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Preview: Aap Ka Suroor

July 2006
Preview: Aap Ka Suroor

Following are excerpts from live telephone interviews with these movers and shakers:

From "Sa Re Ga Ma" to "Kajra Re"

Here's a show that puts together an ensemble of current hotties from India's small screen as well as the silver screen. Khabar talks to the current billboards topper composer and singer Himesh Reshammiya, veteran Indi-Pop Diva Alisha Chinoy (Kajra Re fame), Vineet (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa fame), Abhijeet Sawant (the 2005 Indian Idol) and sultry actress (Udita Goswami Paap, Zeher and Aksar fame). Following are snippets from the phone interviews:

From the heart with Himesh Reshammiya

Who has been your musical mentor?

Definitely, only my daddy. I have heard lot of music from great composers all over the world, but my dad has been the backbone of my success. I have learnt music from him. And Goddess Saraswati because there is a major divine intervention in my music and because of which I have been able to do such inhuman work. I am composing three songs a day and have a stock of 1000 songs in my bank of compositions. So there is some divine force which is helping me. I have been able to do some brilliant stuff. Creatively, I am trying to better myself everyday and this is only possible if God is by my side.

In terms of your show in Atlanta, the promos feature you coming down in a helicopter with a Doberman. Tell us a little more about that?

My videos are directed by my friend and brother, Prashant Chaddha, a brilliant technician who has designed my look. All my videos are conceptually very strong. Similarly, my show, which will be a light concert, will be a unique experience for the audience because there will be a direct, one-to-one connection with the audience. I would love to connect with them, because, as you must have realized, in all my songs, I sing straight from the heart. In the same way, a concert may not be as perfect as a recording, in fact, it may be even better. The concert will not be mechanical; it will be unplugged, rocking, and straight from the heart! There will be an emotional journey for everyone who attends the concert, because the theme of the concert is ‘the true journey of a true lover".

Everyone, everywhere, has been in love, genuinely, at least once. I would definitely see to it that they experience that moment of emotion when they attend my concert.

What raga inspires you the most?

Aahir Bhairav (he says without a shred of doubt). There is a haunting feel to it and it appeals to me the most.

Most of your music seems to be more fusion, in the sense you do use pure ragas, but you do use metronome and a lot of rhythm boxes?

It is not usually pure ragas that I use. I do this so that my music is very different and also absolutely simplifies it for the common man.

Is there any message for your fans in Atlanta?

Just that I am looking forward to meeting them all and I will try my level best to connect with them, not only with my music, but also on a one-to-one emotional level. God bless you all.

- Interviewed by VIREN MAYANI


Being unpredictable with Alisha

Having recently won the IIFA award in Dubai, how do you, a veteran in the pop music industry, still get the youngsters up and grooving?

The secret of my success is staying young and childlike at heart (she says, adding that been waiting to talk to America and is really excited to be coming to Atlanta). And if I do that, keep the child in me alive, everyone from 5 to 15 will love me.

In your case, it's the whole package, not just the voice that takes the credit. You've got the looks, the talent, and the music – how are you able to keep it all together and still focus on the music, singing in particular?

Well, I guess, it's something I've grown up with, something that's my forte. And I've been blessed with a lot of good luck, apart from how I look and the other attributes you've mentioned, I've been blessed with two mega anthems in my singing career– Made In India (1997) and recently, with Kajra Re (from the Bollywood hit Bunty Aur Bubli) it's like d�j� vu. With it I've completely crossed over, again. I know people who don't even understand Hindi and love Kajra Re. Like they did with Made In India.

Ultimately, it's just good music and singing it with the right emotion and then it's magic. You can't explain it.

When you started your career in Indi-pop, a genre that existed only marginally, you took people by surprise and they started really enjoying your brand of music. Tell me a little about your earlier influences. How did you venture into Indi-pop?

I was signed to a record company at that time and of course, I was dying to work with Biddu, who had such international hits like Kung Fu Fighting and all the Tina Charles songs. And one fine day, they said, ‘we are doing this song on this whole album and would you be interested". The next thing I knew I was in London recording. In three weeks I recorded my album, from start to finish. Little did I know it was going to become such a phenomenon.

What inspired you to get into the arena of music?

Right from childhood, I was interested. Both my parents were very interested in music. My dad was a classical singer and so the influence was always there. I grew up listening to a lot of Lata Mangeshkar, Ashaji (Bhosle) as well as a lot of Western music. I think both these influences helped to create my own style.

Did you go through rigorous formal training?

Well, I did, but not too much because when you do pop music you can't get too classical and too heavy into training. I preferred to be a little bit raw and untouched.

Of all the current composers, who do you enjoy working most with, not so much from a personal standpoint, but from a creative one?

Boy, that's a tough one. My favorites are definitely Shanker, Ehsaan and Loy. They have been able to rearrange my complete singing style, which was amazing and no one has ever had the vision to do. They've taken me beyond my limitations. Their confidence and pushing made me free to sing Kajra Re, which is again a complete departure from my usual pop music. Of course there's Anu Mallik, with his truly, pop, Bollywood style. He knows how to bring my voice up really high, without it cracking. And from amongst the other new ones, Vishal Shekhar is very good. And Himesh (Reshammiya) of course, is incorrigible. He has is own unique style, although I haven't sung with him too much.

What can your fans in Atlanta expect from you in the show?

I am unpredictable (laughs). I would just say don't expect anything, because when you don't expect anything, you get plenty! They are in for a big surprise.

- Interviewed by VIREN MAYANI


A musical interlude with Vineet

Before Sa Re? did you know you would one day become a hit singer? In other words, had you thought of following singing as a career?

I didn't know I would ever become a hit singer, but I was determined and had faith that I would. I knew if I worked hard, one day it would bear fruit. But I never thought I would get the opportunity to reach this level this quickly. But now that I have arrived here, I am very happy.

Your father being a singer, did your receive any formal training in music?

No, I have never taken any formal training. My papa used to sing. When he sang I would listen and learn from him. He used to teach me old Hindi songs. Further, listening to Rafi saheb's (referring to legendary singer Mohammed Rafi) cassettes I learnt a lot.

Who do you consider as your musical mentor?

My guru, my mentor is Himeshji (referring to music director Himesh Reshammiya). He is the one person who taught me kafi kuch (a lot) and supports me like a guru. He's teaching me the style and attitude of today's filmi songs. He's my real guru.

You made Indian cricketer Kapil Dev cry during your rendition of Sandese Aate Hain, how did that feel?

It was Himeshji's choice. I wanted to sing something else. Finally, what he was hoping for happened. People were moved emotionally by that song. That was my favorite performance.

There were a lot of rumors, especially of rivalries and petty squabbles amongst contestants flying around during the contest, any truth to them?

Aisa kuch nahin tha (There was nothing like that). The problem was that we (all the contestants) were working so hard, and even after doing our best, performing well, if one contestant got so much regional support, whether he sang well or not, that was what felt sad. In all of India I would get the most votes, but one region, Assam would generate so many votes that one would lose confidence and that would make me feel sad. Other than that I had no personal tensions with anyone. I wasn't jealous of anyone.

Do you just want to be a playback singer or become an independent recording artist?

From childhood I have always wanted to be a playback singer. And now that I have sung playback for so many movies, I won't move from there. I will make my image in playback singing. Shows we have to do. If we don't do shows, the image that we have created in the public starts to fade. People start to forget. So shows are necessary.

Being so young, how do you handle all your popularity?

You have to. It slowly happens. The more popular you get the more mature you have to be. I think I have become mature.

Do you have one dream uppermost on your list that you want to accomplish?

My biggest dream is to become such a singer in the Indian musical industry, whose name draws tarife (praise) from those who hear it. My other dream is to provide a comfortable life for my family in Mumbai.

Where does college fit into your world of music?

During the contest, I dropped out of school. Now I have enrolled again and will be appearing for the 12th Standard Board exams shortly.

- Interviewed by ANU GHOSH BHARUCHA


Hitting the right note with Abhijeet Sawant

You applied for the contest on a whim, thinking you wouldn't get selected, so what was your first thought when you made Indian Idol?

When the crown was declared, I was very happy. All the hard work, struggle, and tensions of the last six months, had ended positively. But with the crown has obviously come the responsibility to do better work each and every time and bring better music before the people.

Amit Sana was your closest competitor, were there any petty rivalries behind the scenes?

All of us contestants shared a great relationship amongst each other. We were like a family. There were no fights between us. Whatever little tension existed was during song selection, which was the crucial part of the contest. Because a song I want to sing and liked, someone else may like and want to sing. But I think at this juncture, we all showed a lot of understanding between us. Amit and I are still very good friends. We go out together and party.

Whom do you attribute your success to?

I have two inspirations, who have supported me and because of whom I have achieved this success. One is my uncle Chandra Sawant, he's also a singer and is very popular and the other is my guruji, Bhavjeet

Who is your musical idol?

Sonu Nigam (he says without hesitation). I love him.

What is the one thing that you miss after becoming rich and famous?

In Mumbai, we have a place called Shivaji Park, which is a hangout for young people. I can't go and hang out there with my friends. We can't freely walk on the streets.

What is your message to your fans?

All I want to say is that I hope that the public like my performance. And just as they are waiting for me, I am waiting for them, to see how they react to me and my performance. Hopefully, they will like my show and have a lot of fun.

- Interviewed by ANU GHOSH BHARUCHA


Getting cozy with Udita

What kind of actress would you classify yourself to be?

I don't know. I am still trying to find myself.

How do you handle your "sex symbol" status?

I don't think along those lines at all. What is the big deal about being sexy? I don't think it's important to me. I am getting good work, I am doing good work and I don't think I need to bother about all these things.

Is it difficult for you to do intimate scenes in front of the camera?

Personally, I am extremely uncomfortable. It's still a joke on the sets that the first kissing scene I had to do with Emraan in Zeher, I actually made him look like Shakti Kapoor. My head was moving from one direction to the other, because I was just not letting him kiss me. That take made him look like he was guy trying to rape me and I was trying to run away. The unit people still laugh when they talk about it. It was so funny.

What is your ideal role?

Earlier, I used to say Umrao Jaan or Pakeezah, because I want to do a role that's all about talking through your eyes. It's all about expressions. But there are two remakes being made on Umrao Jaan already, so I have stopped saying it. I don't say there's any dream role anymore.

Will you plan to do art films?

I don't mind. I would definitely like to do some. I know one thing for a fact that I don't look like a commercial Bollywood heroine. I look different from them. I would want to do different roles that would go with my looks, because I know for a fact that to play a role like Rani Mukherjee does in Yuva – this sweet, Indian woman, married to someone from a lower middleclass family. I cannot look that way. I look glamorous. So I need to do roles that go well with the image that I have or the kind of face that I have.

- Interviewed by ANU GHOSH BHARUCHA

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