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Shreya Ghoshal: Today Bollywood is compromising a lot on good content

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Her fans address her by various names like ‘Selfie Queen,’ ‘Princess,’ ‘Songstress’ but the most common is ‘Queen of Melody.’ Shreya Ghoshal’s single post on social networking websites creates a hullabaloo. Fans flood her with praises and the songstress at times even replies to a few messages.

In this exclusive interview with Dhairya Ingle of Indiantelevision.com the singer talks about various aspects of her life including Rabindranath Tagore’s project, which is collaboration between her, Shaan, Shantanu Moitra and Gulzar.

Excerpts:

How has your journey as a musician been so far?

Quite exciting! Every day brings me something new and I think that is the beauty of being a musician. Especially in a country like ours where we are most of the time working for films. There is so much happening in this industry with so many languages, where different types of music comes together and co-exists. So it is wonderful being in the field of music, working with the seniors and new comers, learning new things everyday.

You have crooned a few songs for ‘Jaanisaar.’ How was it working with Muzaffar Ali? And how different is it to sing a classical song as compared to a regular Bollywood number?

I think there is a lot more freedom in this genre because if you hear the songs of ‘Jaanisar,’ each is a performance and there’s a constant need of improvisation. It is not something that can one can learn by heart and sing. Every line is different and there is a new expression that is required. Hailing from the era of mujra, every word has to be expressed, with the essence of pure classical music i.e. thumri, dadra, kajre.

So I had an amalgamation of ghazals and classical music, which gave me more freedom. I don’t get to do that in any of the other songs, though I still have scope to improvise but not as much. It is not a commercial song. The songs of ‘Jaanisar’ are for people who understand and follow Indian classical music. One of the biggest reasons I did my album ‘Humnasheen’ was pretty much to feel that experience.

Muzaffar sahab is a very revered man and I respect him a lot. His presence in the studio itself was very supportive and you know that he is there to appreciate the song and the art you possess. I give equal credits to Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan, who is the son of Salamat Ali Khan sahab. He is more of a singer composer and once he starts singing, you definitely get mesmerised and often get tongue tied.

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.

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.

Any non-film projects that you are currently working on?

Yes. I just got the mixes for Gulzar sahab’s project on Rabindranath Tagore. Shaan and I have sung songs for the project and the music is composed by Shantanu Moitra. The project is very special and will be releasing under Saregama. Tagore’s style of writing has been adapted by Gulzar sahab. It takes you to an era of Tagore but completely in a new fashion. It will release in a couple of months.

Which non-film song sung by you is your favorite?

It would be ‘Yeh Kya Hua Tere Mere Pyaar Ki Baatein,’ from the album ‘Chandni Raatein’ in 2004, which I did very long ago. This was the first time I was doing a Hindi album song and it was really loved by people then.

You sung Kishore Kumar’s old melody ‘Mere Mehboob.’ Do you wish to re-render any of the olden melodies? If yes, which one?

Actually the song ‘Mere Mehboob’ got stuck in my head and I was recording a new song but ‘Mere Mehboob’ did not go off. So I got back home, sat on my piano and recorded it on my phone. I put it up on my social media and people loved it. I keep my social media very private and have never given it to any agency like many others. I personally read each and every tweet that comes to me and I was so overwhelmed with the love.

When it comes to re-rendering any other tracks, I would say there are many. I love all Madan Mohan sahab and Lataji’s tracks. I would love to do the song ‘Jalte Hain Jiske Liye’ from the film ‘Sujata’ crooned by Talat Mehmood sahab.

Basically I love re-rendering tracks, which are sung by male voices because when you sing a female version of the same track, you reinterpret the whole track.

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.

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