Hitting the high notes

In 2013, Shalmali Kholgade swept all the awards with her song Pareshaan. Now, international shores beckon as she gears up to perform at Times Square, finds Deepali Dhingra

Her voice is sensual and there is no note singer Shalmali Kholgade will not try to reach in her renditions. Last year, she bagged all the playback awards in the debut categories. The ‘Pareshaan’ singer has since rendered hit, melodious numbers such as Balam Pichkari and Daaru Desi.

Shalmali Kholgade

This year, too, has been a busy one for Kholgade with a recent eight-city tour in the US. The singer has now been invited to perform at Times Square for Diwali on September 20 and will later perform at the Government of India show in Seychelles. Excerpts from an interview:

Q. How did the performance at Times Square come about?
A. My performance at Times Square is part of a MTDC show being held there during Diwali. Like most things that have happened to me, this opportunity, too,
was unexpected.

Q. Which songs will you perform there?
A. It is heartening for me to know that 80 per cent of my set is of songs I’ve sung. I’ll predominantly perform medleys of my songs, including Pareshaan, Balam Pichkari, Lat Lag Gayi, Tera Naam Doon and D se Dance. I’ll also include a retro medley of RD Burman songs, so it is more relatable to the older generation.

Q. How do you work your way around inane item numbers and outrageous lyrics? Is it difficult to come by meaning
in melody?
A. If I am not comfortable singing certain kinds of lyrics, I decline the offer. This, though, has happened only a couple of times. Perhaps my voice isn’t suitable for such songs, so I am not offered such songs very often.

Q. In 2013, you bagged all the playback singing awards. What do you feel about the
growing competition?
A. I don’t function optimally under competition. I like knowing that there’s a lot to learn, and am encouraged by the presence of newer singers. That said, I don’t see anyone as competition for the simple reason that it affects
my growth.

Q. You’ve dabbled in Bengali, Marathi, Telugu and Tamil songs. How was the experience?
A. Singing in regional languages broadened my horizon. I have an affinity for languages. I love learning diction and intonation. I’ve always enjoyed the lingual nuances in songs. I recently did a show with Pritam in Italy and sang an Italian number, L’Italiano.

Q. You admitted in interviews last year that you hardly listened to Bollywood music. Has that changed?
A. (Laughs) I’m better equipped now. I listen to the radio which keeps me updated with new songs. Now, I don’t feel lost in conversations on Bollywood songs!

Q. Are you working on non-film projects too?
A. I have been brainstorming with people, but nothing has been finalised yet. I’m also determined to release a musical wherein I sing, dance and act on stage, perhaps with Bollywood songs.

Top five songs on Shalmali's iPod

>> Sam Smith’s album In The Lonely Hour
>> Samjhavan from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania
>> Age Of Worry by John Mayer
>> For Real by Amel Larrieux
>> Afreen by AR Rahman

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