Free Press Journal

Warbling Wonders!

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Actress Shraddha Kapoor during recording of a background score of the upcoming film Ek Villian in Mumbai on June 7, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

With technology to the rescue, lack of vocal talent need never get in the way of a singing spree, says Vanessa Viegas.

At the very outset, when Amitabh Bachchan was rejected by All India Radio after an audition, his confidence took a hit… The voice, that he thought was his only shot to fame, had become his bane! That that famous baritone later went on to sweep the nation, in a spell it still hasn’t woken up from, is another matter altogether…

Having established his stardom, the superstar got to croon for himself, his raw, untrained voice bursting out in cinema halls and radio stations in the film Mr. Natwarlal (1979). Today music records boast of 32 songs sung solely by Mr. Bachchan, including ‘Rang barse…’, ‘Jumma chumma…’, ‘Khaike paan Banaras waala…’, ‘Ekla cholo re…’ to name a few, which went on to become chartbusters!


Hindi cinema had its share of singing stars in the early years, such as K. L. Saigal, Noor Jehan, Suraiyya and Kishore Kumar. However not since the Fifties, when this trend was replaced by exclusive playback singers, have we seen the rebirth of actors with a will to warble. These days it has become almost mandatory for a film to feature a song rendered by its leading lady or man, like it were part of the star’s conditions before signing on!

This trend throws up some distinctive voices like Farhan Akhtar, who was once apparently asked by an event organiser to clear his throat before he could start signing! A laughing Farhan had explained to the visibly flummoxed man that that was what he always sounded like. With tickets selling out in a heartbeat and musical renditions amping up the Bollywood charts, Farhan has acquired rock star status, gravelly voice and all.

…Not so, our desi girl Priyanka Chopra, who was credited with producing and co-writing ‘In my city’ with acclaimed American rapper Pitbull. The US billboards were not impressed. Her attempt to apparently ape international singing sensation Jennifer Lopez didn’t bring in the desired response… Something Shraddha Kapoor, who was cast as a small-town bar singer who becomes a successful playback artist in Mohit Suri’s Aashiqui 2, achieved with her very first song. ‘Teri galliyan…’ went on to become the highlight of the musical drama and paved the way for further playback possibilities in the music-heavy Rock On 2.

‘Pani da rang’in Vicky Donor introduced the world to the fine singer that is also actor Ayushmann Khurrana, while Alia Bhatt, who hit a high with her first song ‘Sooha Saha…’ in the film Highway, excitedly chirped, “for a bathroom singer to have the opportunity to sing a song composed by Rahman sir, it was all unreal!” Sonakshi Sinha called the release of her debut single ‘Aaj mood ishqholic hai…’ “the realisation of a long standing dream,” while Parineeti Chopra, who will be crooning a number for the film Meri Pyari Bindu, explains the trend of actors jumping onto the singing bandwagon as the need to “explore different aspects of their creative talents”.

…Sometimes they do so even with minuscule singing talent! From the husky Rani Mukerji (Ghulam)to the hunky John Abraham (Rocky Handsome), who perhaps cannot sing to save their lives, playback was suspiciously a cake-walk. Of course it took the Bhaijaan of Bollywood- Salman Khan to rat them all out when he nonchalantly owed all his playback success in the Sooraj Pancholi-Athiya Shetty starrer HERO to auto-tune! And even though the song went on to become a chart buster, it was his brutal honesty that stirred a newfound respect among the gazillion fans that already worship the superstar for what he is.