Shalmali Kholgade ‘You just have to feel the music’

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 16 August 2018

Popular singer-songwriter-composer Shalmali Kholgade says that listeners are opening up to English music by Indian composers and singers

Shalmali Kholgade, the popular Bollywood playback singer, has keen interest in Western music. She recently launched her English single Spark A Fire with her girl gang comprising Riya Duggal, Simran Duggal, Pratiksha Kale and Neha Tawde. The pop track, arranged and produced by Sunny MR, talks about the path that music has paved for each one of them and how like the pieces of a puzzle, they all came together to make a beautiful composition that makes the listeners groove along. 

The song has got mixed response on various platforms but that hasn’t deterred Shalmali because the idea was to write together, make an effort, come together and be together from the beginning till the end of the song. “Because five of us have written the song and each one of us has a different viewpoint on what music does for us, the song is for music and what music does to us,” says Shalmali. 

This is the first time Shalmali, Riya, Simran, Pratiksha and Neha have collaborated. Explaining how the band came together, Shalmali says, “I have always wanted to sing and dance on stage. It has been a dream and I am moving towards it by doing it at my live shows. I, therefore held auditions where I wanted to check if there are young singers who can sing and dance. Four people passed the auditions and became part of my band. I just decided I will do whatever I can to help these girls achieve their musical dream and they in return helped me in making my show the way I wanted to.” 

Time and again, Shalmali has shared her passion for Western music. Was it difficult getting into Bollywood genre? She says that there is no denying that her strength is in singing Western or English songs, and the reason she fits into Bollywood is because of this very reason. “It’s not because I can shift genres that I fit into Bollywood but because I have learnt, over the last few years, how to mould my voice into Indian playback manner. The shift happens automatically and it’s not a big effort. You just have to feel the music,” says the songwriter and composer.

Even though a considerable number of artists from India are creating Western music, does she see young listeners opening up to them? To this, the Pareshaan, Balam Pichkari, Lat Lag Gayi, Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai singer says that when compared to Hindi and regional music, the number of Western music listeners isn’t large but listeners are opening up to English music by Indian singers and composers. “It’s not like we do not have an audience for Western music at all. There is an audience although it’s negligible. There are people listening to international music because the internet is such a huge influence on people today. There is music from all over the world that people listen to, including languages we possibly don’t understand,” she says. 

And does she feel that Indian musicians, who are into Western music, have a hard time competing with international artists? “I don’t think we can use the word competition when it comes to music because that just takes away from the whole experience of music or what music is to people. Yes, perhaps a listener would not tune into an Indian musician putting up Western/English music. But there are musicians from all over the world from non-English speaking countries like Norway, Sweden who put out English music and they still have audiences in America and UK, which are primarily English speaking countries,” Shalmali points out. 

She says that artists from India like Nicholson, a live Electronic Music outfit based out of Mumbai, Madboy/ Mink, a duo based out of Mumbai, Nikhil D’souza are putting out fantastic music. “It may not get the same amount of fame that Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars get but that is really no criterion as long as they get to making that music and getting listeners, however small or large the number,” says the singer who is currently working on two commercial independent Hindi songs with two different producers. She is also set to release more English singles which she has worked on for the past three years and also a few Marathi playback songs which will release soon.

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