The soulful singer
Bela Shende collaborates with music maestro A R Rahman for Sai Shirdi Sai from an upcoming project titled 99 Songs
Bela Shende is one of the most versatile singers from the city who has proved her mettle in the music industry. There are many music numbers to her credit, some of her best known works include Mann Mohanaa from the film Jodhaa Akbar, which was composed by A R Rahman, Wajle Ki Bara and Apsara Aali from Natarang.
Recently, she collaborated again with the master composer, A R Rahman, to deliver a soulful religious number Sai Shirdi Sai from an upcoming project 99 Songs. Rahman has composed, produced and co-written 99 Songs. Talking about her experience of working with him, she says, “My first collaboration with A R Rahman was for Mann Mohanaa from Jodhaa Akbar which was very tough, after which I sang several other songs in different languages. Sai Shirdi Sai is my 13th song with him. Each time I work with him, it is an overwhelming and a divine experience for me. Every time he surprises me with new tunes he comes up with.”
Sai Shirdi Sai is the first song that has been released from the album in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. “Sai Shirdi Sai is a step ahead of Mann Mohanaa, which was a Krishna bhajan. The recent song is based on Sai Baba and has a beautiful blend of Sufi and Nirguni bhajan with a semi-classical base. It has a meditative feel to it and is a treat for the listeners,” says Bela adding that performing in different languages is more enriching than challenging. “For the past one-and-a-half years, we have been working on the mukhada, antara, and tunes. We can see the results, it is such a lovely tune and the response has been great,” she says.
As an artist, one has to believe in the divinity of art. “I believe that it is very important to surrender to the ‘feeling’ of the art. While singing one must get the feel, the mood and the emotion of the song, only then can they convey those emotions to others. I feel fortunate about getting the opportunity to sing with different emotions, be it spiritual or romantic.”
Fluency in regional languages
Irrespective of the language, Bela says that it is important to first get the feel of the song before understanding the lyrics. She says, “I have sung in different languages of South India like Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam and every time it has been a new experience for me. Since I wasn’t familiar with the language, people around me saw to it that I pronounced the words properly. At the same time, I made it a point to write down the words so that I could talk in the way the locals speak. Once I got the hang of it, it became easier.”
Response for the song
Since the main language is Hindi, the Hindi version of Sai Shirdi Sai was released first followed by the Tamil and Telugu versions. The response for the song has been amazing. Speaking about Rahman’s response, she says ecstatically, “Rahmanji was present at all the sessions when we were recording the song. It is more impromptu than going prepared for his recording sessions. Being a spiritual person himself, he was very happy. He is easy to talk to and has a lot of faith in his singers so he gives them the freedom when they are on the microphone. He is very appreciative of new improvisations the singer comes up with. After we recorded the Tamil and Telugu versions of the song, he listened to it and exclaimed ‘Mashallah’.”
Bela has sung the tracks Aaichan Ra and Ye Na Gavran Maine for the recently released Marathi film Rampat. Ye Na Gavran Maine, she says, has three genres like romantic, rock-n-roll, and folk (Gavran) mixed in one melody. In another upcoming film, Mogara Fulala, Bela has rendered a ghazal number titled Marva, which has beautiful lyrics and emotions.