Striking the right chord

"I would rather wait for my time to come... "  

A DEAD duck. That is precisely what Mohini Singh was called on her very first audition test for Bollywood. That the person passing the remark was a top actress did not make it any easier. In the three years that followed, she recorded just three songs -- all of them chart toppers.

In three short years, Mohini has shown traits of both her Brazilian spirit and Punjabi gut -- making it to the list of almost all the top music directors of the Hindi film industry.

She may have spent most of her childhood in the land of sand and sun, swaying to the sensuous rhythm of Salsa and perfecting the right way to sing Jazz and Blues, but the Indian roots were too strong to get ignored.

Born to a Brazilian mother and Punjabi father, Mohini says she grew up listening to at least four different languages. "Spanish from my mother, Punjabi from my father and Bengali from my grandmother. It helped me maintain a closeness with my roots, which are very strong,'' she says.

Her parents may still not approve of the profession that she has chosen for herself, but it was with her father's transfer to Kolkata as part of his Indian Foreign Service (IFS) postings that her real romance with India began.

``It all started with me participating in a couple of college contests. During one of the shows, the main performer failed to turn up and they asked me fill in. I was very nervous in the beginning but by the third song really I knew I was more than prepared to go for it,'' she says.

In the Capital to perform for hotel Le Meridien as part of their "You are the voice'' contest for the new year's celebrations, the singer considers Delhi special and claims that she has managed to strike a chord with the Northern belt of the country. ``I knew the minute I wanted to go professional that it had to be Mumbai. It was difficult, but the city has taught me patience, dedication and most of all the importance of hard work. Delhi is special because I bond with the audience,'' she says. Having started work with jingles on radio, the singer finally found her place with her very first song "Ishq Chandi Hai'' for Sushmita Sen in "Biwi No. 1'' and followed it up with "Excuse'' in N. Chandra's "Style'' and the much popular "Akhiyon se goli maren'' with Jaspinder Narula and Sonu Nigam.

With Latino gaining popularity in India, Singh is looking forward to her first album - "Solwaan Salsa'' -- that she describes as "Latin fusion with Indian rhythm''. "The album will have Hindi lyrics and Latino beats. There are just three songs left and I am hoping to release it soon,'' she says.

``What we need right now are performers. You can't go and perform at a disco thinking youngsters are going to wait forever.

They come their to have fun and you have to give it to them the way they want it,'' the singer believes.

The future looks bright too, with her future projects including Ram Gopal Varma's next "Bhooth'' where she sings for Urmila Matondkar, N. Chandra's "Excuse me'', an untitled film for Rahman and two of Nadeem Sharavan's films.

Mohini may be more than open in accepting that she may not fit into the sweet, romantic voice needed for most heroines, but insists that she does not mind getting into the item number mould either. "The truth is these numbers get you instant popularity with Indians living abroad. And moreover, I am not in a hurry, and would rather wait for my time to come.''

Photo: Anu Pushkarna

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