‘I have been able to prove my versatility in Bollywood’

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 15 December 2017

Talented singer and songwriter Shashaa Tirupati talks about her Bollywood and indie songs, and A R Rahman, who spotted the talent in her.

It’s been a successful year for Shashaa Tirupati. The singer delivered a series of hits including Humma Humma (OK Jaanu), Baarish and Phir Bhi Tumko Chaahunga (Half Girlfriend), Kanha (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan), Hawa Hawai (Tumhari Sulu) and others. “The best thing about 2017 is that I have been able to prove my versatility. I feel so blessed and grateful.

First Humma... happened and then I got a call from Mithoon for Phir Bhi... and then Tanishk for Baarish. The songs I have sung are from different genres and styles of music,” says Shashaa when we catch up with her in the city on Wednesday. 

In fact, Kanha fetched her the year’s first award (Star Awards 2017 for Best Singer Female). “The beautiful thing about a song like Kanha is that people recognising you. It’s not the kind of song which will get 200 million hits but it’s still got 4 million hits. It’s amazing the way the industry is changing with composers like Amit Trivedi, Sneha Khanwalkar, Rachita Arora who are bringing a lot of unexplored music to the fore,” she adds.   

With several hits to her credit, one would expect her to become choosy about the songs she picks but Shashaa maintains that she wants to sing for everyone. “I want to sing for Vishal-Shekhar, Amit Trivedi, Pritam, Amaal Mallik. I am kind of choosy about the work I do and I am definitely conscious about the lyrics I sing or the label I am singing for. I do have my boundaries and I realise that. Otherwise, I am open to singing for new and different people because there are some great talents out there,” she quips. 

She says that the reason for singing with newer producers and composers is that she wants to explore the genres that haven’t been explored before in her voice. “I want to put out the talent that’s not emerged before,” she says.

Explaining how she approaches different genres of songs, she says that when she is given a song, she becomes the actor behind the microphone. “Our face is not seen but we need to express the feeling that the actor will express. When I am told that it’s a song about heartbreak, I need to enact that in front the microphone. If I am singing a semi-classical song, I need to practise it so that I am able to deliver the nuances that such songs require. When I was singing Humma.., I was told that the scene will be shot in a bedroom and the song needs to sound raunchy and husky. So I incorporated those details while singing,” she says.

Shashaa was in Pune to work on her independent music and songwriting. She is happy with the growth that independent music industry has witnessed in the last decade or so. “Considering how bad things were some 10-15 years back, it’s good to see that the entire scene has changed now. Earlier, the music was predominantly about Bollywood or popular music.

But look at NH7 Weekender or other fests, we see a wide variety of artists performing. In addition to that, Bollywood artists are also contributing to indie music — it gives them scope to express or do the kind of music they like and listeners too get a wide variety of music. I am hoping it will get better with time,” says the singer who is equally known for singing in Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Konkani, Arabic and English. 

Shashaa’s association with composer and singer A R Rahman goes long way. It was Rahman who first noticed the singer during Coke Studio Season 3. Since then, she has sung for him in several of his projects like Kochadaiiyaan - The Warrior, Lingaa, O Kadhal Kanmani, Mariyaan, Muhammad The Prophet, Achcham Enbadhu Madamaiyada etc. She hopes their equation remains the same forever. “I have got some fantastic songs from him. It looks like the compositions chose me. The best part about Rahman is that he understands your potentials, which you yourself might not have known, and he will get them out of you. He’s called me for songs which I thought I won’t able to sing. He extracts magic out of artists,” says Shashaa who has also sung Mechanical Sundariye from Robot 2.0, which she says is a contemporary number.
 

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