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“I don’t take awards seriously, but this one is special”

Go-getter:Monali Thakur says she wants to express herselfas an artiste in every creative form possible.  

Monali Thakur, shot to fame with ‘ Zara zara ’ from Race in 2008. She sang two songs in the album, which instantly became favourite dance numbers. But it is ‘ Moh moh ke dhaage ’ from Dum Laga Ke Haisha , an Anu Malik semi-classical composition, that recently won her the National Award for Best Playback Singer (Female).

The Bengali beauty who has also acted in a few Bengali and Hindi movies, is busy writing and composing songs for her singles, where she will also be seen flaunting her dance skills. In a telephonic interview, she spoke about her career, industry stereotypes, indie music scene and more. Excerpts:

So, how does it feel to win the National Award?

(Laughs) Awesome! But honestly I think I need time to believe it, especially because I never thought of it nor did I expect it. My phone was on flight mode and once I switched it on, billions of messages were pouring in. I thought I probably got a big film offer, or I am getting married. A filmmaker friend of mine from Bengal then called and gave me the news.

For a moment I was silent and then I started jumping around. I called my mother at home, who was equally overwhelmed.

You started your Hindi film career with pop numbers like ‘ Khwab Dekhe Jhuthe Muthe ’ and then surprised music lovers with melodious ‘ Sawaar Loon ’. Do you think that helped music directors notice your versatility?

It is unfortunate that, as you know, the industry stereotypes people. And especially for women, there is not much scope in film music to experiment. Because music in the movies is created according to the script and these days even the female lines are sung by male singers.

But mine, fortunately, is a different story. I started getting offers for similar kind of songs — songs that conveyed no meaning — so I consciously refused them although I was not earning enough.

Then I met Amit Trivedi, who offered me ‘ Aga Bai ’ for Aiyyaa . He liked my work and then ‘ Sawaar Loon ’ happened. Amit knew I was trained in Hindustani classical (Patiala gharana). So, it certainly helped people notice the other side of me, that I can even sing a thumri.

You are also an actor. Your last big ticket venture ‘ Lakshmi ’ may not have got rave reviews, but you were mostly appreciated. You had acted as a child artist in Bengali soap opera, Aalokito ek Indu . So are we going to see you more on screen now?

[Laughs] Oh gosh! Don’t tell me you have watched [ Aalokito ek Indu ].

Well, I like to think of myself as an entertainer. You meet creative minds as you move ahead in life. I met a few people who saw that I was interested and can act so that’s how it all started. I enjoy filmmaking and I want to express myself as an artiste in every creative form possible.

So yeah, sure, why not?

Given that you had started acting and singing almost simultaneously, as a child, what did you want to become?

I always wanted to become a musician.

At the age of six, I had my first song recorded with HMV. So, I was clear that in order to reach maximum people I need to become a playback singer because sadly only film music gives you that kind of recognition.

But now I want to do different things, from dancing and composing to writing songs: anything that interests me.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Definitely family. Baba [her father, Shakti Thakur] himself being a professional singer and even Maa, who is also a singer, have always been a great inspiration. Other than that I have also been greatly influenced by music of the West. I would listen to indie music, blue, pop rock, basically anything that appealed to me. It will be unfair to just name one, there are many.

What is your take on the present indie music scene in India?

Not much is happening in the indie scene and the reason is that there is not much support from big banners. If producers start taking initiative in individual projects, things will improve.

I don’t think what MTV is doing is enough. I mean, sure it is giving a platform to showcase one’s talent, but we need to push harder to reach the level where we have singing divas and superstars in the country because we have so much talent.

What are your future projects?

I am working on my album. In film music, ‘ Cham cham ’ from the Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor-starrer Baaghi has been released and there are a couple of other songs that are yet to release. But I don’t want to name any until they are out.

I had finished shooting for Mango , which is yet to be released. Last Christmas. a short film, Jangle bells , was released.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 5:20:31 AM |

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