Think like Beyonce and sing like Shakira!

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CHAT Singer Tanvi Shah says music director A.R. Rahman constantly spurs her to experiment

Rooted to musicTanvi Shah
Rooted to musicTanvi Shah

TThe past continues to entice with sparklers — such as a Grammy triumph. But Tanvi Shah has moved on. The singer who shared the Grammy with A.R. Rahman and Gulzar for the Spanish lyrics of ‘Jai Ho’ firmly focusses on what’s ahead. “One has to move ahead. These are like a crown that someone else will get a year later,” says Tanvi about awards. Instead, she prefers to treasure the priceless eye-opening moments music has thrown open.

The surprise element

For Tanvi, music in itself has been a surprise. With hardly any formal training, she was scooped into another orbit when Rahman plucked out her voice from clutter. He gave it wings and tailored it to songs like ‘Fanaa’ ( Yuva ), ‘Pappu Can’t Dance’ ( Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na ), ‘Kedakkari’ ( Ravanan ) and ‘Magudi, Magudi’ ( Kadal ), among a host of others.

“When God throws things at you, you should not disrespect it,” says Tanvi. She knows life will not be the same with a Grammy and a BMI in her kitty. “Now I want to learn something new every day. These awards have grounded me, shown me this is what I wanted to do and asked me how I was going to take it forward,” she says.

And she takes it forward through small joys. She talks about the random track from an unpretentious music session that made a kid with autism sleep through the night. For her musical self, there are Rahman and Yuvan Shankar Raja to doggedly throw challenges. Rahman, she says, constantly tests her. “He would tell me ‘Think like Beyonce and sing like Shakira’,” she says. Such a brief might set off a war in her head, but it also spurs her to experiment, to delve deep to bring out four different voices and as many ways of singing.

Apart from her musical skills, composers delight in her strength as a lyricist, especially in foreign languages. If it was Spanish in Slumdog Millionaire , it was Croatian in Rockstar . “I can save my life in Spanish,” she jokes. A take away from her years in the U.S. studying ceramics with multi-cultural friends meant a working knowledge of Spanish. The ‘Jai Ho’ experience was about simple words, but right pronunciation, she says.

Varied interests

Her love for languages aside, Tanvi also juggles music with a career as a creative designer.

She eagerly shows off her new work space on her phone. Her work desk has a table top resting on a bicycle and tea coasters turned into pen holders. She is game for adventure sports too. Multiple interests, though, are taking a toll, with sleep often the casualty.

Glitches aside, Tanvi is set to take off discovering music and herself. “I am doing a few projects. In one, I am collaborating with Jeremy Hawkins and with David Batteau in another. I am also collaborating with a few people from Israel and may even sing in Hebrew.”


Rahman’s tests help her delve deep to bring out four different voices and

as many ways of singing




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