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Small Wonder

Shalmali Kholgade is an emerging singer to watch out for. With two of her songs becoming big hits, the talented young woman is already in demand


I have lived in Mumbai all my life, in fact, all the 22 years that I have walked this planet! I started learning classical music from my mother ever since I was seven. I didn’t attend music classes very religiously since I was learning it at home.

My first stage performance was when I was seven, for my mother’s gurupurnima. Throughout school, I used to dance, sing, act and draw. Those were my four strengths. Slowly, I realised I was better at singing and felt happiest when I sang. However, I continued with my Kathak classes. Around that time, I attended an NSD workshop and landed a lead role in a play but soon I realised that acting was not my cup of tea!

I became a vocalist with with Mikey McCleary’s band, The Bartender which has played to packed houses at leading clubs and lounges across the city.

I have also been a soloist with a Latvian troupe in a cabaret named Bombaloo, which had the opportunity to tour Moscow, Russia and Armenia.


First Break

During my college days, I worked for a studio in Malad, where I was into music programming. A close friend asked me if I wanted to hang out at the studios. So when they had a jingle but didn’t have a singer, they would suggest my name. I did ad jingles for three years. After that, I sang backing vocals for singers Shibani Kashyap and Neha Bhasin.


My first film song

I hadn’t considered singing for films at all. Instead, I wanted to study music at the LA Academy. Since I couldn’t go there myself, I sent them a demo. I uploaded those songs online too. A week later, I received a call from a friend Anjo John, who used to work for Amit Trivedi as a programmer. He asked me if I had a demo as Amit was looking for a new voice for Yash Raj Films’ Ishaqzaade.

I didn’t have a Hindi demo and sent an English demo instead which included what I had sung for a few commercials and four English songs. I was shocked when I received a call asking me to come to the studio at 10 in the night! I had heard all these stories about the big, bad world of Hindi film industry and so I was scared. I quickly called a dozen people to check if it was OK to make such a late-night studio visit. I was very nervous to meet Amit Trivedi as he was quite famous. But, when I went, he was this simple, down-to-earth man. He made me sing a few lines from the song Main pareshan… And two days later, there I was singing my first film song, which became a huge hit later.


Daaru Desi

For Cocktail, I recorded the song Daaru Desi in May and it released in June. This song was more my kind as I was very used to singing English numbers.



These days, I am busy attending any and every recording. I have worked with Hitesh Sonik and several other music directors. I have also sung three songs for Vasan Bala’s Peddlers, which went to the Cannes Film Festival.

Everyone says that I have been very lucky to taste success so early in my career but I feel this is not so much the result of my efforts but what I was naturally endowed with. Now, there is a huge pressure on me to deliver. I don’t want to be a one-song wonder. So I want to tread carefully and I am open to learning.

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