Chatline Multi-faceted Vasundhara Das tells SHAILAJA TRIPATHI TANEJA that music remains her ultimate passion
Films in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, playback singing, music band, concert tours around the world and even a reality show, actor-singer Vasundhara Das has done it all. The talented singer has rendered the romantic “Kahin to Hogi” with singer Rashid Ali, in “Jaane Tu Ya Na Jaane Na”. “I am exploring different things. I am being little more introspective. I am thinking a lot. Toying with various ideas. There is lot happening but I can’t talk about it now,” says Vasundhara, sitting in the music studio in Kumara Park that she started with percussionist Roberto Narain.
Vasundhara is part of the music band “Arya” with Narain and part of Drumjam which organises rhythm-based events for the corporate sector with the aim of boosting moraleand reducing stress. “We have got 1,000 drums of different sizes which have travelled countries and cities. It is a business venture for me, but whatever I do, will always be associated with music. If I have to choose between a film and a concert tour, I will take up the latter. There is nothing as thrilling as a live performance. Stage is my life.”
Going down memory lane, Vasundhara says: “I went for the audition of ‘Hey Ram’ just to find out how screen tests happen. After the test, Kamal introduced me to the violinist L. Subramaniam saying: ‘Meet my new heroine’. I was a complete tomboy. I had never worn a salwar kameez and in the film, my character Mythili had to wear heavy Kanjeevaram saris. But I couldn’t have performed the way I did if the role wasn’t written like that,” says the Hebbar Iyengar girl who was born and brought up in Malleshwaram.She graduated from Mount Carmel College.
Her first album was “Meri Jaan” with Magnasound comprised myriad flavours like Arabic, Latin soft ballad and even Bhangra. And while working on this album, Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” came along where her feisty Aditi earned her plaudits. On the music front, her debut song “Shakalaka Baby” had everyone grooving and got her the Filmfare Award.
As an actor, she branched out to regional cinema with films like “Citizen” opposite Ajith in Tamil, “Ravana Prabhu” with Mohan Lal in Malayalam and “Lankesh Patrike” in Kannada. “Kamal told me not to be hasty in accepting too many roles,” recalls Vasundhara. “In ‘Ravana Prabhu’ I played a free-spirited young doctor in this modern-day interpretation of Ramayana. “I have gained significant experiences from singing and acting in different genres of cinema,” says Vasundhara, when reminded about the last couple of films, “Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana”, “Film Star”, “Ek Dastak” and “Pathar Bezubaan” which sank box office without a trace. “The reason for doing ‘Kudiyon…’ was to meet Rekha. We got along dangerously well,” she says.
As a singer, Vasundhara has sung for movies like “Lagaan” “Aks”, “Salaam Namaste”, “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom”, and “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna” and also sung in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayali, Marathi and French. Vasundhara also collaborated with A.R. Rahman for “Global Rhythms”, a university programme at Ohio.
Not many know of Vasundhara’s deep passion for Spanish music. She got hooked on to the genre and learnt Spanish to understand the music. “I came across two musicians from Columbia. We did small collaborations together and that’s how I got interested. Then I found myself a Spanish teacher who introduced me to Flamenco. She moved to Spain and I went to meet her. Together we went to Grenada, an old historical town on a hill inhabited by gypsies living in caves. We saw them perform live in those caves overwhelmed with their passion for dance and music. I found a school and studied the rhythms did a course in vocals. I keep returning to it to learn more and more,” says Vasundhara, who even sang a Spanish song in a concert in Kerala. The actor-singer has tried her hand at a reality show “Mission Ustad” in which she was paired with Mohit Chauhan of “Silk Route”. “There were no boundaries of genres. Music was meant to serve a higher purpose and address issues. There were so many things I have been wanting to say. It also gave me an opportunity to compose and write.”
Of the journey so far, the light-eyed chanteuse says: “I value my voice. In the past, I have stood up and said no to particular things I didn’t like. When I do playback for a song, I ask myself is it worth my being there? I have always lived life on my own terms. I am a wanderer, a vagabond and my journey is music.”