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Jazzing It Up

Playback singer Shashaa Tirupati talks to Titas Chowdhury about her latest track from the upcoming film GOLD, her process of approaching songs and more

Vocalist Shashaa Tirupati has added yet another feather to her cap with Monobina, a retro jazz number from the upcoming film GOLD. Describing the track, she says, “Monobina is a very interesting song. It was a fun song to sing because, personally, I am a huge fan of jazz. The song has that big band, brass, strings kind of feel to it.”

Divulging details about how she bagged the track, she says, “The makers wanted a very old school, a very 20s and 30s kind of intonation. The composer (Tanishk Bagchi) sent me the scale of minus one and asked me to record on that. He briefed me on the song and the melody. He wanted a nasal voice that was very popular during the era of Suraiya and Noor Jehan. He also wanted to retain what I sound like, because every singer has an identity of her own. I delivered, and everyone liked it.”

Talking about leaving a signature stamp in every song she lends her voice to, she remarks, “It is about not losing yourself. My voice is my voice. The song is coming through my voice. So, it will have that individuality.” She adds, “It is control, at the end of the day. When you are singing behind a microphone, you got to do a little bit of trial and error; you try different tones and see which one is working for the film.”

Speaking about Bagchi, the singer says, “Tanishk is very fresh in his approach. The same goes for Vayu (Srivastava). Tanishk and Vayu work as a duo. Kanha and Motorcycle were composed by Vayu and produced by Tanishk. Tanishk is equally apt at keeping production sound very, very new-age.”

Taking us back to her initial collaborations with the composer, she states, “Tanishk and I go back 10 years. We are thick friends. I used to assist him. After that, we composed together for three years. This is when my music career was totally in the dumps. I met him for a song that he wanted me to sing. I sang some of my compositions that he wanted to hear. He really liked them. Then, suddenly, my singing career took off.”

What bothers Tirupati is the dearth of female duets in the Hindi music industry. “I think Monobina is the only female duet I have heard in a very long time. Back in the day, you had Suman Kalyanpur singing with Lata Mangeshkar. You had Lataji singing with Asha taai (Bhonsle). We used to have female icons who had songs to themselves. I guess it is the requirement of movies nowadays. Maybe we are not all that significant any more. I would want to do both solos and female duets.”

Explaining her method of approaching songs, she comments, “I would not say that I modify my song depending on the actor, because a lot of times, I do not know who I am singing for. But in every song, there is a predominant mood and vibe. You have to remember that at the end of the day, if the actor or the actress is the face of a song, then the singer becomes the voice of the song. So, we are the actors behind the microphone. Hence, it is crucial that we imbibe that actor in us when we are delivering a song.”

The singer is known for rendering her tones differently in different songs. “If you feel that I sound different in different songs, I try and let go of who I am and become the character. And of course, the composers play a major role in it. It is their guidance. It is about them telling that they want a certain tonality. The composers are sitting with the producers and the director, they are more aware of what the production house or the director would want from the singer. They are in a better stage to tell us about the artistic requirements of the song.”

Expressing her desire to croon party numbers, the singer says, “Whatever you have heard and the songs that I get are the songs that I would have liked to sing. But I would love to explore club songs and the party numbers. I would love to sing something a Lat lag gayi or a Sooraj dooba hai.”

Commenting on lending her vocals to songs of diverse genres, she says, “I have been lucky enough to get people who have called me and believed in me that I will be able to render a lot of different genres. It has not come to that point where I have been picking songs. I have been lucky to get good songs by God’s grace. When I am approached for a song, I listen to it, and 95 per cent of the time, I end up liking the tracks.”

For Tirupati, recreations are like old wine served in a new bottle. “It is so important to appreciate the music rather than judge it. There are a lot of youngsters who have not heard songs from the 90s. At least, you leave the possibility and create that bit of curiosity for kids to go back to listen to the original songs. In a way, it is a boon. Let us not be judgmental to that kind of music. I have sung a lot of recreations. Changes will take place with each era, but wherever you are getting to hear rich music, give it a chance.”

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