Shilpa Rao in a free-spinning chat with Nikhil Taneja...
How long has it been in Mumbai now?
(Smiles) It’s been five years since I moved here from Jamshedpur. I am what I am because of Mumbai. I joined college here and recorded jingles. Two years ago, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy offered me Saiyaan re in Salaam-E-Ishq. And last year, Khuda jaane (Bachna Ae Haseeno) happened with Vishal-Shekhar.
Shankar Mahadevan advised you to shift to Mumbai, right?
I was in school then. I was at the all-India finals of a song competition in Delhi, where Shankar was a judge. I bumped into him again in Hyderabad at a show and he liked my performance again. That's when he advised me to shift to Bombay. I had no idea how easy or difficult it would be.. he helped me get a bunch of jingles right away.
Why did it take three years to land a film song?
Because the song had to be right. Saiyaan re was and it worked.
Apart from your songs in Anwar and The Train, the ones in small-budget movies didn’t get much recognition. I just take on one song at a time. It’s important to do a good job at the recording studio.. the budget of a film doesn’t matter.
Big budget movies promote the songs.. so you get more recognition.
That’s true in a way.. but I’m still completely driven by the song. Mithoon’s Tose naina lage re was such a beautiful song, that even though the promotions of Anwar were on the lower side, it made an impact. Replays on the radio took it to another level.
You work with several new music composers.
(Smiles) Yeah.. and they are doing a great job. Each one of them has brought in a new sound. I worked with a friend, Amit Trivedi, in Aamir and have sung for another friend, Bobo who is composing for UTV’s Aage se Right. I’ve also worked with Gaurav Dayal for Onir’s next Kill Chhabra.
Which song are you pumped up about right now?
Dhol from Dev D.. which has a rustic vibe. Amit and I recorded the song more than two years ago.. before Saiyaan re happened. In fact, Anurag Kashyap gave the music of Dev D to him after he heard Dhol. Amit and I keep planning on doing funkier stuff. See, the song is the most important person here.. the singer, lyricist, everyone comes later.
Okay, big things have been predicted for you in 2009. Is a private album happening?
(Glows) It’s a really great feeling that people have so many expectations from me. But I don’t want to record a private album for the sake of it. Whenever I have a thought that I really want to express, then I’ll release an album.