Thursday, August 16, 2018

Bald and beautiful Anupam Kher speaks about the entertaining Toilet: Ek Prem Katha

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By ANAND PILLAI

Although difficult to describe him in a few words, his is a story where you can say with great authority that if he can make it, then in life “Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai” (anything is possible).
He is someone who made it big in Bollywood on his own – by sheer merit, grit, and never-say-die attitude. The last trait, in fact, has stood him in good stead, especially during the bad times – be it the initial rejections or for that matter, overcoming the petrifying facial paralysis episode. This small-town Shimla lad, full of dreams, had to be famous given what he accomplished against the odds. Neither he had any filmy connections nor had the conventional good looks to get a break in Bollywood. But he persisted. And his day came with Mahesh Bhatt’s classic Saaransh in the early 1980s and the rest, as they say, is history. Yes, you guessed it right. We are talking about the bald and beautiful Anupam Kher. Well, he may be bald, but he also brought beauty to baldness. His boldness and his body of work is what makes him beautiful. A veteran of more than 500 films, including Daddy, Karma, Bend It Like Beckham, and Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi, to name a few, today the 62-year-old thespian is regarded as a walking dictionary on acting, the craft that he nurtured over the years which helped him to carve a niche for himself in the industry.
Not only that, this multi-faceted personality is a past master at reinventing himself – be it hosting talk shows on TV or running acting schools or giving motivational speeches, you name it, he is there and everywhere.
In a crowd Anupam Kher stands out – because he is out-standing. In an exclusive one-on-one, as part of the promotions for his latest film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, the Padma Bhushan awardee opened up to Asian Style at The Bentley, London.

The film has superstar Akshay Kumar and the inspiring Bhumi Pednekar in the lead.
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, co-produced by Akshay Kumar and the talented Neeraj Pandey, is a satirical and light-hearted take on open defecation in India, and the fundamental need to provide households across the nation with a functioning toilet. The movie, based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, is presented by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, KriArj Entertainment and Neeraj Pandey, in association with Plan C Studios and Cape of Good Films LLP. The film, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, is set for release on August 11, 2017.

Anand: We last saw you in the film Naam Shabana in 2015, also a Neeraj Pandey-produced film and featuring Akshay, of whom it’s your 20th film. Now your winning team is back with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Tell us more about your relationship with Akshay and Neeraj.

Anupam Kher: I did Neeraj’s film A Wednesday. I have done all his films – Special 26, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Baby. I am also part of Aiyaary now. It’s a great relationship. I have great respect for him for the kind of films he makes, for the kind of writer that he is, for the kind of director he is. With Akshay this is my 21st film. We have grown together. Even though he is younger to me, I am so proud of his growth as a person and as an actor. It is very very rare in today’s time to see such a transformation.

The film tackles the issue of defecation in India. Do you think the film can make a difference on this issue?

Oh yes, absolutely. I think it does make a difference. When the prime minister (Narendra Modi) spoke about cleanliness, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, it had yielded results, sometimes not necessarily in statistics as much as in awareness. Today you throw a trash can on the road, you will see five people giving you a dirty look – so that makes a difference. Also, this film will make a difference because it’s done by Akshay Kumar and is being made on a popular format with all the comedy and love story in it. When Akshay does a film on such a subject it reaches millions of people. Already 20 million people have seen the trailer of this film.

What more can you tell us about your role in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha?
I play Bhumi Pednekar’s grandfather. He is the only person who is a little educated in the village. There’s a contrast between my character and Akshay Kumar’s father’s character. Akshay’s father’s character is very very conservative and religious.

One of the dialogues in the film has  become very popular: “If you change NOTHING, Nothing will change.” How much do you identify with this sentence?

That dialogue was not in the original script. I told the writers that since my character is that of an educated guy, he should speak English also. Every scene of mine has an English dialogue. And those English dialogues are basically proverbs and quotations. I always quote quotations. This is a quotation which is very relevant, not only to the country or to the society but to your own self. That is if you don’t change, if you change nothing, nothing will change about yourself also.

Do you feel more movies should be made to tackle social issues?

It’s happening. Recently there was Pink. Khosla Ka Ghosla too was one such film. But that was on a different level – land grabbing, etc. Real India lives in smaller towns. I have co-produced a film called Ranchi Diaries. And that’s about small town place, the problems over there and the dreams of this younger generation. And there is one girl played by Soundarya Sharma and four boys Taaha, Himansh and other people. So today you can think of these subjects. You can make them commercially viable also. I am very happy about it.

There is some controversy doing rounds about a producer duo from Rajasthan dragging the Toilet: Ek Prem Katha producers to court over copyright infringement. What’s your take on it?

Well, I don’t want to say that that person is not right. That he or she has to deal with the producers, etc. Today it’s important to know that, although I am not talking in this context or any context, people become known by bringing up something like this and the moment that happens the media also pick
up because for them that is news.

But I am sure the producer and director will have their own fight or battle with this person. As far as I am concerned I was given the script and I became part of this film based on that script.

Do you think such controversies help in the success of the film, especially just before the release?

I think a film like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha with Akshay Kumar being part of this film does not need a controversy to become popular. And maybe controversy helps the first day first show, but afterwards it’s the film that speaks. And it’s not a love story where you are releasing quietly a sort of MMS clip of the heroine, of a deleted scene, the heroine in a bikini or something like that – leading people to think that there must be something more than that in the film. This film is about women’s privacy being invaded because they have to go in the open to defecate and to relieve themselves. It’s so sad that for so many years we did not notice this. I am glad that this film has come now and it will reach a lot of people. I think people will go and watch it because a cause like “toilet” is related to it, not because there is a controversy.

They say a good artiste is always a good human being. Do you endorse that?

Well, it helps if you are a good human being. Because at the end of it you are first a human being then an artiste, then a journalist, then a dentist, then a carpenter. It’s always good to be a good human being. You see the good side of characters also. Even if it’s a bad character, you have to be a good person to understand how well to play that. So I believe in the goodness. I believe in being a good human being. But at the end of the day it’s a craft. How well you use that craft has nothing to do with what kind of person are you. So you can be a third-rate person, yet play a good man very easily. So it’s not necessary, but I believe in the theory of goodness.

There are many films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha that delivers a message. Do you not think some audiences may not want to be preached and just entertained?

This is an entertaining film. The message is inherent. The message has already reached the audiences in the form of its title Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. And it’s a love story. In a love story usually there is a boy and a girl. They love each other. The villain walks in or the father is rich, or the other parents are not rich. In this film the problem is, after the love affair and after the couple get married, the boy’s home does not have a toilet. And the story is about how the boy wins over the girl. Why Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge became a cult film because the boy says to the girl that “No, I will only take you with me if your father agrees.” And in this film the girl says, “I will come back to your house only if there’s a toilet.”  It’s a very very genuine demand.

There is lot of talk about nepotism in the film world. What’s your take on it? I know you are an exception who made it big without any support.  

No, there are a lot of people who are an exception. And nepotism is there. Let’s just face that. And it should be there. Why not people whose parents are in films or in this profession help them? But that does not mean those who don’t have such relatives don’t make it. From Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar to Anupam Kher to Madhuri Dixit to Sridevi – they didn’t have any godfathers. They made it on their own. I think this debate should end. I think Kangana Ranaut is a fabulous actress. She has come from a small town and she has made it very big on her own and I salute her courage.

You have done more than 500 films till date. Any dream role that you want to do?

You can ask this question after 30 years. It’s too early to ask that question.

 

Interview: Uncle-nephew duo Anil and Arjun Kapoor’s real-life role get reel in British Punjabi family entertainer Mubarakan

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By ANAND PILLAI

The first thing that catches your eye when you look at him is his big eyes and the size of the man. He is a big guy. The size perhaps may belie the vision he has set for himself. Apparently, he has set his sights on success with such tremendous focus that he sees only the eye of the bird, just like Arjun (of Mahabharata). It’s a sheer coincidence that we are talking about a person having the same name as the ace archer of the great Indian epic. Yes, you got that right. We are talking about Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor.

He may have the best surname in Bollywood, his father Boney Kapoor may be a big producer, Arjun might have had initially the advantage of being a star kid, but that was long ago. Since his debut in Ishaqzaade in 2012, this well-read actor has come a long way, carving a niche for himself in the industry with hits like 2 States, Gunday and Ki & Ka. Undeterred by a few flops in between, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps to make a mark for himself in the industry. His “never give up” and “bounce-back” attitude has made him one of the most saleable actors in Bollywood today. He is looking forward to his next release – the much-talked about romantic comedy Mubarakan (Congratulations).

The movie, directed by the No Entry and Singh is King fame Anees Bazmee, also stars Arjun’s uncle Anil Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Athiya Shetty and Neha Sharma. For the first-time superstar Anil Kapoor is teaming up with his nephew Arjun Kapoor. Produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions, Ashwin Varde and Murad Khetani’s Cine1 Studios, the film will hit theatres on July 28.

Mubarakan, shot mainly in London, centres around a Punjabi migrant family living in the UK. Both Anil and Arjun will be seen sporting turbans in the movie. Arjun plays a double role in it. For the promotion of the film, the soft and gentle, yet articulate actor got candid in an exclusive telephonic interview to Asian Style Magazine on July 11.  

Anand: More than 80% of the film is shot in London. What was the experience like shooting in London?

Arjun Kapoor: Well, it’s the first time I have shot in London as an actor. We shot in the winter. It was amazing. I think it helped the film – the way it looks. The whole beauty of shooting in London in that atmosphere has really enhanced the prospects. The enthusiastic crew and the local people there and the location – everything was great. I think anybody who shoots in England, it’s beautiful. I think we got very very lucky that it turned out to be an outstanding experience.

What is it that attracts Indian filmmakers to London?

I think it’s the relatability and diversity. Even though you have so many cosmopolitan cities across the world, London is one place where the Asian foothold remains very predominant even with the western influence. Somehow the story is relatable even though it is based abroad. For an Indian audience, I think the way London is looked at is almost like a home away from home. I think that’s the one connect London has always created. It never feels like foreign land even though it is a foreign land. It has all the elements of being a foreign country, but when you dive in a bit closer you realise the connection with the Asian community is very huge.

What message are you trying to convey through the film?

Well, it is about joint family, immigration, egos, fights and other issues. But eventually love is what is more important and having the humility to connect with family comes above everything else. That’s the most important message.

How was it working with your uncle Anil Kapoor? Were there any inhibitions?

Oh, that was absolutely fantastic. The excitement was there. There were no inhibitions. I somewhere knew that I had earned the chance to stand in the same frame as him, so I was quite excited about sharing screen space with him. Also, incidentally, in the film we are playing the role of Chacha (uncle) and Bhatija (nephew) that obviously created more excitement than apprehension.

You are playing a double role in Mubarakan. This is not the first time you are doing such a role. You have already played a double role in Aurangzeb. How different is this one?

Aurangzeb role was more about swapping one from the other and one pretending to be the other and there was a mistaken identity and trying to create that dynamic of two brothers who are kept apart. The Mubarakan one is about two brothers who are constantly together in the entire film. And it’s not about mistaken identity but two different characters who share screen space together at all times. In that sense, it is very very different.

How easy or difficult is it for you to play double role?

It’s definitely not easy. I can tell you that. It is difficult because of the complexity technology brings in as well as your performance and having a co-actor. Doing it for comedy is even tougher.

Speaking of comedy, how challenging was it to make people laugh?

Well, it was exciting and challenging. I have never done an out-and-out comedy. So, for me it was very exciting. I was like a child trying to do more and more and get better and better. I really enjoyed myself.

Tell me one funny side of yours which your fans are not aware of?

I am actually a party person. It’s difficult to pinpoint one incident.

Are there any British cast in the film?

Yes, of course. We have British cast in the film. They are through the film. That’s because we wanted to make sure everything looks real and authentic.

How was it working with them?

See the thing is with actors eventually you find a common ground and you end up connecting and affiliating with them because of the work you are doing and so it doesn’t feel very different. They just happened to be from England and that’s the only separation. When you are on set everybody becomes the same.

Most of the new generation Indian kids (be it Punjabis, Gujaratis, Malayalees, etc.) in Britain don’t know their mother tongue. They speak English fluently but not their own language. How important is for an individual to remain culturally rooted and stay connected with his original identity?

Well, I think if you are born and brought up outside India then it becomes difficult to hold on to Hindi if it is your mother tongue. In your growing stage English becomes your mother tongue. But, of course, it comes from what the parents feel is important, the parents may feel it’s not about the language but understanding the culture. I know a lot of people who struggle to speak Hindi but still understand the cultural importance of where they hail from. But any child that is born and brought up in an environment that is not Indian might not be able to pick up the language because Hindi is not an easy language. Even if you can understand and communicate just the basic of it – I think it’s enough. I don’t think your cultural rootedness is only about speaking Hindi. It comes from a wholesome 360-degree perspective. Obviously, it is appreciated if you can speak more than one language because that allows you to communicate with lot more people but I don’t think that is the only way of knowing how culturally rooted a person is. Eventually tolerance is very very important. Knowing the parents feel a certain way, appreciating and understanding the grandparents, the festivals, being part of the bigger picture for the family and not just for yourself, I think that is what creates a culturally rooted environment. You may be born and brought up in England, but if you can be open enough to adapt to the fact Diwali is important, so you must take out time for it and spend time at home with parents, then even if you don’t speak Hindi all the time, your parents and colleagues who are Indian will appreciate you regardless. Believe in the culture first. It’s not about speaking the language alone.

Do you speak Punjabi well?

I manage but not so much. I understand Punjabi but unfortunately, I am not very very fluent.

How was it working with director Anees Bazmee? What have you learned from him?

Firstly, he is a fantastic writer. He has been around for the last 40 years in the industry. He is truly a genius when it comes to the genre – entertaining people, making them smile and laugh is no joke. He does it so well. It’s been a big learning curve for me. He is so sorted as a director. He is fully charged, comfortable and excited. He was always ready to lend a helping hand.

I heard the music of RD Burman in the trailer. Why is it that RD Burman still sells today even after almost 25 years of his passing away?

Well, we used a bit of the Yamma Yamma… tune (from the yesteryear multi-starrer Shaan). It was our tribute to Pancham da (RD Burman). His music is evergreen and everlasting and will always survive the test of time.

What’s your message to our readers? Why should they go and watch Mubarakan?

This film is a family entertainment. From age 8 to 80 you can take all your family members to theatres. It’s a clean and simple film. It deals with all your emotions that you feel deeply in your core. If you have grown up watching all those Hindi entertainers, you will definitely enjoy this as well.

Stammering ‘Jagga Jasoos’ talks unfalteringly as maiden producer of exciting new adventure packed musical

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He’s the Bollywood heart-throb thousands of girls want to date. An actor par excellence with striking good looks whose unique ability to effortlessly pour himself into a character makes him one of the most sought-after actors in showbiz today. Be it the critically acclaimed Rocket Singh or the hugely successful Rockstar and Barfi, to name a few, it’s difficult to take your eyes off him when he is on screen. Moreover, he is an actor who can’t be conveniently pigeonholed. Such is his broad range of repertoire. Yes, we are talking about none other than Ranbir Kapoor, the Jagga Jasoos.

For Bollywood fans release of a Ranbir Kapoor film is always music to their ears. The icing on the cake this time is – the film itself is a musical.

Much to their delight, the long-awaited Disney and Pictureshuru Production’s Jagga Jasoos starring Ranbir Kapoor and the stunning Katrina Kaif will release this week (July 14). The musical adventure mystery, written and directed by the Barfi-maker Anurag Basu, will have Ranbir playing the role of a detective of sorts as he sets out on a hunt to find his missing father, with Kat’s character tagging along.

The musical comedy reportedly has 29 songs, all composed by the prolific Pritam. If Ranbir’s character in Barfi was mute, in Jagga Jasoos he stutters throughout the film. Interestingly, the only time when he would speak and express himself without a stutter is in the songs, all 29 of them.

With Jagga Jasoos actor Ranbir has added one more feather to his cap; he has debuted as a producer.

As part of the film’s promotion, the modest, yet confident actor spoke frankly about Jagga Jasoos and his experience as a co-producer in an exclusive telephonic interview with Asian Style Magazine.

By ANAND PILLAI

Anand: Jagga Jasoos has been delayed and as we know you have got some very exciting films at hand apart from Jagga Jasoos, so how did you manage to maintain the passion to complete this film and stay true to the film?

Ranbir: I think starting from the fact that I have believed in Anurag Basu’s vision. I really loved the idea he narrated to me three-and-a-half years ago and even though it took this long to make the film, you know he stayed true to his passion, he stayed true to his vision and his idea for the film. And just the core emotion that I felt when I heard the script, you know it remained in my mind and don’t really care about the time it’s taken to make the film. Of course, it’s hard, you lose patience, you get frustrated but eventually it’s the greater purpose and that’s to put out a good film. So I think all of us didn’t lose our patience and that’s only because of Anurag Basu. We all have immense love and respect for him. 

It’s your maiden co-production, what have you learned as a producer during the making of this film?

 Well, I think the first year I learned as a producer was that I won’t produce another film. It’s not my cup of tea. It’s not something that is my calling. I am very happy being an actor. I would love to direct a film. But I don’t think producing a film is something I enjoy. 

Where did the inspiration for your unique hairstyle in the film come from? It reminds me of Tintin. 

Well, I think a little inspiration came from there. But I think Dada (Anurag Basu) just wanted Jagga Jasoos to have a little bit of unique look to himself, something which is a bit strange, which is not normal. It’s the hairstyle his (Jagga Jasoos) father gives him before he goes missing and that’s why he maintains it all these years thinking that if his father sees him, he will at least recognise him by his hairstyle. You know there’s a nice logic in story behind that too and I was more than happy to don it.

In an interview director Anurag Basu has said that he has tried to make a feel-good film. In your view what do you think people will take away from the film?

Well, it’s a universal film. It’s a film that you would like to see with your entire family, your children will really enjoy it. There are certain values that he wants to address in this film. There’s a certain kind of entertainment, the visual effects are amazing, it’s a musical, it’s an adventure film, there is romance, there is comedy, there’s mystery. It’s like a different kind of masala film. 

I saw the trailer of the film. You stutter so well. Needless to say, it’s sheer talent. How did you master it?

Well, it was challenging, because it can sound very jarring. It can look very jarring. It can look very fake and artificial. But you know I had Dada’s help. I did a lot of practice and with that you become the character, you surrender to it. But yes, initially it was a challenge.

What have been the best moments for you in the film?

You know since it has taken so long, you keep losing patience, but whenever I was on set with Anurag Basu and the entire cast and crew, there was always something magical happening. You know it’s wasn’t the run-of-the-mill situations, it wasn’t things I was probably doing in my other films, everything was a new experience. Everything felt like an adventure, you know the kind of scenes he created, the treatment, the music, the situations, the costumes. Dada made me sit on ostriches, he made me run on trains, he made me hide myself in a basket when I am naked, he made me do things which probably I would not do in real life and definitely not in other films.

Why should our readers go and watch Jagga Jasoos? What’s your message to them? 

Well, it’s hard to hard-sell a film. You guys have seen the trailer, you guys liked the songs. All we can promise is it’s an entertaining film, it’s something that you can watch with your family. I have to say a big thank you for the love and support you guys have shown towards me and my other films.

 

AR RAHMAN: “I don’t have any borders in my head. I want to respect and I want to give whatever I can within my limitations, that is the best”

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By FATIMA PATEL

AR Rahman, does this name really need an introduction? Well for those who don’t know (and really surprised if you don’t) Rahman is probably one of the world’s most renowned musicians.

He is most noted for integrating Indian classical music with electronic music, world music and traditional orchestral arrangements. With accolades and awards including two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, four National Film Awards, fifteen Filmfare Awards and sixteen Filmfare Awards South. As well as the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, in 2010 by the Government of India the South Indian man is truly a musical genius.

Rahman’s career has spanned 25 years and to celebrate he is in the UK for a special 25-year anniversary concert at the Wembley Arena. We caught up with the introvert ahead of his concert and here’s what he had to say.  

Fatima: Welcome back to the UK for your 25th anniversary concert in Wembley. What can audiences expect from this show?

AR Rehman: Audiences will get to experience a mix of Hindi and Tamil compositions, it will be something for everybody, especially for people who follow music

The show promises to be a mega multimedia spectacular. Can you tell us a bit more about that and how the concept has come about for this particular show?

It’s about the music but at the same time it’s about having all the gizmos and videos and everything so it gives a better dimension to the show. We have some great music and some great musicians coming, so I am really looking forward to it.

Do you have any memories from any previous UK concerts that you have performed at that you can recall and share with us?

I have a lot of memories and I am hoping that this is going to be an even better one. People in the UK are always very supporting. I have performed in London and Birmingham however, not in the North of England, though we wanted to go, but it never worked out for various reasons. Though we are very very excited about London

Well I come from Yorkshire so you have an open invite sir to Yorkshire whenever you come we would gladly welcome you. Going back to your 25-years in the industry do you ever look back and reflect on your past 25 years?

Well the first few years was such a high for me like everything such as awards, or what I could do musically, within the limitation of the needs of the movie and we had one of India’s best Director directing it and nobody would even dream about having that team so it only got better for me. So that actually set the standards and am really grateful for that, to God and to the whole team that helped put it out there.

You’re doing Hindi, Hollywood as well as the regional projects. So many different languages yet you manage to tune it so well with your music compositions. How do you manage to achieve this?

I don’t have any borders in my head. I don’t have any judgemental prejudices in my head and so I try to be as keen as possible and so I want to work with every culture, I want to respect and I want to give them whatever I can within my limitations that is the best. It’s not easy for me, but there is a process and within this process there is a whole team involved, the directors are involved, the producers are involved, so by that I think it’s easy to achieve.

That’s wonderful I mean is it because of this attitude that you’ve managed the hectic work load that you have because you’re working all over internationally, locally and now you’ve got the concert coming up as well?

I think from the early ages from my life I have been so obsessed about my work and that’s not changing. Even though now it’s expanding I am actually directing a virtual reality movie and I am producing a movie called 99 songs and there are so many other things.

Obviously, you’re doing a lot more going forward, but looking back what would you say have been the main highlights of your journey so far?

I think for me you know you have mind set as an artist in India that oh who’s going to come sign me up and that mind set changed in the process of the 20 odd years to, do I need people to come and sign me up? Of course, when people come to me I respect that, but why can’t I do my own things like open a school, or I do something for charity? So, all these things being an introvert it’s like wow. So, there are many opportunities within us and everyone, not only me we just have to open those doors, the doors are all there. After I reached 40 I feel like I can open any door whenever I want to and I have been trying to do that

Apart from your own music do you ever listen to anybody else’s music and do you enjoy other soundtracks?

I don’t have much time to listen to music, because I have so much to do. I have to arrange music… I have to produce music. So, I try to listen to music which is not connected with me or Indian. I listen to music from Senegal or Iceland or anything that’s on radio.

You’ve got your concert coming up is there any message you would like to give to our readers

I just want to thank all the people who have bought tickets. Music is for love music is for peace.

Thank you so much for speaking to us sir, we wish you all the best.

Thank you

 

 

 

 

 

 

BENNY DAYAL: “Nothing can get better than performing at AR Rahman sir’s 25th Anniversary concert”

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Introduced by AR Rahman he started his career exactly ten years ago, for a Tamil film called Sivaji and has gone on to sing songs in several other languages, including for the Hindi film industry more popularly known as Bollywood.

His songs such as Ude Dil Befikre, Badtameez Dil, and Tu Meri Dost Hai have gone on to be smash hits with millions of listeners worldwide. After obtaining a Masters in journalism, disappointed with career options in music, Benny nearly gave up on his dream by taking on a job, until music maestro AR Rahman came calling…and the rest as they say is history.

We caught up with the new generation, versatile Indian singer, Benny Dayal ahead of his UK tour with music legend AR Rahman to chat about everything music.

By FATIMA PATEL

Fatima: Lovely to be speaking to you. So, my first question to you is, AR Rahman introduced you as playback singer in films how did the introduction actually happen?

Benny: Actually, even I don’t know, it’s been a miracle, actually to be very honest. I was actually looking for work when I did start like exactly 11 years ago and I used to be like asking and approaching a lot of composers in Chennai when I was in Chennai and no one had any work for me or taken an interest in my voice. Nothing was working out for me so then I took this job and was wondering if my journey in music will ever happen. Then three days into my job I got a call from his (AR Rahman’s) studio which was extremely ironic but I think it was to happen the way it was meant to happen.

A dream came true for you then?

Oh yes

So how important do you think his (AR Rahman) role has been in the shaping of your musical career?

Oh, definitely what can I say sometimes I feel I am not worthy of talking about him, what he has achieved, in this time and space, taken his music globally and made a mark for the industry. At a time in an Indian society when nobody believed music could be a lifelong career, there was a time in India where parents used to tell us to keep music as a hobby and get a job. So, when he came into the industry in 1992 with Roja, he started to introduce a lot of new singers who weren’t there in the industry besides, SP Bala Subramaniam and Hariharan. Even Hariharan sir was introduced at that time. And so, it was incredible to see that he (AR Rahman) had brought out a lot of new singers that gave us youngsters in India to have the hope of taking music up as a career. And so not just musically, but technically and sound wise, in terms of composition, in terms of tune, in terms of musical arrangements. It’s everything that he has showed us, the simplicity and intensity, you know so many things. So, there is so much and you can keep going and talk for 48 hours on him and it still wouldn’t be enough on Rahman Sir.

You’ve definitely left your mark as well, I mean your background is from an Indian Indie scene you’ve bought a lot of soul RNB and Jazz in your music that wasn’t seen before in Bollywood but now has been accepted

I could probably say I was one of them first singers who started singing a lot of RNB and Soul. I could see there were singers like Shaan and KK, you know they was also there. I should say thank you to composers like AR Rehman for giving me the opportunity to take that genre forward and bring new flavour to and give it the flavour of Indian music

It’s fantastic to see that these new genres of music are being explored in Bollywood but more that it has been accepted. Where do you think the Bollywood industry is heading now with all these new genres coming forth and the fact that people are experimenting with music?

Every musical industry, or every musical society would have to evolve. Because that’s exactly how we go ahead it’s important to progress. I meet a lot of journalists who say music is not like how it was and I am sat at a press conference and I’m saying hey your shooting pictures from a digital camera and why aren’t you using a still camera, so you like shooting from a digital camera now. So, you see what I am saying? So, it’s same with music. Music can’t stay analogue and it’s not just for radio, but digital platforms too. There are so many social media platforms nowadays. So, you have to evolve and that’s exactly how life should be. There are many platforms, many ways to listen to music according to people’s affordability.

So, which Indian musician apart from AR Rahman sir has inspired you over the years?

From Indian definitely, everyone has played a vital role in my career. I have worked with Vishal & Shekar and they have definitely helped in my career giving me the right songs.

You’ve recently celebrated your first wedding anniversary so congratulations on that….

Thank you thank you so much.

Does your wife have any influence on the kind of songs you sing. For example, does she prefer you to sing more romantic songs or maybe the songs like Badtameez dil? 

 (Laughs) She loves all my songs. She doesn’t mind, she never says you should sing songs like that. Whatever comes.

You’re coming to the UK for the 25 years AR Rahman concert. How are you feeling about performing live at the concert?

Extremely incredible I can’t tell you we’re celebrating 25 years of AR Rahman music, as I have been such a hard-core fan of his and to be a part of his celebration and to be on tour performing with him I just can’t explain how I feel. He’s the reason why I got into this industry. To be a part of his twenty-fifth year anniversary nothing can get better than that for me

Thank you so much for speaking to us and we wish you all the best with your tour in the UK

Thank you very much Fatima