In a journey spanning over 15 years, she has hits like ‘Kabhi neem neem’ (Yuva; 2004), ‘Hum hain is pal yahaan’ (Kisna: The Warrior Poet; 2005), ‘Tu bin bataaye’ (Rang De Basanti; 2006) and ‘Ay sakhi’ (Raanjhanaa; 2013) to her credit. Madhushree, who has worked extensively with AR Rahman, is “thankful to him” for giving her the freedom to explore herself as a musician. She has sung two songs in Sanjay Dutt’s upcoming film. In an interview, she talks about Javed Akhtar, who helped her enter the industry, her journey, why she has limited discography, and more.
How do you look back at your journey in Bollywood?
It’s been scary and successful. Scary, because I have taken steps that were daring and unpredictable.
You have spent 15 years in the industry, but have only sung limited number of songs in Bollywood films. Have you been selective?
No, I have not been selective. People in the industry tend to categorise you. ‘Kabhi neem neem’ is a beautiful composition by AR Rahman, which is difficult to sing. Also, ‘Tu bin bataye’ is a simple tune. But, somehow people in the industry call me for songs with classical base. I am glad that film industries in the south have explored my voice in different styles.
Javed Akhtar apparently recommended you for your Bollywood debut…
If he wouldn’t have done that, maybe I wouldn’t have become Madhushree from Sujata Bhattacharya (this was her name earlier, when she wasn’t a singer). I am grateful to Javed saab for his contribution.
You have had hit musical associations with AR Rahman. How has your collaboration with him been?
AR Rahman has made me sing all styles of songs. From ‘Naina milayke’ (Saathiya; 2002), which is a thumri, to ghazals for Tehzeeb (2003). ‘Kabhi neem neem’ has contributed a lot to my career. He also made me sing item songs in Blue (2009), Sivaji (2007) and Robot (2010). Most of the songs that I have sung have been with him. He always gave me a lot of freedom to explore myself as a singer.