I Al­most Fainted When I Came To Know That Bad­tameez Dil Had Ran­bir And Deepika In It!

Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY - Words SHAR­BANI MUKHER­JEE

She def­i­nitely knows to set the stage on fire with her mes­mer­iz­ing voice. Be it play­back or live con­certs, SHEFALI AL­VAREZ rules the charts, and, how! From Sub­ha­ho­ne­nade to Par­ty­on­my­mind, TuMera Hero and OGu­jariya, her songs have be­come party an­thems. Read on to know this fab­u­lous songstresses views on life, work, ca­reer, con­certs and more…

How did you get your first break in Bol­ly­wood?

I have been pro­fes­sion­ally singing with my fa­ther Joe Alvares since I was about 15 and I also had my own rock band in col­lege. My first com­mer­cial song was ac­tu­ally a Tel­ugu num­ber for San­deep Chowta called Mama mia from the film Salem. This is where I met Sunny MD, who was work­ing with San­deep Chowta and a cou­ple of months later, Sunny called me and I got my first break through him while he was work­ing with Pri­tam dada. They were look­ing for western sound­ing voices and I got a call and I thought that I should try it out. My first song was Yeh dil hai nakhre­wala from Mad­hur Bhan­darkar’s Dil Toh Bac­cha Hai Ji. I’m re­ally happy to have met Sunny who’s been in­stru­men­tal in putting my voice out there. And it has surely been a fab­u­lous ride so far!

What has been your con­stant source of mo­ti­va­tion?

Mu­sic is my mo­ti­va­tion - the ef­fect of mu­sic on a per­son’s mind is tremen­dous. In the an­cient times the Egyp­tians used sound waves as a form of heal­ing. Mu­sic can heal, touch your heart, open up your emo­tions and make you in­cred­i­bly happy. The fact that I en­joy singing and be­ing on stage and so the ef­fect of my mu­sic on the au­di­ence has been my mo­ti­va­tion. I love what I do and I want to keep on do­ing it for­ever.

You have worked with some of the most notable mu­sic com­posers, could you please share your ex­pe­ri­ence.

I have worked a lot with Pri­tam dada which has been a con­stant source of learn­ing and fun. He has such amaz­ing ideas that it’s a plea­sure to sing for him. He is con­stantly push­ing bound­aries and chang­ing the sound of Bol­ly­wood mu­sic. I have worked with VishalShekhar on a song called Gu­laabi aankhen which was in Stu­dent Of The Year and that was ex­cit­ing. We re­worked the song in a full on western Hip hop feel, which was amaz­ing to sing. Adding a few more names to the list, I’ve also worked with Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhat­tacharya and sung for Sachin-Ji­gar. All of them are such won­der­ful peo­ple with so many new ideas and all in all, this has been so much learn­ing for me!

Which is your most favourite mu­sic genre?

I can’t pick just one! My fa­vorite gen­res of mu­sic are Elec­tronic, Jazz, Pop and blues, and Sufi mu­sic.

How has your mu­si­cal jour­ney been so far?

My mu­si­cal jour­ney be­gan at three and I’m 34 now. I’d say it’s been 30 in­cred­i­ble years of beau­ti­ful sounds. Hail­ing from a mu­si­cal fam­ily as a three year old, I was ex­posed to rock bands re­hears­ing in my house that’s when my fas­ci­na­tion for singing be­gan. As this early ex­po­sure to mu­sic pro­gressed, I sang for a few chil­dren’s al­bums and some jin­gles with the leg­endary Louis Banks. I also had the op­por­tu­nity to train un­der Celia Lobo for about nine years in western mu­sic. With these years of ini­tial train­ing and op­por­tu­ni­ties I was part of an all-girl rock band and also sang in my dad’s jazz band as a fe­male vo­cal­ist. In col­lege I had my own rock band and we per­formed at var­i­ous clubs and venues all over the coun­try and that was when I was in my early twen­ties. This is when Bol­ly­wood mu­sic and pro­duc­ers started ex­plor­ing western sounds and fu­sion and my singing got no­ticed and I got my first break.

Share a mem­o­rable anec­dote about a star or a story be­hind any of your songs.

This song Bad­tameez dil which I sang with Benny Dayal, when I found out that Ran­bir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone were in it, I al­most fainted! I love Ran­bir!

If not a singer, what would Shefali Al­varez be?

I love what I do and want to keep on do­ing it for­ever.”

An artist or a chef. When I’m not singing, I’m either draw­ing as a hobby or cook­ing for my fam­ily and friends. My art is in­spired by my fas­ci­na­tion of the Mayan cul­ture and var­i­ous in­dige­nous art forms of peo­ple across the globe. And as a

cook, I love bak­ing, so a large part of the menu of our Jun­gle Lodge con­sists of deserts which have been cu­rated by me.

Com­pe­ti­tion in the mu­sic in­dus­try is grow­ing day by day. What are your thoughts on that?

I guess there is com­pe­ti­tion in every thing one does. I re­ally feel that you have to keep do­ing what you love and en­joy it and keep get­ting bet­ter at it. You have to find your niche in what­ever you do, that’s what dif­fer­en­ti­ates your voice from oth­ers.

You have sung for many well­known faces in Bol­ly­wood, with whom was your best ex­pe­ri­ence?

I loved singing O Gu­jaria from Queen for Kan­gana Ranaut and it is also one of my most fa­vorite songs. Oh, also Subha hone na de, which I sang with Mika Singh for Desi Boyz.

...Be­cause mu­si­cians work be­hind the screen, they don’t get as much ap­pre­ci­a­tion as stars, what are your thoughts on that?

Well, the au­di­ence is grow­ing and chang­ing and I think that they un­der­stand what a huge part mu­sic has to play in films. And that mu­sic di­rec­tors cre­ate these songs to which we lend our voices. Each in­dus­try has its dy­nam­ics and this is how Bol­ly­wood is, where the singers and mu­si­cians are play­backs and the stars and ac­tors are fo­cused on play­ing their part. I feel that there is im­mense recog­ni­tion of tal­ented di­rec­tors, com­posers, mu­si­cians and vo­cal­ists and we get to show­case our tal­ent live on the stage.

Which is the song that you’ve sung that is the clos­est to your heart?

It’s Mo­hab­bat buri bi­mari from Bom­bay Vel­vet.

What is your take on the ac­tors who are try­ing their hands in singing? Isn’t that giv­ing rise to some tough com­pe­ti­tion?

I think we have such a hu­mon­gous mar­ket that there is space for every­one. Ab the ques­tion is that can one ac­tu­ally sing or are they just be­com­ing pup­pets in a stu­dio with the nu­mer­ous voice mo­du­la­tion tools? But on the flip side, some of the ac­tors sing pretty well.

What do you en­joy more - con­certs or play­back singing?

I love the stage and live con­certs. I love the en­ergy of the peo­ple and I think I was born for this. Live shows are def­i­nitely more re­ward­ing be­cause we sing in our own avatar and get rec­og­nized di­rectly for our tal­ent and skills.

What, ac­cord­ing to you, is the best and the worst part about the mu­sic in­dus­try?

The best part of the mu­sic in­dus­try are the mu­si­cians with­out whom we can­not cre­ate the sounds we want. Like for me, my band is a huge part of my mu­sic world, they cre­ate the mu­sic to which I sing. I don’t know about the worst part but the cor­po­ra­ti­za­tion of mu­sic is maybe the worst part. Mu­sic is so pure that it can tran­scend ev­ery­thing.

If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be?

I’m ac­tu­ally happy be­ing me a woman, mother, singer, daugh­ter, sis­ter and a wife. I don’t think I want to change any­thing. Life is love.

The cor­po­ra­ti­za­tion of mu­sic is maybe the worst part of the mu­sic in­dus­try.”

Do you fol­low a regime to main­tain the flex­i­bil­ity of your vo­cal chords?

I just sing all the time to my daugh­ter Al­izeh I guess keep ex­er­cis­ing one’s vo­cals chords is the trick. I do a few vo­cal ex­er­cises and breath­ing tech­niques which re­ally help.

What is your big­gest strength and weak­ness?

My big­gest strength I think is my abil­ity to main­tain a bal­ance be­tween be­ing a mommy and a per­former, and my weak­ness is choco­late I think.

Which is your per­sonal fave song that you’ve sung?

I think all of them have been spe­cial. All my songs are so dif­fer­ent but Aam hin­dus­tani, Shut up and Mo­hab­bat buri bi­mari from Bom­bay Vel­vet are my fa­vorites be­cause they’re so Jazz. And I’ve grown up learn­ing and singing western jazz. I also love Subha hone na de which I sang with Mika Singh I didn’t re­alise the po­ten­tial of the song it com­pletely shocked me when it be­came a rage.

You’re mar­ried to Aly Rashid. How easy or tough has it been to bal­ance your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life?

It is both easy and tough. But I have an ab­so­lutely bril­liant part­ner who is so sup­port­ive of ev­ery­thing that I do. We live in a for­est in Mad­hya Pradesh at Reni Pani jun­gle lodge so it’s a trek for me each time when I go for work. But I love my life, we are a grow­ing fam­ily and I think it’s im­por­tant to main­tain a bal­ance be­tween ca­reer and fam­ily. We have a daugh­ter and we’re on our way to be­com­ing par­ents again so some­times we choose life over ca­reer and other times ca­reer over life. Main­tain­ing a bal­ance is the key.

You have to find your niche in what­ever you do, that’s what dif­fer­en­ci­ates your voice from oth­ers.”

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