Pop stars come and go, but Rini Mukkath takes a look at a few women who have managed to make it big in the otherwise dormant Indian pop music scene.
In the past three decades, there has been many a female pop singer in India trying their luck at being an independent artist. Turn on your radio and chances are you will listen to at least one of them crooning to the sounds of not their own compositions but of some of the greats in the movie-music industry today.
“Independent music” in India is yet to find its place and while many female singers have created credible music and released albums, only a few can hold a show on their own. ‘Pop music' is a wide term, but most will agree that it's short for ‘popular'. As a genre it is very eclectic at best, often combining different styles of music like rock and country. Melodic tunes, they are songs written to be appreciated by the listener on-the-go.
The original divas
While Madonna is considered the queen of pop the world over, India has seen a few talented female artists too. Asha Bhosle made pop music accessible to a wider range of listeners through her numbers in Hindi films. Best known for her unique voice that infuses energy into any song she renders, she has also collaborated with several international artists and even has a song named after her by the British alternative rock band Cornershop called ‘Brimful of Asha'. When I met her in Mumbai last year, I heard her quip about how she has to keep up with the new faces on the music scene. With a voice like hers does she need to try?
It's not just about power-packed performances with this one, huge bindis teamed with beautiful silk sarees that have Bengali alphabets, Usha Uthup, is perhaps the most admired pop diva in the country. She was once thrown out of music class because she didn't fit in with a voice like hers. With over three decades of experience, she still sounds vivacious in numbers like Darling from “7 Khoon Maaf”.
Remember humming along to Made in India in the 1990's? Alisha Chinai was not just a pretty face; she burst onto the music scene as a storehouse of talent oozing of style and panache. Alisha's initial albums include “Jadoo”, “Baby Doll”, “Aaah Alisha” and “Made in India”. Anaida, like Chinai, was famous for her beautiful voice and personality, and first album “Love today hai nahi asaan” was quite popular when it was released. When Walt Disney came calling to Indian shores, they picked her to sing with Baba Sehgal to render a Hindi version of Hakuna Matata from their animation movie “The Lion King”.
Let's not forget pop girl bands, where the girls look stunning, have coordinated wardrobes and sing catchy numbers in chorus. In 2002, Channel V gave us Viva, an Indian pop girl group, and while the original five members were soon forgotten. Anushka Manchanda, the most eccentric of the lot went on to work as a VJ for Channel V and moved to singing in movies. Fashion icon and sensual singer, Sophie Choudhry, also moved to Mumbai from London and launched as a pop singer with her all-girl band Sansara with a song which Sophie herself wrote called Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai. Also, in 2003, she released her first remix album “Sophie & Dr. Love”. The album was a chart-topper and broke records in the U.K Asian Pop Charts.
Posing a double threat, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra can not only act but also croon beautifully. She is known to train on the sets of her movies and has already signed a recording agreement with Universal Music and Desi Hits. Her first album should release sometime this year and will have be a mix of upbeat numbers, R&B and a few ballads. This could perhaps be a first of many…