Rahman is a perfectionist, he would never accept anything mediocre when you walked into the studio-Entertainment News, Firstpost


Pop singer Shweta Shetty started her work in the Hindi film industry in the 90s with music maestro AR Rahman and yielded a slew of hits. Last month, she made a solo return to the stage after a 25-year hiatus…

An early ’90s pop icon, Shweta Shetty balanced film and non-film songs with an ease quite unheard of in an era when there was no social media to further her work. While songs with music maestro AR Rahman, (rukmani rukmani of Roja1992), (Khel Hai Yeh of superpolice1994), (Mangta Hai Kya of rangeela1995) steadily climbed the charts to become superhits, his unfilmed songs JohnyJohnyJoker, toteand Deewane to Deewane Hain became pop favorites.

She made a solo return to the stage last month at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai, after a 25-year hiatus. She walks down memory lane with First Post reminiscing about some of her decade-old songs, some of which have even been recreated by others over the past year.

‘Mangta Hai Kya has been an out of body experience for me so to speak’

rangeelait is Mangta Hai Kya featuring Aamir Khan and Urmila Matondkar was a special song for Shweta Shetty. “It was out of this world. It was an out of body experience for me, so to speak. It was like when yogis go into deep meditation they lose their mind and control and that’s actually what happened to me when I first heard Mangta Hai Kya. By the time she got this song, Shweta Shetty was already a huge fan of Rahman. She had done other successful films with him by then, so she was very comfortable with Rahman. “When this song came to me, I had a really good feeling. At that time, I didn’t know who was dueting with me. I asked Rahman’s team who the male vocalist was and I said I hope it wasn’t Baba Sehgal because normally at that time it was mandatory in Bollywood to have the same singers who had a hit song together to sing again. said they weren’t too sure because it hadn’t been decided yet and they would decide after I finished recording. I was just very, very nervous recording this song. J I was a little confused with the lyrics at first because the lyrics were a little weird to me. However, I thought ‘let me give it my own feel’. So the beginning was kind of like a pop opera because I really wanted to bring some soul into the song. I’m really happy that I was allowed to do that by Rahman.

“Rahman is a leader”

Having worked with Rahman for many songs, Shweta Shetty shared a level of comfort with him, but when it came to work he was a badass. “Rahman is someone who will push you hard until you say, ‘No Rahman, what more do you want from me?’ And just when you say he goes ahead and always brings out the best in you every time. The man is such a perfectionist and such a wonderful kid. He’s a very gifted artist and he waits a lot of you. He won’t accept anything mediocre from you and you know that as soon as you walk into the studio. So there’s a bit of pressure when you’re working with Rahman and it’s always good pressure.

“I give everything to a song, unless I don’t like the song”

Shweta admits that she works better under pressure. “I need that kind of pressure, that nervousness if I’m going to live up to the expectations of composers like Rahman. I think it holds me and gives me the strength to give my best. I give my best to every song, unless of course I don’t like the song but sing it anyway!” Shweta isn’t too proud of her song’you are my fried chicken‘ which was composed by Bappi Lahiri and was a duet with her. “May his soul rest in peace, but when Bappi Lahiri gave me a song that had lyrics like, ‘You’re my fried chicken, you’re my fried fish, you’re my samosa, you’re my masala dosa… I was like, ‘Oh my God! I just didn’t want to sing that song that Bappi Da gave me. That song became a hit later, but my heart wasn’t in it and I promised myself after this song that I wouldn’t sing songs like this because it’s not me and it shows because I’m not comfortable singing such songs.

“Biddu created Johnny Johnny Joker from my lived stories”

In the early 90s, Shweta was dating Sanjay Patel and she shares an interesting story of how he got involved in one of her most popular songs. “Sanjay was a very eligible guy and all the girls wanted him. Once we went to a party where all these girls were hitting on him and he was enjoying the attention. What man wouldn’t? But then I’m a pretty person. possessive and I would be really upset. So every time Biddu and I spoke, even on long distance calls, I would tell him how angry I was and what my boyfriend had done, etc. We also had the used to exchanging faxes at the time because we didn’t have cell phones. Biddu listened to me but worried that we were wasting precious talk time. He was lively and among all the stories I told him about my boyfriend he created Johnny Johnny Joker I had no idea then because I was just talking to Biddu about my relationship with my boyfriend and when I saw the song I realized he wrote about my life! This secret is now revealed, very few people know it!”

“The music that Salim-Sulaiman made for me back then was way ahead of our time”

After the success of johnny johnny joker, Shweta has released a solo album titled “Shweta The Album” with songwriting duo Salim-Sulieman. She remembers how talented musicians came up with something extremely unique back then. “I think it was way ahead of our time. The music was a completely different world to what Salim-Sulaiman did for me. There was techno and there was a kind of R&B feel to it as well. So , I think it was something we wanted to try, but it didn’t really work out at the time, if we had made the same album with that kind of music today, it would have been really great. But I have no regrets because I always wanted to work with people who wanted to make music that I believed in.

“I loved the energy of Hans Raj Hans in Dil Tote Tote Ho Gaya”

In the late 90s, Shweta sang for several Guddu Dhanoa films. “He always called me his lucky mascot because we had a lot of great successes together. Poster Lagwa Do Bazaar Mein of Aflatoon, Kaale Kaale Baal of Zidd, Dil Tote Ho Gaya Tote of Bichhoo Where Pichhu Padé Hai from Salaakhen. Before tote he had called me to tell me that my duet would be with a Sufi singer, Hans Raj Hans. I love Sufi music and I loved the energy of Hans Raj Hans, so it all came together and we did Tote Tote.

“I always thought of this actress when I was singing a song for a Bollywood heroine”

Shweta tells us that she always felt very lucky in her job because they let her be herself and appreciated the way she sang. “I had the chance to work with everyone I worked with, whether it was Rahman, Biddu, Anand Raaj Anand, everyone said ‘You have your own style, how can we tell you how? sing a song’. As for the non-cinematic songs, I always sang the emotions that I had at that moment. I kind of adapted to each track, adapted according to the songs. With Bollywood , it was different because there was someone else. So I always kept that actress in mind when I was singing a song for a Bollywood heroine. I knew most of them personally, I knew their type of voice timbre, so it was easier for me to do that. So it was never like Shweta was just singing for a particular type of song. I was never really categorized. For Deewane Toh, I said let’s try this raucous bass song People came to me with different songs like Main Dekhne Ki Cheez Hoon, a full dance number.

Debarati S Sen is a consultant journalist and writer who writes about music, culture, drama, movies, OTT and more. Instagram: @DebaratiSSen

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