song at least someday.

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  • Do you think collaborations play a significant role?

    I love collaborations. I would love to collaborate with a rapper now. It's high time to do something, so I would love to do that. I have learnt from every collaboration of mine and it's such an emotional journey when you interact with another artiste. This is what it's become with the song, and you learn so much. When I was there in the UK, I was looking at how everyone works. You end up learning so many things just by observing other musicians and seeing them at work. It's very important to not just do your part and get out, but also spent that time.

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  • Do you feel there is rivalry among musicians?

    All the musicians are very friendly, and caring like a family. We tease and have fun with each other. In fact, when we meet each other on the red carpet or at some music event, we say 'I love this song of yours'. We do concerts together sometimes. There are multiple artistes at the same concert, so we mingle and talk. There are genuine compliments that come to each other, so I think there is no music rivalry that exists among musicians. Everyone is doing their own thing and nobody shies away from complimenting each other. It's a very healthy way of working.

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  • Do you think that artists are trying to create their identity beyond just as playback singers ?

    There’s a huge difference today. Of course this is a transient period but yes people are taking efforts to make a statement with their performances and their appearances on the red carpet so, artists are working towards creating a brand and that’s what you need in India.

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  • Artists and composers you look up to and would like to work with in the future?

    Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj is someone I look up to and simply adore. His work is inspiring; I would love to sing a song for him someday. I would also like to work with director Imtiaz Ali, we not only hail from the same city but have gone to the same school too.

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  • What is it about film music that keeps you going?

    Our music and films are fast changing, ranging across many genres, experimenting with sound design and taking challenges with musical styles. In short, we are tending to lean towards global music and this is what is keeping me going. I love the fact that I can experiment and try something new with each song I sing.

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  • From Khuda Jaane (Bachna Ae Haseeno) to Malang (Dhoom:3), how has your journey been so far? Any turning point in between that may have inspired you?

    The journey has been bittersweet. I have taken each day and every project as if it were my first. I am fortunate to have worked with the best people in the music fraternity and have learned tremendously from each one of them.

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  • For a singer, his/her voice is their identity. How do you define your voice’s character, considering you have a distinct style of singing?

    All credit goes to my father. He taught me music and most importantly how to choose good music to listen to. My music influences and training have actually shaped my voice and style of singing. Artistes like Sade, Sting, Eddie Vedder, Mehdi Hassan saheb and Amir Khan saheb have been constant influences for me. I have attempted diverse genres and have always tried to put out something new for audiences with every song.

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  • If not a singer, which profession would you be in?

    I am quite useless! All I can do is sing.

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  • What kind of music do you prefer listening to?

    All kinds of music, be it classical, ghazals, from Bollywood or Hollywood. I just go to my CD shelf, choose one and listen to it.

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  • Who is your favorite singer in Bollywood?

    Sunidhi Chauhan rocks. And Shankar Mahadevan is excellent too.

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  • Whom did you learn singing from?

    My father has an MA in music; he was my first teacher. In Jamshedpur, I would participate in a lot of stage shows. I met Shankar Mahadevan at one such show; I think he is also my guru! After shifting to Mumbai, I started taking lessons from Ghulam Khansaab.

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  • How difficult was it for you to get a foothold in Bollywood?

    Everyone needs to struggle at least for a year, I guess. No one serves you cooked food! But if you have talent, no one can stop you in this industry. I used to sing with my father in Jamshedpur, and once Shankar Mahadevan heard me and asked me to come to Mumbai. In the beginning, I did many advertising jingles and then slowly people started listening to my songs, starting with 'Saiyaan' from Salaam-e-Ishq. I would like to tell those struggling singers that you will get your rightful place in this industry if you persevere and work your way towards it.

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  • How's your career doing after 'Khuda Jaane'?

    Fingers crossed! It's just the beginning, but I think it's rocking. And after 'Khuda Jaane', life has changed with lots of offers coming in. Although I had started getting offers after 'Woh Ajnabee', since 'Khuda Jaane' was a Yash Raj song, I guess I got a lot more fame from that number.

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  • Do you think collaborations help Indian music reach out to a global audience?

    I think a lot of collaborations should happen that way because it’s a very healthy way of working. I know we have a lot of technology. And because of that, it is possible for us to not be in the same room to interact. But it’s so much sweeter when you are there, in the same room, while collaborating. These kind of collaborations are very important because the whole point of it is that everyone who is working on that song brings their own personality into it, and when we do that, it just multiples and creates a beautiful concoction. Original music and collaborations like these will improve the current state of music. We need more original composers, writers and singers. I think we need people to come up with new songs and that is the only way forward.

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  • Do you think collaborations help Indian music reach out to a global audience?

    I think a lot of collaborations should happen that way because it’s a very healthy way of working. I know we have a lot of technology. And because of that, it is possible for us to not be in the same room to interact. But it’s so much sweeter when you are there, in the same room, while collaborating. These kind of collaborations are very important because the whole point of it is that everyone who is working on that song brings their own personality into it, and when we do that, it just multiples and creates a beautiful concoction. Original music and collaborations like these will improve the current state of music. We need more original composers, writers and singers. I think we need people to come up with new songs and that is the only way forward.

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  • Tell me about Manmarziyan from Lootera. You have worked with Amit Trivedi for many years now. Whenever you two come together, you make some great songs. How do you feel about it?

    He casts really well. His USP is that. Apart from being a great composer, he chooses the right people. And the singer doesn’t have to exert too much. With Manmarziyan there was no brief that he gave me, and neither did he lead me to sing in a particular way. The only background he gave me was that it was based in the ‘50s in Bengal. The singing style had to be Indian but it was a modern song, so it could not sound dated. And he also knows I cannot sing in a dated way. Amitabh Bhattacharya [lyricist] is also a good friend. With the three of us, there are no explanations required. For example, the song was originally Marziya, but I sang a line and he said Manmarziyan would sound better. We recorded it in 30 minutes. It was a perfect song, casting wise. I am not saying that nobody else would be able to what I did. But our strength and limitations were just right for the song. Even the way you make mistakes can work for a song.

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  • How was it working with AR Rahman for Ishq shava in Jab Tak Hai Jaan?

    I had this perception in my head that he was quiet person, but he is not! I met him at Yash Raj studio - he was there, and then were Gulzar, Yashji, Aditya Chopra...it was a great sight! He gave me the song and we began to chat. He said that he had seen my unplugged video and he had my song Dhol [from Dev D] on his iPod. He asked me, 'Where do you want to record - here or go into the booth? Record here, because I will scare you!' I said, 'I am already scared'! He is a lot of fun, as opposed to what I had heard about him. He allows singers to be themselves, and that’s why he extracts the best from them.

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  • You also have an independent band…. What gives you a bigger high – performing live or recording songs for movies?

    We are damn greedy - we want everything! Sab laake de do! We are happy doing everything - recording, singing live, jamming with friends....all these experiences add to your repertoire as an artiste. Do not limit yourself to anything. Being a full time artiste means experiencing all kinds of music. And working with other singers is a lot of fun anyway.

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  • There was a time when there were just a couple of female singers at the top. Today there are loads of them and there is tough competition. How do you feel about that?

    Earlier, the composers would not take a chance with newer singers. Singers were always around. Just that you don’t know them because they hardly got a chance. Singers who go to the composers today get picked up. We get a chance today, which didn’t happen in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

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  • When did you feel that you wanted to pursue a career in singing?

    When I was 13 years old I met Hariharan uncle in Mumbai. He felt I had the knack to be a singer. I never had that confidence in myself, but a man of his stature having that much confidence in me was inspiring. And that’s when I changed things in my head and started focusing on singing

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  • Was it your father's dream to see you sing, or was it your own?

    It wasn’t my dream at all. I never thought of being a musician or anything, for that matter. He wanted me to. Of course, he also saw that I was inclined to listening to music. - that is a bigger passion for me than singing. I never wanted to be a musician when I was a kid. These days children have specific goals about what they want to be. Dad never forced me, though. He made a point that I learn music, and later on what I wanted to do with it was a different thing.

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  • How many years were you in Mumbai before you got your first break?

    I was in Mumbai for three years in college. I did a lot of jingles. It’s a great training ground for any singer. If you have just been singing and do not know how to record, jingles are a great learning experience. Singing live is another ball game altogether, but if you are in front of the microphone in the studio, it’s totally different. I think learning and getting a firm grip on that front was what happened in that phase. Those three years prepped me for playback.

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  • The song 'Ghunghroo' has gotten tremendous success and fans love it. You, of course, have had hits before but how does that feel to have that now?

    We work day in and out. It is nice to take a moment to celebrate something that comes your way. It gives you life. It is good on your brain, it is good on your body. So yeah, I am taking this moment to actually do that. I am very grateful to all the fans for all the love that they have shown. And consistently for every song of mine – I am truly grateful. They have accepted me in every avatar that I have. I am touched. It is pretty amazing! It is just all about love and gratitude. I want to say all the best to the whole War team, everyone. I am looking forward to it with Hrithik, Tiger and Vani. It is a lot of effort that everyone has put in so I am hoping the best for all of us.

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  • How cool is it to see your song on the big screen? For example, seeing Vani in that scene where she is flying on the pole, that must be just so cool as a person and a singer.

    It’s cool because what we do is a very audio medium. The visuals are very much in our imagination…so like you read a book and you visualize situations in your head. Siddharth Anand, he has this prowess of making great videos and he never fails. He never fails. He always wows us with his brilliant enactment of the song. With ‘Ghungroo’, it was so brilliant because you feel that Oh My God this is a Ghungroo song, I don’t know it may be more of a dance routine but those chill vibes he has kept in the song is amazing. That chill vibe and ending with that little casual step that Hrithik does is beautiful and Vani, she looks like a diva. She looks like a goddess.

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  • When you see the lyrics the first time and then take them in, for ‘Ghungroo’ or any other song you have sung… what do you take with you when you go into the studio?

    We have some great writers here doing the rounds. In this case it is Kumaar, he has done many Hindi songs. He’s known for his songs and is a hit machine when it comes to writing lyrics. He has done so much work before. There is Amitabh Bhattacharya, there is Irshad Kamil and all these people have such great sense of thought verses metering versus the whole bounds of the lyric because it is not just to set a meter and rhyming words – it is more than that. It is the thought and every word that has its own balance and a freedom about that word. These people do it so beautifully that I think half the job is done. Because when we go sing the song all we need to do is let the words come through you. Emotion is everything and it all comes down to how you connect to these words. These amazing writers and musicians make our job so much easier.

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  • How did you get into the mode and the vibe of that because as you said you have to change each time you sing a new track?

    I think for a good musician you need to be a good listener… I mean you have to listen to music. That is a very integral part as a musician so you have to listen to a lot of music, different kinds of music and have an open mind to it most importantly. That is something which I feel is very important. Like you mentioned funk, so it would help if someone already heard funk music before, so then you can connect with the sound experience. When you are creating a funk sound it lends itself to do that and to be easier on me to do that. Also what the music composer wants from you – it is good to listen to them. Then adapt as to what the emotion of the song is. Then, of course, you do your own thing and also being yourself. That is very, very important for every musician to be themselves. But to have that prior and added knowledge of this is what the music is, this are the artists that are playing this type of music – it helps a lot!

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  • Now I know you have worked with Vishal-Shekhar before so tell us about working with them preparing a song and in the studio?

    It’s almost like a welcome back home for me to sing with them because there is so much work we have done over a period of 10 years now. It is that familiarity; it’s that whole understanding that we come from the same musical sensibilities. It’s very comfortable, and fun as well, to work with them every single time. And that’s how it transcends into the song. That is what we have done for ‘Ghungroo’ also.

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  • How would you describe you vocals? Because you have so many layers and different ways you present a song.

    Everyone has a different journey with their own voice and that is what makes us unique. I feel that there is something new that I always discover with every song that I do. There is always an effort that I put in to try to put out a new way and a part of myself to the audiences so that it’s interesting, it’s fresh. It’s something that probably I have not done myself. I feel challenged because the whole point of doing new music was to have a different day every day. That is pretty much our lives here. Every project is different. Every song that we do is much different from what we have done before. The situations are different. Even with the changing times and the changing phases of music and production, it’s nice to challenge yourself in that way.

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  • Was singing something you always wanted to do?

    Well, as a kid, there was no such thing as any aspiration or anything like that. It was just a very normal childhood. I was learning music but I was just studying in a very simple way. But then much later, probably in school, I started to get a little focused about it. Singing was very late in life.

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  • We recently had a controversy in children’s reality shows with Papon. What is your take on these shows?

    On a day to day basis, we need to teach our boys and girls to know what good and bad touch is in their surroundings. And, how to be aware of themselves, and how nobody can even interact with them without their permission. There is a pressure with everything you do actually. I can’t say much because my brother and I had a very simple childhood. We went to school, came back home, played, and my father would play music, nothing beyond that. I don’t know the other side where you are at a place like this. But I hope parents and guardians who send their children for reality shows are more sensitive with the kids. It is a personal choice whether you want to send your child somewhere or not, but I really hope they look at this a little sensitively because it is the small child that you are talking about.

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  • What is your say about the remix culture in Bollywood?

    I think the songs were classics because they were originals some years ago. So, we need to make some originals so they can be classics too some years from now. So, I think we should put our energies into making original music.

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  • Longevity of singers in Bollywood is short lived too. Some become famous overnight and then fizzle out. Your thoughts?

    It is a common myth that once you get a break you’ll keep getting good work. That you do certain hit songs and then everything is hunky dory. It is not like that. Every day is a new day here. Listen to what is happening around. There are new productions, new vocals. Go for a concert. There is so much out there – jazz, funk, rock or whatever. It is important to keep yourself updated and to have an attitude to keep learning. Anybody who wants to make it and be there needs to work on their art, craft every day. There is no such thing that you have achieved it and that is it.

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  • How has the industry taken your music?

    They have been very warm towards me. That’s why I have been around for so long. I have been fortunate to do things that challenge me and do something that is out of the normal. I like challenges that make me push myself. It is extremely stimulating.

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  • You are particularly known for trying new styles in your songs and singing for different genres. How easy or difficult is to remain ‘unique’ in this industry?

    Well, it is difficult to do different things all the time. It is not an easy thing. I also put in an effort to put a song that is new for the audience all the time. So, it is pretty much a conscious effort to sound different, to try something new. I chose this life that every day is different, where every day is like a question mark and you have to kind of figure everything from the start. I like to do that, not only in music but also my life. I like trying a new cuisine or watching a movie. I like doing things differently.

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  • You have been around for ten years. How was your journey through these years?

    I have worked with everybody in the industry. It feels great to work with everyone, in fact learn from everyone while working with them. The best part is that nobody tried to change me in any manner. I never wanted to change my voice in any manner. The industry has let me be myself. So, it is a huge thank you to the last ten years in the industry.

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  • One musical advice you wish to give beginners?

    If gotten a chance, do learn Hindustani Classical Music. It will help you throughout! There is no training like Indian Classical Music

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  • What's your practice routine like?

    I do riyaaz for at least three hours a day. As a child, I used to do riyaaz for three hours at a stretch; but later on one would be pressed for time. If you don't sing for at least three hours a day, your voice turns harsh.

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  • An artist you wish to collaborate with?

    Has to be Vishal Bhardwaj. I am a fan of his music and I wish to work with him.

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  • Four artists you are listening to right now?

    My current favourite is Chaap Tilak from Coke Studio. Jasleen Royal’s song Panchi is also great; I love listening to her. Also, Parvaaz, Adi & Suhail.

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  • Being an established Bollywood playback singer, you have drifted towards independent music lately. Shed some light on that.

    I performed at Coke Studio with my band and I enjoyed it. Being a playback singer is great, but making your own music is even more wonderful. I am currently going for a tour with my band. I would say that I am balancing both the scenes rather than drifting or inclining towards one.

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  • What is your take on reality shows?

    It’s a great platform for new talent to be seen and heard. But after that it is their own journey to discover what they can become.

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  • How did your musical journey begin?

    I didn’t dream of becoming a musician. It was my father who inspired me to take up music and learn it diligently. With time my focus on music became stronger,” says the energetic singer.My meeting with Hariharan uncle changed everything. He gave me the faith that I can be a good musician. This coming from a man like him made me believe in myself. I was 13 years old then. I had met (music director) Mithoon when I was in college. He called me for the song Tose Naina and sang it to me on a harmonium. I knew that very moment that it would turn out to be a great and timeless song. I was a new singer but Mithoon and Director Manish Jha showed so much faith in me and thanks to the audience for the love they showed for this song.

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  • What are your views on a very popular song of yours, 'Khuda Jaane', from 'Bachana Ae Haseeno'?

    I was very intimidated when I first heard the song. It is a very difficult song and I did not know how to approach it. Its whole graph is challenging. The biggest effort to sound effortless in all songs is the effort you put in all the back-end work. In Khuda Jaane, my voice has to hit the lower octaves and then higher octaves with no space to breathe between the words. I have to give it to Vishal-Shekhar for seeing me in that light. It’s a perfect combo of good melody, vocals, and picturisation. There are few songs where everything comes together. It’s a great feeling that people remember the song so well till now.

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  • What kind of music do you like to listen?

    I listen to any music that I like listening to. I enjoy trip-hop like Zero 7 or funk like Jamiroquai alongside [sitarist] Nikhil Banerjee or Mehdi Hassan.

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  • Do you think there is gender equality in the music industry?

    Most albums these days predominantly feature male voices. In the ’90s, you had duets or male-female versions of a song. Then, women started getting item numbers. But now, it’s not equally divided. We need more solo female songs. There’s so much talk in the UK and US about female representation, and movements in Saudi Arabia about women’s right to driving, why can’t we bring about that change in the industry? Does me singing a few lines or many lines matter? In Bulleya, if you remove my lines, the song is incomplete. The song is about the relationship between the two individuals, and the song makes sense, only when the female part is in. If you take Beyonce’s two lines out of Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend, does the song stand? I don’t see the point of singing 10 songs a year and them not working in any way. I’d rather sing one antara in a year, but that should stick.

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