Wednesday, May 12, 2010

From reality shows to playback stardom - Shreya's journey !

Shreya Ghoshal is all excited about 'Raavan' and talks to Shankaran Malini about music industry, her big inspirations and things that she likes.

Growing up with music

I spent about 13 years of my childhood in Rawatbhata, a small village near Kota, Rajasthan. It was a township, which was cut off from the urban city life. I used to travel 10 KM up and down to Kota to learn music. I learnt classical Hindustani there. In fact, one of my initial achievements was at this place. I was nine years old then. I didn’t get the opportunity to learn Carnatic music. Then 'Sa Re Ga Ma' gave me a lot of exposure. But my first big break was singing for 'Devdas'.

Inspiration from family

My mom is a housewife and my dad an engineer. We Bengalis simply love music. My mother has been my musical inspiration and even today I look up to her opinion — be it criticism or appreciation. I need her guidance forever. But my dad silently appreciates me and whatever I am today is because of him.

Reality shows — then and now?

When I won 'Sa Re Ga Ma', the platform didnt actually become a reality show. It wasn’t that big or commercial. There wasn’t an audience reaction like today. TV itself was not that big those days. Judges in such shows used to be big names from classical music such as Zakir Hussain, Girija Devi and the like. But now the format has changed a lot. People from all over the world watch these shows, therefore the reach is bigger. Audiences make heroes out of their singers. I believe that the scope for classical music still exists, which I realised when I was doing 'Music Ka Maha Muqabla'.

Your take on mobile auditions

It is yet another platform which is commercially beneficiary to audiences. I feel it’s a good move. And as we live in a fast paced world, innovation is the key to success. There was a time when audio cassettes were popular and then audio CDs took over. But now it is the age of Internet downloads and mobile downloads.

Your take on remixes

I haven’t done a remix song as yet although some songs of mine have been remixed. Honestly I liked the original versions better. I'm okay with doing a remix as long as it enhances the song. I feel music enthusiasts do a fantastic job with remixes.

Is the music industry’s still a man’s world?

I would not completely agree with it. It’s a phase. Currently, it is Sufi music that is the trend and that is a male-dominated area. But things will not be the same forever.

About being a versatile singer

All that I can say is I pay close attention to the music director and lyricist when the concept and situation of a song is being explained. I write down the lyrics in Devanagri marking all the places with required accents. I try my best to sing it as perfectly as possible. But there have been occasions when I have made mistakes and I read the reviews on the Internet. I only try to improve myself.

Current projects

My next in Tamil will be 'Endhiran' and 'I Hate Luv Stories' in Hindi.

Role Model

My role model has always been Lataji.

Music director you want to work with?

Harris Jeyaraj. I have sung for 'Anniyan', one of his projects. It so happened that whenever a possibility of a project would come up with him, it would not materialise owing to some reason or the other.

Would love to playback for?

Waheeda Rehman. How I wish I could sing for those B/W movies of hers.

AR Rahman

For me he has always been iconic and always full of surprises. It was for 'Enakku 20 Unakku 18' when I sang 'Azhagiya Askava'. That was my foray in Tamil. After that, it was only for 'Sillunu Oru Kadhal' that I sang 'Munbe Vaa', which went on to become a hit. Following that 'Vinnaithadi Varuvaya' and now 'Raavan'. He never repeats genres in his works and is the only music director whom I have seen working late till night. I have enjoyed working with him. I admire his patience. Thanks to him, I have experimented with so many genres.


I am in awe of the music, the singers and music directors of the city. That apart, whenever I am here, I visit Saravana Bhavan and eat idlis and chutneys from Murugan Idli Kadai. I love the Chettinadu cuisine here.

Rapid Fire:

Can’t live without: My phone, just switched loyalties with Blackberry

Most prized possession: It’s an old Harmonium that I first used when I started to learn music.

Favourite show: How I met Your Mother

Style statement: A pair of jeans and white shirt

Fitness mantra: Treadmill and cardio.

Love to dig into: Thai cuisine, followed by Bengali cuisine and Kongunadu

What are you humming at the moment:

'Jo Dil Mein Kushi', a Lataji and Hemant Kumar composition — my all-time favourite

Favourite book: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and The Unaccustomed Earth

Unforgettable lesson at school: It used to be the little quarrels during my school days. I was both the noisemaker and the newsmaker

Your biggest fear: Music should never become a burden

Favourite singers: P Susheela and S Janaki

Lyricists : Gen X lyricists are doing a great job

If not a playback singer: I'd have become a scientist


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