Singer Shalmali Kholgade, who rose to fame with songs like "Pareshaan" ( Ishaqzaade), "Balam Pichkari" (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), and "Lat Lag Gayee" (Race 2) to name a few, is back with her latest single "Baaki". In an exclusive interaction with The Free Press Journal, Shalmali opens up on doing independent music, the industry’s future, and more.
Despite giving chartbusters and hit party songs for Bollywood films, Shalmali has leaned more towards independent music in recent years. When asked why she steered away from playback singing in Bollywood, the songstress explains, “I have been completely immersed in my independent music since the onset of the pandemic. I guess somewhere the industry sensed the shift in where I was focusing my energy. I still hold every relationship that I’ve made in the film Industry very close. Pritam, Amit Trivedi, Vishal Dadlani, and Shekhar Ravjiani, are some of the composers I hugely respect and who I can pick up a call on as friends. They are all encouraging of my intention to write my music.”
Shalmali believes that an artist’s aspirations are changing and with it is the Indian music industry. “We are heading into a culture where the young ambition isn’t just to sing for films. The newer generation is speaking of writing their music. So, while film music will continue to have more ears, there will be just as many other avenues to get your dose of new music. There very well is an audience for every kind of music - however big or small it may be,” she avers.
Shalmali, who has judged singing reality shows maintains that they are not a shortcut to success. She asserts, “They are a stepping stone if one sees them to be. It is very difficult for the contestants to survive reality shows, manage their school or college or personal lives, rehearse, and then shoot. It only primes one to what could potentially be their life if one chooses to continue in the music industry.”
Shalmali feels that due to the clutter of talent discovery, great artists may get lost and not be relevant. However, she states that they can’t put their hands up and say their job is done once they’ve made music. “Music-making extends to putting it out and following it through with conviction. It is a tedious process, but it is the need of the hour. I also sometimes feel like, some great pieces of art that got buried too early, have to be discovered on the shoulders of another,” she says.
Unlike her contemporaries, Shalmali doesn’t boast millions of followers on social media. She says that the platform and its clout may get an artist their first opportunity but if they’re unable to prove themselves it won’t get them too far. “People who’ve gathered a genuine following on their social media, have done it by way of actually being good at what they do. So it’s a matter of how genuine their clout is,” she concludes.