Harshdeep Kaun talks about her journey as a female playback singer.
Abhishek Bachchan, Tapsee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal starrer Manmarziyaan released on Friday. The film has been receiving rave reviews on all fronts. The film’s music has been particularly praised by one and all. Indianexpress.com recently got in touch with singer Harshdeep Kaur, who has voiced tracks like “Grey Walaa Shade”, “Chonch Ladhiyaan” and “Jaisi Teri Marzi” from the movie.
In the interview, the singer talks about her journey as a female playback singer and delivering hit tracks like “Katiya Karun” from Rockstar, “Heer” from Jab Tak Hai Jaan, “Ik Onkar” from Rang De Basanti, “Kabira” from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, to “Dilbaro” in Raazi and the aforementioned songs in Manmarziyaan.
How do you get the emotions right in almost all your songs?
For me to totally soak the song, I always talk to the makers on what the situation is like when the song is placed in the film, what is it that the characters are feeling while emoting on screen. So, I can then imagine that situation and I become that character while singing that song. For Jab Tak Hai Jaan’s “Heer”, I remember meeting Aaditya Chopra and A R Rahman sir in the studio where they discussed with me the kind of scenes the song has, and what is happening to the character in the sequence. They told me how Katrina Kaif’s character is born and brought up abroad, and she is singing a song for her dad, and that she is wearing a Punjabi suit. So I could imagine Katrina wearing that dress, holding a guitar and singing the song. So I thought about her while singing the song, and it helped. Singing “Dilbaro” (from Raazi) was such an emotional moment for me, as I imagined myself being the young Kashmiri bride who was getting married and leaving not just her house but her country too, that too at such a tender age.
How do you choose or reject a song?
The kind of songs that I get are luckily custom made for my voice. I feel very blessed to be telling you this. I think it is because now the music directors know what kind of songs would suit my voice, my vocal range, and my style. They also bring out the best in me by testing my versatility. Like singing “Twist Kamariya” (from Bareilly Ki Barfi) was totally different for me. So these beautiful songs have been offered to me. But if I have to choose a song, I always check the lyrics first. Any song which I feel has derogatory words or has double meanings or are vulgar, then I upright say no. I don’t feel comfortable singing such songs, and I feel it is my responsibility, as a musician, to give out good songs, and meaningful music.
What do you think worked so wonderfully for your songs in Manmarziyaan?
Manmarziyaan is all heart. It is extremely soulful but with an edge since it is an Anurag Kashyap film. I really enjoyed singing these songs and performing live in concerts that followed the film’s promotions. This is that kind of project for me, which is all about good original music. I have worked with Amit Trivedi before, and I love the fact that he experiments with my voice. That’s why I like recording for him, his music is modern, different and has so many textures. And still, he keeps the melody intact.
What is your favourite genre of music?
I love Sufi music. Sufi music is very close to my heart, and that’s also how I started my singing career when I won the title Sufi Ki Sultana back in 2008. I have grown up listening to stalwarts like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab and Abida Parveen ji. So it came naturally to me that I have to give good music to my audience, music that soothes and heals.
If we particularly talk about Bollywood songs, I feel a beautiful song first comes from the composer’s/creator’s mind, and the lyricists who write such beautiful lyrics. The director then comes up with a situation that actually defines the song’s destiny. Once they do all this, is when they bring a singer in the picture. The ‘Sur’ and ‘Taal’ is of course very important when it comes to singing these songs, but I feel feelings and expressions play an equally important role. It is about how a singer owns the song.