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You've teamed up with your mentor, Sanjay Leela Bhansali once again in Bajirao Mastani. How was the experience?
Sanjay Sir gave me my first break in Devdas and here I am, singing for Bajirao Mastani. His passion for cinema is still the same. When he teaches you the song, he gives references of veteran singers like Lataji (Mangeshkar). The track Deewani Mastani is a tribute to Mughal-e-Azam and he has also shot the song the way Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya was picturised. When I sang the track, I never knew it was going to be on such a huge scale.
Tell us about Pinga and Deewani Mastani.
Pinga was recorded before Deewani Mastani. The song has Marathi flavour and yet retains the commercial value - a person from any part of the world can relate to the track. Everything including the composition and choreography is amazing. Both Deepika (Padukone) and Priyanka (Chopra) look ravishing.
I was unwell during the recording of Deewani Mastani. Work was on halt only because the song was not ready. Sometimes, the pressure works in your favour and Sanjay Sir's energy was so good that I could sing the song easily.
You recently worked with Muzaffar Ali and Ustad Shafqat Ali for Jaanisaar, which did not get a good response. Did that bother you as an artiste?
I knew that it won't work as the music was niche and meant for people who could understand the nuances of classical music. I wish, as a generation, we were a little more open to classical music. The younger generation today perceives classical music as boring and serious, this makes me very sad. We are trying to constantly ape someone's music which is cool, instead of creating our own music.
You've cut down on the number of songs you record. Is that a result of your tiff with a music company?
See, royalties is an issue that happened and got resolved. But the music fraternity got divided big time because of this. This makes me sad - I feel artistes should stay on the same page.
You found yourself in the middle of a controversy when celebrated singer Chitra said composers in the Malayalam music industry prefer you over Malayali singers. Your comment?
I don't think she would have said something like that because I know her too well. I respect her a lot. Even today, when I get any award, she is the first one to congratulate me. But yes, I understand that there could be problems from a section of the singers. I hear about it very often, but that doesn't hurt me. I enjoy singing in other languages more than in Hindi. The songs in Malayalam are richer than the ones in Hindi. So, I will not stop doing that for anything.
You've also mentioned how technological innovation has deteriorated the quality of music...
I think technology has killed the organic way of making songs. The good thing is, technology helps you create many complex things without spending too much of money. But in the whole process, mediocrity also creeps in. Somewhere down the line, live musicians have also lost jobs because most of the songs are program-based. We don't have a second generation who knows to play a violin. So, the art is dying.
Today, you've reached a stage where many singers imitate you. Do you see it as a compliment?
I take it very positively if someone is actually influenced by my style of singing. As long as this school of singing is promoted, it's good for Indian music. I know the ones who sound like me and they are beautiful singers.
In 2010, Ohio declared June 26 as Shreya Ghoshal Day. What do you have to say about that?
That was a wonderful feeling! I still remember, just before the concert in Ohio, the Governor came on stage and declared it as Shreya Ghoshal Day. It was a great feeling to be honoured in a foreign land. It's a good feeling to be representing Indian music abroad and being recognised by another culture.
Many of your contemporaries are trying their hand at acting. Have you ever considered it?
I'm happy if someone gets a sense of satisfaction from acting. Mujh mein woh keeda nahi hai. I am not ready for acting. But again, never say never. If something falls in place, then I could give it a shot. There have been people who have come up with interesting concepts, but I've been shy about it and said no.
How do you spend your free time?
Free time is a luxury. I love sleeping like everyone else. I love reading books, watching movies - especially animation films. If I have the time, I walk into the kitchen and experiment a bit with cooking. I also plan for vacations, which I never take (laughs).
Lastly, you started your career very early. Do you regret having missed out on your childhood?
I was very focussed professionally when the other kids were still watching movies and going out with friends. I had to prepare for my school, then go for recordings; riyaaz kept me busy all day. My school was orthodox where music was not encouraged. So, my teachers were not really happy about me bunking school. But I feel very privileged - I may have missed out on a few moments of childhood, but what I got today is much bigger than those moments.
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