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    "It was un-cool to sing Hindi songs in school" - Anushka

    [Interview by Joginder Tuteja]
    Tuesday, October 31, 2006
    She has sung two songs for Bollywood so far out of which one is a superhit [Title song - Golmaal] and the other has been noticed well [Title song - Zindaggi Rocks] before the movie came and went in a jiffy. We are talking about VIVA girl Anushka, who is now making her presence felt in the Bollywood playback singing and knocking just the right doors to be heard by the dream merchants. Over to Anushka Manchanda to get some inside info about how it took her such a long time to enter playback singing mould and what is she up to in coming days.

    Response to your title song of 'Golmaal' had been quite encouraging while you seemed to have been rocking all the way in 'Zindaggi Rocks' too.

    Yes, that's true. It has been quite a cool year so far. And the best thing to have happened is that people have come back to me and asked me that "Anushka, is it really you who we have heard in these songs!" And I am like, "Ya, that's right, it's indeed me!" People are more surprised about my rendition for 'Golmaal Golmaal' since it was largely in English and had a heavy accent to it that made it quite unbelievable for many that it was rendered by me.

    Isn't it heartening that 'Golmaal' is still playing loud all over in spite of being heard first almost 6 months back?

    Yes, indeed is it, why would I deny that, but isn't it bizarre as well? It released months back and while it was popular even then, it has really caught on in a big way over the period of time. Guess the song has stood out amidst all the clutter. Now I hear it being played all over the discotheques while demand for it is really high even when I visit discotheques or pubs. Now these are the places that could well be called as the barometer of a song's success since it means that the song has really caught on with the yuppy crowds!

    Which makes one wonder where were you all this while? What made you take so long to make your Bollywood debut?

    Ask me. I was merrily singing songs for Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films but there wasn't anything on the Hindi music front. Then out of a blue Vishal Dadlani [of Vishal Shekhar duo], whom I had met some time back as a Channel [V] VJ, called me. I was at the airport and he told me about this rocking song he had in mind for me. He hummed the tune for me and asked me why don't I give it a try since he believed that I could do it well. Next thing I knew, I had my tickets booked for Mumbai.

    And where did that leave VIVA, your band?

    It has split up. Though Pratichee and I are still in touch and Mahua is like my sister, there is nothing happening professionally as a group. But then I believe in the principal of 'Never Say Never'! Who knows we may be working something together in future again. We have sorted out our difference but just on different paths today.

    So where does that leave your love for pop music?

    I have recently done the remix version of 'Aa Jaane Jaa' for DJ Suketu which is currently on air. It was mainly due to Suketu that I agreed to be a part of this song though I prefer that I always appear in the music videos of my songs too. Also, I am not a big fan of remixes but in this case I really had a blast since it was first of its kinds.

    What else is happening in the professional world?

    I am doing some modeling for my friends. Apart from that I have also acted in some episodes of Great Indian Comedy Show. Let's see how far would I be going in that. Apart from that I have also acted in an anti-drug documentary plus there are a lot of shows happening where I am invited to perform. Net net, I am getting a lot of chance to travel which I simply love.

    This sounds like a lot of work.

    [Laughs] Guess I am a Jack of all here. I am open to doing a lot of more stuff too. For example, I want to learn Salsa since I simply love it. I would attribute all this growth and interests to my parents. In my younger days itself I started learning piano while my brother is into guitar. So it is a virtual 'band-baaja' at my home. I have grown in a house where music like Deep Purple and Santana is being heard for ages. My dad himself is a big fan of Metallica.

    Anushka, one wonders why one still doesn't hear much about you in spite of being into thick of so many activities?

    See, I have never done any PR at all in my professional career so far. Maximum that I have done is going to the premiers but that's about it. I am not even media savvy at all as I do not have spoon fed answers. I have all this while believed that my work should be doing all the talking. But amidst all this, my friends and well wishers have always told me to be more 'visible' overall. They tell me that how could I expect to have people knowing all about your work when a) you don't have any demo tape of yours and b) people are not aware about the songs that you have sung since you have haven't shouted about them from the rooftops. See, people presumed that I had stopped singing when I started VJing. Also when someone told me 4 years back that I could take up playback singing, I laughed at them. To be honest I was real crap as a Hindi singer. I wasn't into much Bollywood music either since it was unconsidered un-cool in school. But now I am a lot into Hindi music. Also I really like being a part of Bollywood songs since directors are in a mood of experimentation in spite of the fact that I do not have a typical heroine voice.

    So what kind of practice do you do to keep your voice in shape?

    Nothing, I do not do 'riyaaz' or anything. Earlier I started using it for a while but then to my horror I lost my voice for 2 months. Can you believe it? Iske baad mujhe thoda vehem ho gaya and I stopped doing any kind of 'riyaaz' per se. Now I just keeping singing the song till I finally get it.

    When VIVA was formed, it was a product of one of the first ever talent hunt shows. Today there are dozens of them. Comments?

    I think it is great to have so many talent hunt shows happening all over. In early years one used to hear so much about young ones being taken for a ride in the name if career development but today it's a different scenario altogether. In the past even my mom wouldn't have let me go alone for a stint into the music world but now with so much support from channels it's a different ball game altogether. With so much of backing around, it makes parents feel much more secure. Also, the encounter with reality is much quicker. If you are talented, you don't have to slog and if you are not, you know about that pretty soon.

    Coming back to current times, what else is keeping you busy?

    There are some things happening in singing, writing and composing front but can't talk about it now before things are finalized. Also, I am regular with Tamil songs so that keeps me busy. I have some real big hits to my credit there. I have sung songs for Harris Jayaraj [of 'Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein' fame] and Shankar Raja. I have also sung for Sandeep Chowta's 'Super' which came around a year back and was one of the best songs I have ever been a part of. It just rocked. The only regret is that not many are aware out here in Mumbai about this work and it seems about time that I come up with my demo [Laughs]. Yes, I do find this whole concept of PR too a little strange but guess one needs to take this too in his/her stride.

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