CNN-IBN’s special show To Catch a Star featured one of the most talented and versatile singers of the day: Shreya Ghoshal.
Only in her twenties, a National Award winner, Shreya has sung soulful ballads in Devdas to hip-shaker songs in Om Shanti Om. She has managed to do so much and what is praiseworthy is that she has done it so soon. The musical talent of the country, Shreya Ghoshal gets chatty with Rajeev Masand.
Rajeev Masand: Congratulations. You have just won a Star Screen Award for a lovely song in Mani Ratnam’s Guru under the baton of AR Rahman. What is interesting is that it is a song that is filmed on Aishwarya Rai. It’s a full circle. You entered movies with songs in an Aishwarya Rai starrer Devdas. You were the voice for Aishwarya in Devdas and recently it was Guru. It is a full circle. Isn’t it?
Shreya Ghoshal: Yes truly. She is one actress with whom whatever I have sung has become popular. People associate my voice with her face. It is great. I feel very happy.
Rajeev Masand:: Barso Re with Rahman. What was the experience like? It was not the first time you were working with AR Rahman, but it was the first time you were working with him in Hindi.
Shreya Ghoshal: Sure. I have worked with him in Tamil and Telgu lot of times. Every time I would get a call from him that come to Chennai and sing, I would hope that it would be in Hindi and finally Guru happened and I am glad that it was such a great song and it was the best song of the year 2007. I am very happy.
Rajeev Masand: 2007 was really a good year. There was Guru, there was Om Shanti Om, Saawariya, Cheeni Kum with Ilaiya Raja and Jab We Met with Pritam. It was a mixed bag. What was your favourite song from what you did in 2007?
Shreya Ghoshal: It is very difficult to pick one. I am so glad that 2007 had songs from every genre and all the music directors stepped out and experimented with something else. They also experimented with different genres. I also got to do the same. I was really happy because I had a very nice Thumri in Khoya Khoya Chaand. I had a song, which was almost in lines of pop in Jab We Met. Cheeni Kum was a little close to my heart because it was Raja sir and he is really my favourite.
Rajeev Masand: You are not giving me your best. I’ll tell you my favourite song in 2007. It was from OSO. It’s a song called Dhoom Tana. I like this song because it has this energy to it. There is this sort of old fashioned filminess to it. Was it as much fun recording that song as it was for us to watch it and listen to it?
Shreya Ghoshal: There is every element of seventies in it. That is so difficult. More than me singing it was fun to watch the arrangements happening. Vishal Shekhar did a fantastic job, knowing that it was not exactly their kind of job. It had a typical Jeetendra and Sridevi type to it, especially the badminton scene. Everything in the song, including the cabaret was fun. It was indeed fun to record the song.
Rajeev Masand: You have sung a couple of songs with Sunidhi Chauhan. You are both leading playback singers of your time. Are you both friends or are you rivals?
Shreya Ghoshal: Friends of course. It is so unfair to have that feeling that contemporary singers have to be rivals. They are not. Of course we are not friends like we are hanging out but there is this professionalism. When we are in the studios, we chat and talk. I respect her as an artist and she does too.
Rajeev Masand: Most singers, including Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle say they like to know which actor they are singing for. They like to modulate their voice to suit those actresses. In one of your interviews, you said, it is not so important for you to know who the actress is, because you are keen on knowing the character you are singing for than the actress really. Is that true?
Shreya Ghoshal: I do think so. So many times, there are new actresses and so many times I don’t know the way they talk. I think earlier the actors had a certain style, for example, Rajesh Khanna, who had his own style of acting. However, today actors are adapting to all kinds of roles and characters. They are not the actors so to say, they are becoming the character. So I need to know what I am playing because I also am an actor when I am singing.
Rajeev Masand: You have sung with so many of your seniors. Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sadhna Sargam, Udit Narayan and even Sonu Nigam. Have they always been welcoming? As you were this little girl who came in front of them and has really come up. Have they always been encouraging?
Shreya Ghoshal: Most of them have been encouraging, like Kavita ji was really sweet. I was in awe of her because I have heard her songs. I think she is this queen of expressions and I have learnt so much from her. I know Sadhna ji since my classes with Kalyaan ji and Anand ji. She was almost like my sister.
Rajeev Masand: One of the persons you had a lovely professional association with is Sonu Nigam. Sonu was of course the host of the talent show you were discovered in many years ago and now you sing with him professionally. What was it like, when you sung with him for the first time? What went through your mind singing with someone who saw you as a child?
Shreya Ghoshal: Yes. He has been an extra ordinary singer and he has seen me in those frock dresses. And he has seen me through my journey as a singer. I sing maximum songs with him. It has been a pleasure and also that he is one singer who keeps growing. He has this hunger for better songs and it is amazing to have such a co-singer.
The rapid fire round
Rajeev Masand: Name one song by another singer that you wish you had sung?
Shreya Ghoshal: Sorry, I did not think of this! Okay, there is this song called Kabhi Neem Neem. Madhushree has sung it so beautifully. I am just saying that I love that song, so I would have love to sung it.
Rajeev Masand: One song of your own that you cant bear to listen to?
Shreya Ghoshal: Dola Re Dola. I am so sorry. I have sung that song so many times and in all my shows I have to sing it so many times.
Rajeev Masand: It is not because you hated it, but because it is overdone.
Rajeev Masand: One international artist you would like to sing with?
Shreya Ghoshal: Oh I would love to collaborate with Norah Jones if possible. I love her music and the genre she has taken up.
Rajeev Masand: One actress you would like to lend your voice to?
Shreya Ghoshal: I would have loved to sing for Wahida Rehman for Guru Dutt films. She’s magical.
Rajeev Masand: Name one actress for whom your voice may not suit?
Shreya Ghoshal: My voice may not suit Rekha ji. She is very sexy.
Rajeev Masand: And you don’t think your voice is?
Shreya Ghoshal: I am just okay.
Rajeev Masand: One composer you would not want to be left alone in a music room with?
Shreya Ghoshal: You said there will be no controversial questions. On a lighter note, if I am left alone with Shantanu Moitra, it will be a problem for the industry because there will be no work done. We chat, we watch documentaries, we listen to music and we are so lazy to work. And we don’t do the song that was supposed to be done.
Rajeev Masand: Which film has better music, Saawariya or Om Shanti Om?
Shreya Ghoshal: Saawariya. That is one album I can listen to all my life.
Rajeev Masand: One composer or singer, you can never charge for singing?
Shreya Ghoshal: I think I have charged money from him. But if at all problem comes, then I will not charge any money from Raja sir. He’s the best.
Rajeev Masand: One song you turned down which became a big hit?
Shreya Ghoshal: No I don’t take risks of turning down songs, because I know they can be hits.
Rajeev Masand: So you pretty much sung whatever came to you?
Rajeev Masand: One song of yours, whose picturisation you were embarrassed by?
Shreya Ghoshal: I have done a lot of Bhojpuri songs. And sometimes its sort of embarassing. I don’t really remember the songs, but a couple of them are embarrassing. When it comes on Television, I am like…oh I did this and when? Okay is it me?
Rajeev Masand: Taking from where we left the rapid fire, about picturisation of your songs. You were really young when Jism came out. You sang most of the songs in them and we all know it was slightly an adult raunchy film. Were you allowed to see that film?
Shreya Ghoshal: I had already turned 18 by then...
Rajeev Masand: So you were allowed to watch it.
Shreya Ghoshal: I have my driving license...
Rajeev Masand: They were beautiful songs and were picturised beautifully.
Shreya Ghoshal: Yes true. Every scene was so sensuous but it was so elegant that it was not like…oh what am I watching? While doing the song I was quite confused as to how to emote a sexy song like this. I had done only Devdas by then and I was given the song and told to make it sensuous. I was imagining and taking help from Sridevi’s Kaante Nai Kat Tey but nothing really helped and I sung it simply. In fact Bipasha did a wonderful job in it.
Rajeev Masand: Very humble of you to say that.
Visuals of the song Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai play
Shreya Ghoshal: A little embarrassing.
Rajeev Masand: Let me end by asking you about a role model of yours. Lata Mangeshkar! You really grew up admiring her and listening to her songs as a young girl. She has returned those compliments and said that you are one of the finest young singers in the business today. What is your favourite Lata Mangeshkar song? And we would request you to sing that song.
Rajeev Masand:: Fair question?
Shreya Ghoshal:: It is an unfair question. How can I pick one song from an ocean of songs? But yes, very interestingly when I was leaving from home, my mother said if you are asked to sing, sing a Lata Mangeshkar song.
Shreya Ghoshal: (Sings: Jaane Kyon Log Mohabbat Kiya Kartey Hain)
Rajeev Masand: Perfect note to end on.