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Actresses turning singers, talent or big push from technology?

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Now that some Bollywood actresses have taken to singing, we ask the experts if they are really equipped to sing or is it all thanks to the new techniques...

Shraddha Kapoor is the latest entrant on the actress-turned-singer list. She recently rendered the unplugged version of the Galliyan track from her upcoming film Ek Villain. She has also lent her voice to the background score as well.

Alia Bhatt made her singing debut with Imtiaz Ali’s Highway. Amid the appreciation, the young actress expressed interest in playback singing. However, she didn’t repeat the act with her next release, Abhishek Varman’s 2 States
Alia Bhatt made her singing debut with Imtiaz Ali’s Highway. Amid the appreciation, the young actress expressed interest in playback singing. However, she didn’t repeat the act with her next release, Abhishek Varman’s 2 States

Earlier, this year Alia Bhatt belted the Sooha Saha track in her film Highway. Madhuri Dixit along with her mother Snehalata rendered the Rangi Sari Gulabi Chunariya song in her film Gulab Gang. Priyanka Chopra has already made her debut as a singer with her albums with international artistes. Parineeti Chopra does not mind lending her voice to her films.

From left: Shraddha Kapoor, music composer Raju Singh and director Mohit Suri
From left: Shraddha Kapoor, music composer Raju Singh and director Mohit Suri

More and more actresses are not only showcasing their histrionics, but also flexing their vocal chords. The question is: Are they trained enough to take up the mike or are they doing it with a little help from auto cue?

Industry watchers feel this is yet another trick of the makers to lure the audience — making the actresses sing as well — and rake in the moolah. However it is not exactly sweet music to the cutthroat music industry who just have to accept it.

Priyanka Chopra sings at the launch of music video I Can't Make You Love Me at a nightspot in Lower Parel last month. Pic/Shadab Khan
Priyanka Chopra sings at the launch of music video I Can't Make You Love Me at a nightspot in Lower Parel last month. Pic/Shadab Khan

Using software
Says singer-turned-MP Babul Supriyo, who has been vocal about the drop in the standards of playback singing, “A while back after attending a recording session in Los Angeles and seeing how, then unknown to us, softwares were being used to beautify and pitch singers, I had predicted that every actor will sing their own song someday. This is exactly what is happening.”

Parineeti Chopra
Parineeti Chopra

Veteran composer Bappi Lahiri points out that actors singing is not exactly a new trend. “It has always been there. Decades ago Padmini Kolhapure had even recorded an album Music Lovers and sang all the tracks in the album composed by me. We had recorded it in the well-known Abbey Road Studios in London.”

Adds Lahiri, “Over the years depending on the song and the film several actors have sung which included names like Suraiya, Amjad Khan, Amrish Puri to Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Prada.”

Madhuri Dixit with her mother
Madhuri Dixit with her mother

Changing times
Lahiri, however, feels as times change, things change. So if a director feels an actor can render a track, you find something to match it. “The actors singing are just a one-off instances anyway.”

A section of the music folk feel the only reason actors sing is because technology goes a long way in helping them.

Supriyo states, “The biggest change in the music industry in recent years is that good singers are not indispensable anymore. Thanks to vocal aid softwares like Melodyne & Antares (Auto-Tune) etc, sur is not swar any more and anyone and everyone can sing a song. You can’t complain either because songs by such complete non-singers are also becoming super-hits today.

The doctrine that ‘You need to practise hard to first be a good singer and only then can you aspire to be a famous singer, doesn’t hold good or is true anymore. Sure there are exceptions like Arijit Singh, Monali Thakur, Shalmali Kholgade but honestly, forget being good or average, most singers today are not even singers in any sense of the term (pun intended).

This sentiment is echoed by singer Neha Kakkar who has rendered tracks like Dhating Naanch (Phata Poster Nikla Hero), Blue Hai Paani Paani (Yaariyan) and London Tumkata (Queen).

She points out, “Today technology has changed the entire game of the singing industry. I have been singing since the age of four. To me it won’t matter because I’ll always remain a singer come what may. Of course these beautiful ladies when they sing are pleasing to the ears and even I love to see them singing. But they might need that little push which a born singer may not.”

Supriyo adds, “In an interview when praised for his singing abilities, actor Hugh Grant, who sang his own songs in Music and Lyrics confessed, “I barked in front of the mike and the computers made me sound like a nightingale.”

Fine nuances
Says veteran singer Anuradha Paudwal, “Today we have more of a performance-oriented singing rather than the fine nuances required of a singer. Each has its own beauty, today to be able to enact is a must. If you can pull it off with your charm it is great.”

Some actors have music running in the family and so naturally talented says Lahiri, “Shradda’s grandfather Pandharinath Kolhapure is a cousin of Lata Mangeshkar, so you have to take into account. When you are musically inclined, it does come naturally to you too.”

In this technology-driven age, it is indeed very difficult to separate the actual singers from those who just love to hear the sound of their own voice — whatever others think.

What Hugh Grant had said about actors singing...

After singing in Marc Lawrence's 2007 Hollywood film 'Music and Lyrics' which had Drew Barrymore as his co-star, English actor Hugh Grant had said...

Hugh Grant

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the Eurovision. The singing thing, generally, has been a miracle and I hereby confess it’s mostly fakery. I couldn’t believe how clever computers are these days — you can literally bark like a dog and after they work on it for a day it comes out like Pavarotti.”

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