Back in the 1990s when the pop scene in India was still very nascent, one of the names out of the handful that stood out was Shibani Kashyap’s. This Delhi girl made a splash with her debut album Ho Gayi Hai Mohabbat in 1998. We remember her svelte self featured in the video of the title track — as a model who falls in love with a blind boy, played by co-singer Aslam. It became a raging hit, playing 24/7 on TVs, in autorickshaws and on teenagers’ boomboxes all over the country .
Nine years, three albums and five film scores later, the singer-performer-composer is planning to release another album. Yet, the reality check is that the 32-year-old is now only a fading face in the public consciousness. We ask her if that bothers her.
Why do we hear you less often than we should?
I’m more into travelling and performing live now. I didn’t want to become just another playback voice. In the last couple of months, things have started getting better. I have my hands full with films such as Woodstock Villa, Sunday and Come December.
I’m also on the verge of completing my next album. I’m composing the music and I’ll have different singers singing on the album besides me. Bappi Lahiri is one. It should release by September.
Why such a big break after Zinda?
Actually I’ve been getting a lot of work after I , was nominated for a magazine’s Best Debutante Music Composer Award. People started recognising me as a singer-composer. Other wise, for some bizarre reason, everyone used to think I was only the voice behind the face.
I remember, after Sajana aa bhi jaa, some thought I was only a model who’d featured in that song. No one really accepted the fact that I’m also a singer.
But I didn’t get bogged down by the initial rejection. I’ve settled well into the framework now after almost eight years of struggle. I can at least claim that I’m a self-made woman.
You wanted to sing for Rani Mukherji?
Yes. I want to. We both have a husky voice but that doesn’t mean I cannot sing for other actresses.
Why do you think it’s harder for female composers to survive?
I think it is a mindset. When they hear a woman sing, they accept that but when they’re told that the same woman has also composed the song, they raise an eyebrow. Trust me, I’m enjoying being the only female composer in the music industry today The adulation and attention are greater.
How has your unconventional voice affected your career?
Only positively I agree I don’t have a conventional high-pitched voice. But my voice has a huge throw. People don’t want the typical voice all the time.
In retrospect, what went wrong with your career?
I agree I’ve not been too prolific but nothing’s gone wrong with my career. I wanted it to be like this. You’re young only once in your lifetime. I’ve chosen to enjoy my life to the full.
I travel, do stage shows, sing and compose. I think over-exposure kills. I don’t want 50,000 songs. I’m happy with what I have.
I’m planning to open a state-of-the-art music academy by next year. The curriculum of my academy will focus on grooming singers to face the industry .