Singer Shreya Ghoshal believes she represents the nation on the world stage making the kind of music she does. The singer speaks to MetroPlus on her latest indie track ‘Angana Morey’
Shreya Ghoshal’s hectic life revolving around concerts and studios came to a grinding halt in 2020 during lockdown. Far away from her musical colleagues, Shreya felt “uninspired”. The urge to do something close to her roots resulted in ‘Angana Morey’, an independent track she released on February 3.
The song, which has already clocked over seven million views on YouTube, is a contemporary interpretation of a girl longing for her beloved. Over phone from Mumbai, Shreya shares her excitement on what the positive response means to her. Edited excerpts:
The reaction to the song suggests fans expect more non-film content from you…
Fans have given extra love to this song probably because it is a personal project. ‘Angana…’ is very different from what I have done before. It cannot be defined in a genre. But the positive feedback it has received gives me encouragement and tells me that I’m on the right track.
Was it liberating that there was no composer, director or music label telling you what to do?
It was. The song was done during a time when I was feeling very uninspired. During lockdown, I was cut-off from colleagues and working from a small corner of my house. ‘Angana Morey’ was like a boat that kept me afloat in those times. It kept me busy because I had to coordinate with musicians across the world.
Usually, as a singer, my participation in a song comes in the second phase, once the tune and lyrics are set. With ‘Angana Morey’, which I composed, wrote and sang, I got to experience a part of the creation process. The music production, done by my brother Soumyadeep Ghoshal, was done around my improvisations.
#ShreyaRevivesIndianMusic was a Twitter trend after the song’s release. Your thoughts?
I see myself as an ambassador of Indian music. I just love the classical and folk music of India. I have travelled every part of the world and listened to all kinds of music, but Indian music is something else. Its melodic richness is unparalleled due to the ragas and emotions behind it. We need to place it in the right position on the world music map.
You grew up a fan of AR Rahman. Today, when you record tracks with him, is it easy to see him as a colleague?
I am still in awe of him. I have to put in a lot of effort to make conversation. It is difficult to bridge this gap between being a fan and a colleague, as I have admired him for long.
The ARR sir that I saw a decade ago is very different from the person I see today; he has opened up and is enjoying life. It is a lovely side of him that I now see. There is an aura around him that I feel comes only to some people who are very elevated in their spiritual philosophy.
With composer D Imman, you have produced lilting melodies in Tamil…
Imman’s music is like a Christmas gift that keeps surprising you. He sings the track himself and teaches it to me in an old-school manner.
The mark of a great musical artiste is the ability to create a charanam that is even better than a pallavi. Imman has that quality. He creates a musical ladder that takes you through a climax and comes back to the beginning. There is an old-school vice in his melodies wrapped in a new-age arrangement; that is what I love most. I have sung for him in Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe.
What does it take to get the correct pronunciation of words in languages you are not familiar with?
I’m a Bengali and when I hear a Bengali song, I get very thrown off if a word is mispronounced. My whole focus starts revolving around that mispronounced word, and not on the musical expression. I just cannot have that kind of a flaw when I sing. It hurts me if I get criticised for mispronunciation because I feel I am doing a big disservice to the language.
In my first Tamil song — ‘Chellame Chellame’ (Album) for Karthik Raja — it was very challenging because there were so many words that I was not used to. That was my introduction to a new language, but I understood how musical it was. I have since wanted to ensure that my diction does not sound like an outsider.
What do you make of the changing music tastes of today?
It is amazing to see the young generation listening to such variety of music. It helps that multiple platforms are promoting indie artistes. This lets the listener explore his/her musical taste and helps in finding the artiste closest to that.
With so many platforms, How do you think an aspiring musician should go about their career today?
I got hooked on to social media at a very early age. I took it as a big boon, and today, it greatly helps me connect with fans. For aspiring musicians, it is a great way to announce their creations to the world. Today, it is a creators’ world and not that of the music bosses.
Having said that, one needs to find the right balance… this ‘oh, I have to put something out, it will become viral’ thought process is detrimental to a creator. Music cannot be decided by numbers.