In this candid interview with indianexpress.com, singer Shilpa Rao, who recently sang the soulful song “Phir Kya Hai Gham” in Rani Mukerji starrer Hichki, opens up about Bollywood’s craze of remixing classics and children’s reality shows.
You have been around for ten years. How was your journey through these years?
I have worked with everybody in the industry. It feels great to work with everyone, in fact learn from everyone while working with them. The best part is that nobody tried to change me in any manner. I never wanted to change my voice in any manner. The industry has let me be myself. So, it is a huge thank you to the last ten years in the industry.
You are particularly known for trying new styles in your songs and singing for different genres. How easy or difficult is to remain ‘unique’ in this industry?
Well, it is difficult to do different things all the time. It is not an easy thing. I also put in an effort to put a song that is new for the audience all the time. So, it is pretty much a conscious effort to sound different, to try something new. I chose this life that every day is different, where every day is like a question mark and you have to kind of figure everything from the start. I like to do that, not only in music but also my life. I like trying a new cuisine or watching a movie. I like doing things differently.
How has the industry taken your music?
They have been very warm towards me. That’s why I have been around for so long. I have been fortunate to do things that challenge me and do something that is out of the normal. I like challenges that make me push myself. It is extremely stimulating.
Longevity of singers in Bollywood is short lived too. Some become famous overnight and then fizzle out. Your thoughts?
It is a common myth that once you get a break you’ll keep getting good work. That you do certain hit songs and then everything is hunky dory. It is not like that. Every day is a new day here. Listen to what is happening around. There are new productions, new vocals. Go for a concert. There is so much out there – jazz, funk, rock or whatever. It is important to keep yourself updated and to have an attitude to keep learning. Anybody who wants to make it and be there needs to work on their art, craft every day. There is no such thing that you have achieved it and that is it.
What is your say about the remix culture in Bollywood?
I think the songs were classics because they were originals some years ago. So, we need to make some originals so they can be classics too some years from now. So, I think we should put our energies into making original music.
Why did you choose to do “Phir Kya Hai Gham” in Rani Mukerji’s Hichki?
First of all, I had no idea what the song was for. Then we started jamming at her house. She has a lovely recording studio at her house. We started doing it and I just loved the spirit of the song to begin with. It is such a beautiful song. However, dejected you are, if you listen to this song in the morning, then you are up and about. That’s what the song does to you. Second time when we went to record the song, I came to know what the song is for and it made much more sense to me. I am really proud of the song and the way it is such a soulful film and how she (Rani Mukerji’s character Naina Mathur) is fighting for a cause. I loved the way everything is brought together in the film, and how one can draw inspiration out of it.
We recently had a controversy in children’s reality shows with Papon. What is your take on these shows?
On a day to day basis, we need to teach our boys and girls to know what good and bad touch is in their surroundings. And, how to be aware of themselves, and how nobody can even interact with them without their permission. There is a pressure with everything you do actually. I can’t say much because my brother and I had a very simple childhood. We went to school, came back home, played, and my father would play music, nothing beyond that. I don’t know the other side where you are at a place like this. But I hope parents and guardians who send their children for reality shows are more sensitive with the kids. It is a personal choice whether you want to send your child somewhere or not, but I really hope they look at this a little sensitively because it is the small child that you are talking about.