The versatile and talented singer Shilpa Rao has sung numerous hit tracks and is a known face in Bollywood. In an exclusive interview with the Free Press Journal on the eve of International Women's Day, the singer opened up about her journey and experience in the entertainment industry.
Q. How has your journey been as a woman in the industry so far?
In the house where I grew up, my grandparents and my parents had a very humanistic approach. My brother and I were taught to be self-reliant and to focus on what to do in our careers. Both of us had the same set of values. Not just in my career, but life in general has been smooth because of those values which really took the gender out of the context.
Q. What was the force which guided you through the difficult phase of your career?
Thankfully, Mumbai is a place where you are not judged on the basis of where you are from. Only the work you do and how well you do it matters. That's one thing I learned from this city which guided me through tough times. The better you are at work, more are the chances of success. Life is not easy at any point, even after 50 films, you need to do work hard and deliver your absolute best. The point is to keep believing in yourself and when things are bad, the relationships you build will guide you through them. Even if there is no one around, self belief should guide you out of trouble.
Q. As per LinkedIn’s findings, 50% of women are actively seeking employers who treat them as equal, whereas 56% are still looking to get recognition at work for what they do, what are your thoughts on this?
Society isn't perfect, there are innumerable issues which women face. I believe that standing up for yourself is really important. I know that you might lose things in the present but but if you stay true to your ideals that it will help you grow holistically. There have been times when I had to stand firm on what I believe in, as a musician, as an artist and as a woman which might have halted my progress initially. It is important to understand as a woman that you give it time. I would advice this to every other woman who is looking to succeed in life.
Q. Did the lockdown change the way you look at life and what did you engage in to beat the boredom?
I looked at life in a very zoned out way. I, along with others who were stuck at home were the most fortunate people and just to be with the family was a huge blessing. Looking at the people in need of help and aiding them in whatever way possible, emotional, financial or just a small conversation with anyone feeling lonely helped me feel better. I also took up cooking to send self-cooked dishes to my friends. I was definitely not as good as they are when it comes to cooking but the activity got me closer to them.
Q. You engage in philanthropy work very often, what drives you to constantly give back to the society?
It's not just about giving in a commodity, a simple thought that can inspire anyone is the biggest way to help. I think by just asking people to not litter, by keeping surroundings clean, we can give back to the society. My parents have always loved trees more than anything else. My house is nothing short of a huge garden. I have grown up in such an atmosphere which has helped me become more sensitive towards nature and people.