Breathing life into Rahman's melodies

Updated: Mar 23, 2020, 08:28 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Shashwat Singh on being the voice of protagonist in maestro's upcoming production, 99 Songs

Shashwat Singh
Shashwat Singh

Five years after he met him at a Chennai studio — an interaction that eventually extended into collaborations for films like Tamasha and Mohenjo Daro — Shashwat Singh finds himself being the voice of the protagonist in AR Rahman's coveted production, 99 Songs. "I was speaking to the director [Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy] recently, and he told me that Ehan Bhat, who plays the lead in the film, was cast after my voice was given to him. It was around my voice that they developed the storyline, and then auditioned for the role accordingly. I feel privileged," says Singh, who had been working with Rahman to breathe life into this project since its onset in 2017.

"He says when you sing, [your voice] should heal the listener. That was the biggest pointer. I've seen him do everything from scratch; all on his own. He will first sit by himself, make the structure of the song, its melody, and lines. He is particular about [including] the kind of inflections he desires."

AR Rahman
AR Rahman

While rendering Rahman's Ruby ruby in Sanju, Singh was told to bear in mind Sanjay Dutt's mannerisms. "[Rahman] told me to think of how Sanjay Dutt would talk, and then render the song accordingly. If you hear the number, you'll notice specific parts that were derived from this pointer." But with the music-development and shoot of 99 Songs taking place simultaneously, he did not have any visual reference to guide him. "In this case, I had the lyrics to [turn to]. And sir always specifies what he wants. You won't realise it then, but on hearing the song later, you'll understand exactly why he demands something," says Singh, who also shared the mic with Rahman for tracks like Nayi nayi.

Sound check

A snap review of new music

Armaan Malik

Armaan Malik's new single
Worth your time: Yes

Control is instantly reminiscent of 2000's Jay Sean tracks like Down and Do you remember, but quickly evolves to match contemporary music sensibilities. Armaan Malik outshines what could have been expected of him from his debut English track, and surprises with promising beats, strategically placed along the over three-minute long track.

The video is shot to match a rather typical English pop song, but does a fine job of replicating the overall look. As he does with every Bollywood number, Malik delivers with his vocals, leaving listeners with no reason to raise fingers.

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