Shreya Ghoshal Curated

Award-winning Playback Singer

CURATED BY :  


  • Do you understand the Malayali language?

  • Would you describe yourself to be a story or a song?

  • How would you describe yourself apart from the career side of yourself?

  • In how many languages can you sing?

  • Would you call yourself a perfectionist? 

  • Tell us something about your news song which is release on Digital media?

    I was thinking of releasing it later but I was not sure how long the lockdown would go on, so I just released it on my channel. It's co-composed by me and my brother

  • Are you gong to compose songs regularly now?

    I am trying to work on some stuff. It takes a little while to crack a good song. I am not a born composer, I am more of a singer than a composer. I do have a lot of projects that are coming to me some nice compositions from friends so, I am collaborating with people and I am ideating,"

  • What about songs those are made for films?

    I have always wanted to create something that I want to sing. I don't always want to depend on a film. Film songs are limited to the story or the setting of the film

  • What kind of song you like to sing?

    I am as fluid as one can think of. The kind of music I listen to is quite versatile. I don't limit myself. But I like slightly challenging songs,

  • Tell us about One Nation initiative?

    Everyone is at home, their morale is down. It's been over a month of lockdown. We needed to do something to cheer up people. Also, we are raising funds. I want to help as much as possible. A lot of underprivileged people are there who need a lot of support. This is for that and also to bring a smile on a lot of faces

  • How do you feel about this lock down period?

    There was a time when I felt 24 hours were less in a day, now I feel there is so much time and less to do. So doing virtual concerts keeps people positive

  • What news skills you have acquired during this long lockdown period?

    Although I am saying that I have a lot of time, the fact remains that most of the day goes in doing the household chores. And it is difficult. So from cleaning to cooking to keeping the house tidy, I am doing it all

  • How are you keeping yourself fit?

    Some form of home exercises keep me occupied, too. I watch news regularly, a lot of people are affected in this pandemic. I am trying to do my bit by actively trying to help out the needy through donations

  • What keeps you busy other than singing?

    Music, TV shows and more singing. When I am not recording I will be doing live shows or be home catching up on shows which I regularly follow. I also love watching the latest seasons of English shows. But there will always be some music around me. I love the idea of waking up to a song. It could be any song.

  • Have you seen any changes in the industry since you began your career?

    A lot has changed and it is for the good. The quality of music has improved and the industry is seeing a lot of new talent. What is amazing is the importance which regional music is being given. It proves that music knows no boundaries. Talking of regional music, how comfortable are you singing in languages other than Hindi and Bengali? I learnt to sing in Bengali, then went on to sing in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati and every possible Indian language. My first Telugu song was for music director Mani Sharma in the Gunasekhar-directed Okkadu. The film was produced by M.S. Raju and was released in 2003. The first song was ‘Nuvvemmaya Chesavo Kaani’ and the song became quite a rage. In fact I sang for the Tamil industry even before I started singing in Hindi. During my ‘Sa re ga ma pa’ days as a contestant I was practising in the long corridors of the Mahalakshmi studios and Karthik Raja heard me. I was a kid and my voice was yet to mature then, so he would make me sing alaaps for his compositions. Regional work excites me as the industry is less commercial.

  • How do you manage to sing in regional languages without understanding the meaning?

    Yes, in the beginning I used to think understanding the lyrics is better to emote. But music director Illayaraja sir corrected me when I was singing for him. He said, ‘Go as the song goes. If you want to understand and emote as you sing, you will only spoil the flavour and kill the innocence of the musical experience for the listeners.

  • Are you pro-regional music?

    Totally. Like I said earlier regional work excites me and that’s because of the folk music which one hardly get to hear. That’s the sound people are waiting to listen to in reality.

  • How would you compare the yesteryear music with the music of today?

    Music to me is always good. A lot has changed since the 60s. That was the time when any music was rarely mediocre and the change has been gradual. That was the time when people were patient and waited in excitement for a new song or a new composition. The present industry is hard-pressed for time. There is a constant demand for music and the industry has to make supply possible. While that’s leaving many musicians confused, there are others who are able to impress the audience. One thing is for sure, synthetic music of today cannot match the rustic classical music. Music has to feel the influence of time.

  • Is there any one place where you can do without music?

    I need my music even when I am taking a shower.

  • Any regret of not singing a song which you enjoy listening to?

    If I like a song then I like it in totality and wouldn’t think I can do better justice to it.

  • What do you prefer? A live performance or a studio recording?

    Live performance. A studio is like a meditation room where music is created. And a live performance is the place where the creation of the studio is taken ahead. I love both.

  • How liberating is a platform like MixTape for a singer?

    MixTape is a fun platform where there is a lot of happiness. There is freedom to express your take on a song. There is a lot of freedom and that is what we celebrate on this platform.

  • Singing in front of a live/studio audience could be exhilarating. Does it still give you goosebumps? Are there any dos and don’ts?

    Of course, singing in front of a live audience is a completely different experience. I was mentioning it to someone right now that when I sing my own songs on a stage, the energy of the audience dictates how I am going to be rendering that song that day. Yes, people’s presence and the love they shower on us gives me goosebumps every time.

  • Is the process of singing in a studio, with just the microphone inside a tiny room spiritual? How does that feel like?

    I think studio for me is a temple. When I enter the studio, I forget everything. It happens naturally because that place has energy. We are creating out of nowhere. From scratch, a new song is born. So, yes, it is a beautiful experience every time.

  • The last few years have seen rise of many singers. The monopoly seems to have been broken. How do you look at it?

    Breaking barriers is what music is all about. Finding one’s inner voice is what music is all about. Every time there has to be something new and exciting. So, this is the time that the opportunity has come finally. The idea of monopoly was restrictive and there was not much space for creativity. It was restricting people from exploring the kind of things that they were capable of doing. Today so many different kinds of voices are singing. Different styles of composers have come in. Different genres are there. Rap is happening. Dance tracks are coming in. Romantic songs are there and classical music is also getting in. Folk is finding its space. Everything is happening. That’s what Bollywood is and that’s why we are so different and celebrated around the world.

  • The music trend changes periodically. You have seen so many changes yourself. How do you look at the current trend, where original compositions often clash with recreations?

    Recreations are okay if you do couple of them but now if every other song is a recreation, it is pretty sad. I feel even the audiences feel it. They want to listen to new songs and they are feeling, ‘Okay, this song we have already heard and now there is a new beat on it.’ Some of the recreations are done smartly where there is a new colour to it and there is a completely new take to it. However, some of them are just about re-doing a popular song.

  • We have heard so many female singers speak about the lack of female voices in Bollywood films. Because the narrative is majorly male driven, the opportunities are given to male singers.

    Tell me how many films are happening where the lead is female. Where the story is about her? She is probably a part of the supporting cast. Maybe the times will change but we definitely need female-driven narratives so that there is a female voice also. But I feel sometimes it doesn’t really need a script, which is female-driven. It can be a story or the montage song which can be about the journey of that character and which can be in a female voice. It’s all about the directors and how they perceive.

  • I know it’s too early but recently Sanjay Leela Bhansali announced his next directorial. We all know that a Bhansali cast might undergo change, but you are always a constant. Has there been a discussion with him regarding a possible song in the film?

    That’s one thing the whole media knows that how secretive he is about anything that he does. So, I respect that. In the past also, every time I have worked in a film, whether I have worked for two or three years, people have a lot of curiosity. I never speak about it until he gives me the permission. So, I will respect that absolutely.

  • You were trained in classical music, but not many singers in the industry have that background today. How important is it to learn classical music?

    Many people feel that classical music is not relevant to film music today, but that’s not true. Even if one doesn’t get to learn classical music, there’s a need to be exposed to good music. If you have a strong hold in classical music, you become versatile, and have the skill toi mprovise and make every song better. People like Amit Trivedi (composer) and AR Rahman (composer) give you the scope and freedom to experiment and innovate.

  • What do you think about the current crop of B-Town singers?

    There are a lot of interesting voices. The styles of compositions are also fresh because of many composers coming in. But, my only concern is the lack of uniqueness. While there are many versatile artistes, I think, to stay relevant with the trend, singers try to sound like the voice that delivered a recent hit. In fact, even composers say, “This song was sung by so and so, and was a hit. Tum bhi waise hi gaa do (even you sing like that).” Singers don’t get the freedom that was there in the past.

  • Do you think the struggle to enter the industry today is the same as it used to be in the past?

    I don’t really know what struggle means as I was fortunate to enter the industry at a very young age. My struggle was to ensure that I didn’t get carried away, and continued to put in the hard work. But I knew that there were people who’d spend days outside the studios of composers to meet them. I think that struggle is not there today. The real struggle today is to stand out in the crowd.

  • Have you seen any changes in the industry since you began your career?

    A lot has changed and it is for the good. The quality of music has improved and the industry is seeing a lot of new talent. What is amazing is the importance which regional music is being given. It proves that music knows no boundaries. Talking of regional music, how comfortable are you singing in languages other than Hindi and Bengali? I learnt to sing in Bengali, then went on to sing in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati and every possible Indian language. My first Telugu song was for music director Mani Sharma in the Gunasekhar-directed Okkadu. The film was produced by M.S. Raju and was released in 2003. The first song was ‘Nuvvemmaya Chesavo Kaani’ and the song became quite a rage. In fact I sang for the Tamil industry even before I started singing in Hindi. During my ‘Sa re ga ma pa’ days as a contestant I was practising in the long corridors of the Mahalakshmi studios and Karthik Raja heard me. I was a kid and my voice was yet to mature then, so he would make me sing alaaps for his compositions. Regional work excites me as the industry is less commercial.

  • How would you compare the music of yesteryear with the music of today?

    Music to me is always good. A lot has changed since the 60s. That was the time when any music was rarely mediocre and the change has been gradual. That was the time when people were patient and waited in excitement for a new song or a new composition. The present industry is hard-pressed for time. There is a constant demand for music and the industry has to make supply possible. While that’s leaving many musicians confused, there are others who are able to impress the audience. One thing is for sure, synthetic music of today cannot match the rustic classical music. Music has to feel the influence of time.

  • You have sung in several languages, what’s your perspective on the different working styles of these regional film industries?

    Frankly speaking, it is just pure joy doing great music. The amount of good work in regional films is more challenging and fulfilling than mainstream Bollywood. Malayalam songs are not just numbers made to fit into the story. Malayalam songs offer a continuous momentum for the script. It has a lot of meaning. Similarly, Bengali songs. What good literature? I love this variety and the richness. Bollywood is more ruled by blockbusters. The focus is on viral content that is short lived. Finally, Art has nothing to do with language. I should be able to look back, much older and credit myself for the work I have done. I am so privileged to be given an opportunity to work with such amazing composers and lyricists.

  • You have been on both sides of the fence – as a participant and as a judge for TV shows/competitions. Which side of the fence do you prefer to be on?

    Both are equally tiring. As a participant, there was no grooming, no clothes selection when I contested. The greatest stage I got was to sing in front of some great musicians. Some people who are now no more. It had nothing to do with reality. Singing in front of some great stalwarts was the biggest win. As a judge, it is extremely tough. There is so much of exposure for the child -pressure from public (voting), their choices in clothes and presence, the kids are losing their naivety. I feel there is a sense of nervousness being a judge because I am always worried that the external media will pollute their innocence. I feel for that moment. That’s where I think parents have a bigger role to play. They need to handle it right for the kids.

  • rom Ilayaraja to AR Rahman – two extremely different styles. What was your preference?

    It depends on the way you look at music. I enjoy both styles. Ilayaraja sir’s process is different. He composes songs very differently. He would be in his room on a harmonium which is the main melody. He always speaks about what’s going to be in the baseline. His thought process is linear and all connected together. I would easily compare him to the Mozart and Beethoven kind of work. His mind thinks of something and there in one go, he gets it all. Complete genius. To be able to execute his thought process is sheer joy to me. They are such beautiful moments in my career. Now I begin to relate when he says “sing what’s taught to you”. Rahman sir is the extreme. His technique is creatively very satisfying. He lets the singer inside his thought process and allows the singer to contribute to the blooming of the song. You wouldn’t know which direction his mind would go. For the song Barso Re Megha from Guru, I sang 300 variations. Finally, a few variations were fit into one song. A genius when it comes to sound design apart from composition. Their magic in totality has inspired several composers. Every moment I spend with them, I come out learning more with joy.

  • How do you sing with such good diction in so many languages?

    When I started singing for regional films, I used to learn the meaning of every word. Soon, I felt that I am not going to remember all the words. I began to realize that the composition in itself is an emotion. Ilayaraja sir constantly says “sing what’s taught to you”. Nothing more. Nothing less. I used to wonder what he meant by that. As a singer when I hear some songs, the song composition itself is doing its job. I write everything in Hindi. I need to have my pen and paper. When we talk about the song, we make notes on the nuances of the language and expression. There are various styles and I remember in Tamil I had to sing a song in the film “Virumandi” called Onnavida with Kamal sir. That was pretty challenging to sing in a colloquial dialect. Composition helps enunciate those accents.

  • How were your childhood days and how you got exposed to the world of music?

    My childhood was typical. Studies were one of the most important things, but music came to me very early. I was around four when I started learning music from my mother. My mom was a good singer. Dad wasn’t a singer, but was very fond of music, and a hardcore supporter of my music. Our household was the prime center for all kind of cultural activity such as rehearsals of music programs, and so, I grew up in that hungama. Music was around me all the time. The basics I learned from classical Hindustani music. We found a music teacher in our school who used to teach Rajasthani folk music . Later, I studied under Mahesh Chandra Sharmaji, who was in Kota, which was around 60 kilometers from my town. I used to go very regularly to him to learn music – thanks to mom and dad  to Kota. My parents were always very supportive. I was too young to understand it at that time, but they were actually taking me everywhere to pursue my interest. And this is how the interest grew and it became quite intense. Then Sa Re Ga Mahappened, which is when I met Kalyanji uncle. He was very impressed and told my dad that I had some special gift. This encouraged my dad to shift to Bombay when I was 13. And there on, I worked a little on Marathi, Bengali albums and jingles. I did my first film at the age of 16, which was Devdas and it has been ten years now.

  • Who do you credit as the biggest influence for your outstanding success in your music career?

    The most important person in my life who has given every bit of his energy towards making this happen is my dad. He is always there to guide me. He will never impose on me, but will very subtly guide me through. His life is completely dedicated to my work. Apart from that, there are so many people… prominent people such as Kalyanji uncle; my gurus: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who gave my first film; composer M. M. Kreem, who believed I could do commercial songs (unlike the classical ones of Devdas); A.R. Rahman, who, in recent years, has given me a lot of interesting work. There is also my mom, who constantly makes sure that I am comfortable and nothing harms me – that constant motherly care. When I was doing music and studying…once you start believing in yourself and doing something different, you are called an idiot – you know, the 3 Idiots syndrome. But there were some friends who were always supportive. I am very thankful to them.

  • Which composers do you really enjoy making music with?

    I really enjoy working with Rahman Sir because he lets you do a lot of things. He inspires you in a way that you will not even realize that he made you sing that bit – he inspired you into it, giving the right chords and the atmosphere and the time. And the zone he creates – there is always a candle burning in his studio. I just love recording in his studio. At the same time M.M. Kreem Sir, and Shantanu Moitra, with whom I have done a lot of songs with . He is one friend I have in the industry. I really can talk crap with him. He makes me very comfortable. [Moitra] understands that music is not a joband believes you have to get into the zone. So, we are very chilled out. We watch documentaries, we talk about lots of things, and in all of that, we don’t even realize when the song is done recording.

  • Who are your all time favourite singers?

  • You have performed at several foreign and international tours and concerts and also in India… What is the best part about performing live on the stage?

  • You have some of your mesmerising renditions in Sanjay Leela Bhanshali’s films… How he executes to bring the best from inside you and how he shaped you as a true artist?

  • What is your tip to the upcoming singers or to those who want to make singing as their career?

    No tip. Respect music and the love for art. We create music which touches the heart and it stays and becomes a part of history. All I say is don’t stop learning music and never be complacent in life. Just follow your passion. This is what I have learnt from my seniors.

  • Many of your contemporaries are trying their hand at acting. Have you ever considered it?

    I'm happy if someone gets a sense of satisfaction from acting. Mujh mein woh keeda nahi hai. I am not ready for acting. But again, never say never. If something falls in place, then I could give it a shot. There have been people who have come up with interesting concepts, but I've been shy about it and said no.

  • Apart from your busy schedule, how do you spend your free time?

  • How you feel when a lot of aspiring singers try to follow your singing style?

  • What were your thoughts when 26 June was declared as “Shreya Ghoshal Day” in Ohio, United States?

  • Which was the first film song you learned?

  • How was the journey of making your female playback debut in “Devdas?”

  • When you were pursuing music at the early stage of your life, who were the inspirational musical stalwarts that you looked up for?

  • What kinds of music do you listen to or have in your playlist?

  • You have been married to Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya who was your childhood friend. How were the feelings when he proposed you for marriage?

  • How old were you when you started singing for the very first time?

  • संगीत आपके जीवन के किस पड़ाव पर हुआ?

  • आपके बचपन के दिनों में संगीत के प्रति आपके जुनून के समर्थन में आपके माता-पिता की भूमिका कैसी थी?

  • What keeps you busy other than singing?

    Music, TV shows and more singing. When I am not recording I will be doing live shows or be home catching up on shows which I regularly follow. I also love watching the latest seasons of English shows. But there will always be some music around me. I love the idea of waking up to a song. It could be any song.

  • How do you manage to sing in regional languages without understanding the meaning?

    Yes, in the beginning I used to think understanding the lyrics is better to emote. But music director Illayaraja sir corrected me when I was singing for him. He said, ‘Go as the song goes. If you want to understand and emote as you sing, you will only spoil the flavour and kill the innocence of the musical experience for the listeners.

  • Have you become more selective with playback songs?

    I have never been selective. I have been fortunate that selective work has come on  my way right from the beginning of my musical  career. My composers have always given me songs that are made keeping my voice and skills in mind. And with every passing day, I am evolving as an artist and that has happened because of the faith of music directors in me to experiment more with my vocals.    

  • You’ve teamed up with your mentor, Sanjay Leela Bhansali once again in Bajirao Mastani. How was the experience?

    Sanjay Sir gave me my first break in Devdas and here I am, singing for Bajirao Mastani. His passion for cinema is still the same. When he teaches you the song, he gives references of veteran singers like Lataji (Mangeshkar). The track Deewani Mastani is a tribute to Mughal-e-Azam and he has also shot the song the way Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya was picturised. When I sang the track, I never knew it was going to be on such a huge scale.

  • You have a huge fan following for the Indian Diaspora in USA and Canada. How it feels to perform there?

  • What kind of preparations do you take before going for a concert?

  • Which you enjoy the most? Playback singing or concert?

  • Is there any particular concert that you still cherish of your musical journey?

  • Which veteran musician did you always dream of working with?

    I cannot work with people who are no longer with us and so it will always remain a dream. Artists from earlier eras like Madan Mohan sahab was gifted with putting a soul into the music he composed. Same was with Anand Bakishiji, Gulzar sahab and Sahir Ludhianvi sahab, wherein the first word and the first sentence itself is poetry as it came naturally to them. These are gifted people, who possess power and sensitivity. I feel that there is still a lot of talent around and we have the audiences to appreciate the same. However, what lacks is a platform to do express freely. Previously a lyricist, singer or composer did not have the pressure of creating a hit song. All that a person required to do was to create a song, but now the pressure is to make a blockbuster money-making track. Hence it becomes very hard for talented people to portray their art. Today Bollywood is compromising a lot on good content.

  • How have you evolved as a musician over the years?

    I have learnt a lot and matured over the years. I was a teenager when I sang my first track, and I was still training in music. I think Indian music is so welcoming of different genres that anyone who spends time in the industry, evolves. There is a lot of scope to stay versatile. I am glad that I’ve had the honour of working with so many talented artistes.

  • Tell us about your riyaaz schedule.

    I will be very honest with you. I was a very disciplined student of music in my early days and I would thank my parents for making me do so. I would travel long distances for learning music and my parents made sure that after coming from there, I would do my riyaaz. Even before going to school, my mother would wake me up at 6.30 am and I would do my riyaaz on a tanpura. No child would actually like doing their riyaaz so early, but that?s what built a strong foundation for me. Now I don't give that many hours for my riyaaz but I do light vocal exercises to warm up my voice. There are thing that I cannot do very well and I keep practicing them so as to improve. I don?t devote hours and hours for praticising ragas as I?m in the studio the whole day and I end up singing too much. All I need to do is keep my voice intact and get better at my execution than tiring my voice. I think that is how every professional singer functions when they get to a very hectic lifestyle.

  • How does your partner Shiladitya react to the fame and love that you get as a singer? Is he your best critic?

    He is my best friend and likes everything I do, which is why he cannot criticise me. I feel my best critics are my parents. My dad will only point put crucial problems in what I do. When it comes to Shiladitya, he has been my bestest buddy for ten years so we are each others? confidant and now that we are married, there is an additional level of responsibility for each other. However, he is exactly the kind of spirit that I would want to be. He is the one who will push me to do all the good things even when I doubt myself. He will just ask me to follow my heart and do what I wish to do and makes me believe in me. Even my parents make me believe in myself, I feel a little responsible in front of my parents. But with Shiladitya around I can do anything I want to.

  • While most senior singers suffered in terms of getting playback offers, you never ran out of work. Why?

    I think it all depends on the kinds of songs that are being made. I guess the songs that I’ve sung required me. I am fortunate to have stayed relevant. I try to grasp various genres to be part of the evolution process. Apart from Bollywood, there’s a lot of good music happening in other kinds of Indian cinema as well — be it the films made in the south or in Bengal. Since I am active there as well, I keep myself busy. You do not want to hear your voice in every song, as it gets monotonous. So, it’s important to have the right kind of balance.

  • What do you feel about the way Bollywood music has changed over the years?

    Whenever anyone is asked to respond to this question, they usually say, “Purane waqt ki baat nahin rahi (things are not how they used to be).” And I agree with that because there is lack of sincerity in music today. I feel that no effort is made to create something that is lifelong. Nobody wants to create a milestone anymore. Every song is just made to stay on the charts for a week or so. There are few soundtracks that stand out.

  • Why don’t we have more women music composers in India?

    I don’t know that myself. Being a composer is a very difficult thing. The process of getting one song approved takes so much time and energy. Bollywood is a male-dominated industry, and I think for a woman, it becomes a little difficult to handle so many people — producers, directors and even actors.

  • Have you ever received acting offers?

    Yes, I have been approached for many films. But I haven’t taken them up, as I have never been inclined towards acting. Also, I am very lazy (laughs); I can’t multitask.

  • Despite being a successful playback singer you’ve managed to maintain the girl next door image…

    I don’t believe in pretending to be someone else. I’m what I actually am in real life. For instance, like any normal girl, I fight with my mother. I mean, it is just fine. In fact, I fight daily with my mother. You know, how mothers are – both caring and complaining. Toh yeh sab har subah chalta hai. She scolds me if I don’t take care of my hair, or get a bit non-serious about my diet. There are occasions when she even draws a comparison between me and my friends. So statements like, ‘See how different your friend looks!’ are expected (laughs). I know she has a point when she says that; her concerns are genuine.

  • Do you feel technological innovation has negatively impacted the quality of music?