Shalmali Kholgade: Deepika Padukone is my favourite

After jamming with Parineeti Chopra and brainstorming with Amit Trivedi, we wonder what the new playback singer on the block will do next

This young enthusiastic musician made sure that she heard Bollywood music only outside her home environment. She has never been an avowed Hindi music fan, until fate came up with new plans for her, of course. She entered the labyrinth of B-town with a bang. Delivering hit numbers like Pareshaan (Ishaqzaade) and now Daru desi (Cocktail), Ms Kholgade has decided to give working in this industry a shot. And although the songs she has chosen are drastically different from those she usually likes and hums, this indie music lover confesses that she’s having the time of her life in Bollywood, a place that’s always throbbing with life…

How did Pareshaan happen?

I have a friend who worked as a programmer for Amit Trivedi. And one fine day he asked me if I could send him a demo. I had already recorded two demos for LA Music Academy, where I was headed to study.  I told him that the demos were of no use, ‘coz they were in English. He insisted and I went ahead without wasting much time. I was called for a meeting the next day, but I had my own apprehensions and hence I consulted some people I knew. And everyone had the same question – how could I say ‘no’ to Amit Trivedi! At the meeting, Amit just made me sing two lines and the very next day we recorded the song.

So that’s why you quit the idea of going to LA Music Academy?

Yes, and although I received the admission letter, I thought of staying back to see how my stint with Bollywood would go. Basically, you should try everything that comes your way; you never know what clicks.

You don’t listen to Bollywood music at all?

Not really. I listen to Hindi music only when I am sitting in a friend’s car or walking around in a shopping mall. And when I was told that I had an offer from Yash Raj, I’d no clue whatsoever about how big the banner is. I thought people were just hyping it up in order to motivate me. But now I’ve started listening to Bollywood music (laughs).

Who inspires you from the Bollywood music fraternity?

After I recorded Pareshaan and started spending more time in the studio environment, I heard very inspiring stories about Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan. I’ve been in awe of them since then. I have checked out their live show videos and am absolutely floored by the way they deliver. But when it comes to music directors, there are three on my list, of which I’ve already struck out one name – that’s Amit Trivedi. I also hope to work with AR Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj some day.

You sang for Cocktail recently?

Ya, I recorded Daru desi with Benny Dayal.

Which is your personal favorite, Pareshaan or Desi daru?

Both of them, ‘coz I got to display my versatility in these songs. One is more of a rock number and the other has a very feel-good quality associated with it. So right now everything I am doing is challenging and, considering I am enjoying it, it’s difficult to choose one over the other.

Parineeti is a good singer – what do you think of her voice?

I’ve met her once while we were shooting ‘the making of’ video of Pareshaan, which is uploaded on youtube. She’s such a lovely, lively and enthusiastic person. She literally hugged me when she discovered that I was the voice behind the song. When I heard her singing, I was thinking that she could have sung her own songs, coz she’s brilliant. We sang Pareshaan together. And when we sang the chorus, I asked her to do it in harmony and she instantly agreed. I think she’s got a huge amount of talent.

Given a chance, the one thing you would like to change about Bollywood music?

I don’t like the fact that it gets more accepting of different kinds of voices than different kinds of music. For instance, Aafaton ke parindey in Ishaqzaade has tried the whole Dubstep thing and that, fortunately, has been received well. And while some have criticised it saying that it’s a failed attempt, the fact remains that someone has dared to venture into this area. I hope this continues to happen and people start doing something that’s more universal and international.

There was a time in Bollywood when the singer’s voice had to match the actor’s – is that still how it works?

The best part is that not all songs are lip-synced any more. These days a lot of songs are used in the background to push the story ahead. I think the change is for the good and that way you don’t have to always replicate the actor’s voice.

What other assignments are in the pipeline?

There’s one song from Aiyaa which is still to be released and is called Aga bai. I’ve also recorded a song for Peddlers and I’m awaiting the release with bated breath. I haven’t had the chance to sing Pareshaan in any of my live shows yet. I am waiting to do that.

Any unpleasant experiences so far, considering you’re a fresher in the industry?

None whatsoever! People keep telling me, don’t talk too much and just do your job and get out. Everyone asks me to take a lot of precautionary measures in the Bollywood environment. But I haven’t felt the need to be careful till now. But I am a very bad judge of people!

So are you waiting to watch Cocktail?

Yes, I am (yells)!  I am a huge fan of Deepika Padukone and I think she’s great. I am happy I got to sing in a film which stars Deepika.