I am now in my dirty girl zone, says 'Pareshaan' singer Shalmali Kholgade

Updated: Jan 05, 2017, 13:56 IST | Benita Fernando

Award-winning artiste Shalmali Kholgade, who became synonymous with the song 'Pareshaan' from the 2012 film 'Ishqzaade', is getting ready with her singles, the first which she says is 'Hindi trap'

Shalmali Kholgade. Pic/Sameer Sayed Abedi
Shalmali Kholgade. Pic/Sameer Sayed Abedi

It's not a singing kind of song but more of the listening kind," says Shalmali Kholgade. The singer, who became synonymous with the song 'Pareshaan' from the film 'Ishqzaade' (2012), is just days away from releasing her first indie single. The 26-year-old artiste's comment is neither a smug statement about her indie debut nor is she absolving herself with a neat disclaimer.

"'Aye' is based on trap, a subset of hip hop that has been doing well in the international music scene recently," continues Kholgade, evoking inspirational girl-power divas Beyonce and Rihanna. The subgenre, exemplified by its use of synth, rhythmic snares and kick drums, is a first for Kholgade, who explains that her first indie track is going to depend heavily on music producer, Sunny Sanour. "It's a fully produced track and a producer-based genre with tonalities of several instruments," she adds.

Unlike many debut indie artistes, Kholgade is more assured, yet concerned that her listeners buy into her music. After all, her voice has been showcased several times with Bollywood hits, right from her first, Pareshaan, and Balam Pichkari (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani). She won a Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the former and a nomination for the latter. From mainstream cinema to soulful jazz, Kholgade went on to sing in The Bartender albums – Mikey McCleary's soulful twists to vintage Bollywood hits. The collaboration began after McCleary watched her tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.

'Aye', which releases on January 9, 2017, is just the first of many tracks to come. As versatile as her musical interests (which range from Hiatus Kaiyote to John Mayer), her upcoming tracks will explore other genres — there's going to be a house dancer number, an acoustic one later — in Hindi and English. 'Aye' is a Hindi trap number, a mix that Kholgade is excited about; most of her work even in Bollywood has drawn from Western music forms, like that in Bombay Velvet. "I plan to release one track every month and, when I feel I am done, I'll compile them into an album."

With lyrics written by Parag Agarwal, 'Aye' will have another first for Kholgade as director. Hesitant to tell us what kind of video it might be (Kholgade just says "bold"), the artiste tells us that the video has tapped into "a faculty of her brain which I haven't used before." She went with the advice of McCleary, who on a flight back from a gig told her that if she knew exactly what she wanted in her video, she should do it herself. "When he said it would be a great learning curve, I was hooked. I think of myself as a student-like person," she says.

"I love all kinds of music and I have my phases. I am now in my dirty girl zone," she says explaining the lyrics and the video of the song. Hoping to undo stereotypes of what is expected of men and women, the song intends to address the freedom of expression. Male dancers in heels — the thing that French dancer Yanis Marshall is famous for — was intended as part of the video but dropped later on on account of not finding the right shoes.

We wonder if Kholgade is eager to break away from the things that she is best known for. Is it time for her to showcase her versatility just as much as her voice? "Inside me, there is this feisty person who wants to do just what she wants. It may seem I am challenging myself but it is genuinely who I am. In Bollywood, there is only so much that you can do. This is me putting down my thoughts," she says.

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