The new nightingale INTRO: K Raman Iyer chronicles singing sensation Shreya Ghoshal’s rise to fame
If you believe in astrology, those who are born under the star sign ‘Pisces’ are supposed to unbelievably talented, imaginative, and sensitive.
Perhaps those traits would best explain the reasons Piscean Shreya Ghoshal is regarded one of the best playback singers in India today.
When Shreya (nicknamed Piu) arrived on the music scene in 2003, the Nightingale of India Lata Mangeshkar had decided to call it a day, while singers Alka Yagnik, Sadhana Sargam, and Kavitha Krishna Moorthy had a stronghold on the industry in Bollywood. But Shreya, the girl from Kota, like a bolt from the blue, took the playback world by storm.
In eight years, Shreya has chalked up four National Awards (the only singer to have won so many before the age of 26), four Film Fare Awards and 21 other prestigious awards for her singing. She has sung for more than 150 film productions (I lost count of it may be much more) and to date, averages 20 films per year, which in any estimate is a massive workload indeed, considering the number of overseas singing assignments she undertakes.
A Bengali Brahmin girl from Rawat Bhata of Kota district, of Rajasthan, Shreya’s family hailed from Durgapur, West Bengal. Shreya, who is now nearly 30 years old, is conventionally well trained in Hindustani classical music, like her mother who is a Hindustani musician.
Credit goes to the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa music context organising team who found this uncut gem, and later encouraged by music director Kalyanji of Kalyanji Anandji fame, and film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, her rise to stardom was meteoric.
Bhansali’s Devdas shot Shreya to stardom. The rookie singer won the Film fare Award and RD Burman’s ‘Newly Emerged Talent’ award in 2003, when she was just 19 years old, making her the youngest Film Fare award winner in the female singer’s category. In 2003, she also won the National Award for the song ‘Bairi Piya’ from Devdas.
Shreya has an uncanny ability to sing in a multitude of Indian languages, as if each one of them is her own mother tongue, a skill which is unmatched to most music followers. She is a master in voice modulation and her diction is impeccable. She effortlessly blends the characteristic theme and style of the song and language culture. In fact, she has sometimes refers to herself as a “culture curry”.
When I first heard Shreya sing in my mother tongue Malayalam I thought here is a Malayalee girl with a great future. It was a pleasant surprise to later learn she was Bengali.
In Tollywood it was Vasantha Balan’s album and the song ‘en Chellam’ that led her to sing the super-hit ‘Munbe Vaa’ under AR Rahman’s musical direction, the film being ‘Sillum oru Kaadal’. That made her the singing sensation among millions of Tamil listeners. She also sang some super hits in the other regional languages of South India. She kept on winning the highly coveted Film Fare awards in monotonous regularity. Her success in South Indian Film Fare award was impressive too. In 2006 and 2008 she won the best female singer’s award in Tamil films.
Philosophical in her conversations Shreya brings God to the forefront every moment she can. She believes God shows the path she has to tread on. “I meekly tread as per the divine command,” she says.
Perfect Harmony Productions is bringing Shreya on a concert performance at the Hills Centre, on 2 March, at 7.30 p.m. Indus Age is the media partner of the show and online booking is available. It’s definitely a show that must not be missed.
BOX Shreya’s best
My favourite Hindi songs sung by Shreya are far too many, still I restrict to ten best of them
1. Jadoo hai nasha hai (Jism)
2. Barso re (Guru)
3. Teri ore (Singh is King)
4. Yeh ishq hai (Jab we met)
5. Bairi Piya (Devadas)
6. Dola re dola (Devadas)
7. U me aur hum (U Me Aur Hum)
8. Pal pal har pal (Lage raho Munna bhai)
9. Piyu bole (Parineetha).
10. Jaane do na (Cheeni kum).