Pawni Pandey’s musical journey started at a young age when she participated as a contestant in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs where she was one of the finalists. She went on to participate in Indian Idol. Last year, she was a part of the grand jury for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs, where she had begun her journey as a professional singer.
The young singer was lauded for “Laila Main Laila” from Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees and then “Sahiba” in Anushka Sharma starrer Phillauri. She recently also sang “Bewafa Beauty” in Blackmail.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Pawni Pandey opens up about reality shows for children in India, recreating original classics, and her journey as a Bollywood singer.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. You shot to fame mainly after singing “Laila Main Laila” in Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees. But your first break was in Salman Khan’s Bodyguard. Tell us about your decade-long journey as a Bollywood singer.
I was waiting for a hit song for a long time. I actually started my career in 2010. I sang in Bodyguard, Welcome Back, Gulab Gang and so many other films, but definitely, I was waiting for that one or two songs with which I could make my mark in the industry. And I think “Laila” from Raees and “Sahiba” from Phillauri have been the songs for me, which have helped me a lot. They went on to become such remarkable songs in my career that it turned my life around. I am very thankful for the opportunity. It was well worth the long wait.
Q. With “Laila”, the whole debate of remixes started. What is your take on recreating original classics?
See, I have always liked and enjoyed remixes. But I also have maintained my stand that I do agree that the original songs have survived because of their originality and it is impossible to recreate them. How much ever you try, you can’t compete with the original song. But we can manage to recreate it in a right way by giving it our essence to it, by adding some value to it, adding our own touch. But if we are going to recreate old melodies tastefully, then why not!
Q. It is a very competitive time for singers in Bollywood today. How do you plan to stand out and go on for longer?
I have been someone who has never tried to be competitive. I would instead maintain my skill and give my best to every song I do. There are many singers out there today because of many reality shows, talent hunts and social media reach. Through social media, talent can reach out to the world so quickly. So, of course, it gets difficult to do justice to every singer, and maybe that’s how the shelf life of singers have become short too. It has to do nothing with their talent, they all are talented and unique in their own way.
For me, it’s very simple. I give my best to every opportunity I get and I keep learning. I am still learning. I have been learning Indian Classical music for about ten years now. I did a vocal dynamics training from California. I also learned Indian light music and now I am also learning Western classical. I believe that practice can never stop if we want to become better at what we do.
Q. You started off when you were very young via a singing reality TV show. Tell us how safe kids are on these shows, especially after the Papon controversy?
First of all, I was on a reality show more than a decade ago, so the way these shows were conceptualised and executed then, it was very different from how they are now. As with time things definitely change. And today there are so many singing reality shows that I believe the overall safety and growth a child is more important than anything else. But it’s mainly a child’s parents’ responsibility to ensure their kids understand the importance of being on such shows but not at the cost of their safety. Judges are there to only sharpen their skills to enhance their talent and guide them in those areas.
Watch Pawni Pandey perform on singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
Today there are so many kids in these competitions. There are so many of these competitions around the year. So, it is essential for parents to make their kids understand the value of the opportunity they are getting. The importance of training that they need to undergo, as well as they need to make sure that the kids know that there is more to life than just the competition. They should make the kids realise that their career doesn’t end with these shows, and they have a long way to go, and to do well. Singing reality shows are just a stepping stone for the child.
Coming to the controversy surrounding Papon sir, to be honest, I wasn’t here when the debate started. But when I heard of it, I couldn’t believe it because he is known to be a kind-hearted and sweet person. He has been controversy-free all these years. It might be a misunderstanding and I am sure his intention was not to trouble the child. I feel we should not give it so much of importance as misconceptions happen all the time.