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'My style is my strength'

Penaz's individual style has become her identifiable feature in a male dominated bastion.

music Updated: Mar 10, 2004 12:43 IST

Her style had come in for a lot of flak initially. But Penaz Masani has been the first popular ghazal singer whose hip appearance may have taken people by surprise but once she performs live on stage, she is in total control - be it for her strong Hindustani classical background, her impeccably perfect Urdu diction or the ease with which she interprets any poet's deep rooted meaningful couplets. In a genre dominated by male performers, Masani rules, and strikes an instant rapport with the young or the old alike.


What is it that keeps you away from public eye?
On the contrary, I am always in the public eye. The only difference is that my world tours take away from my country. Recently, I travelled all the way to South Africa. I visited some of the cities where no Indian has been invited though they are crazy for everything Indian - Indian arts and crafts, classical dance forms and even Bollywood music. I went to Botswana and Lesotho, as well as Durban, Mafikeng and Pretoria, apart from Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. Even otherwise, I keep performing live in the UK, the US of A and Canada. Last year I have also traveled within the country to small towns with my troupe. I met people who are great followers of Mahatma Gandhi and it was lovely to know that our leaders and great men are considered icons in other countries too. I ended up singing Ragupati raghav raja raam… almost at every concert

Then how come one hears so little of you?
In India, unfortunately if one's mug appears on the tube, gyrating in a music video, one is termed hot and happening. And to ensure that viewers get t see them, one must cut an album regularly. Isn't that so? I know it's been a long time since I released an album. But let me assure you that by early next year, you'll get to hear my new album.

You sing Bollywood hit numbers when you perform live. How come playback singing doesn't interest you?
It does. I have grown up listening to Hindi music ever since I was a child. I have sung for films but they weren't hits. And then I started singing ghazals which became hugely popular though initially people did sit up and wondered how a girl who looks modern, would do justice to intense lyrics by great poets. Though my experience with the Bollywood worlds hasn't been really memorable, I am game for anything good, film, folk, classical or ghazals. My PR has been bad but I wish to renew contacts with the film industry soon

Rumours are afloat that you are going to tie the knot soon and hence cutting down on your singing.
Am I? I didn't know that.Sadly, it's not true. If I have any such ambitions, I would be the first one to announce it and would not hide it under any circumstances.

Are you in touch with your guru Madhu Rani ji?
Of course, how can I not be in touch with her. I make it a point to visit her every time I reach Mumbai. And I also make her listen to my new songs before I record them. Her comments are very important and if she wants a few changes to be incorporated, I must follow them unquestioningly.

Earlier your enunciation had come in for a lot of flak.
My enunciation is my strength. It's my style. Let me put it this way - my style is my own, it's very easy going but no one can fault my diction - Urdu, Hindi or any other language I choose to sing in. And ultimately, isn't one's 'sur' the most important thing in one's rendering of a song or a ghazal?