Singer and songwriter Neha Bhasin became an overnight sensation after winning Coke V popstars in 2002. It was a talent hunt show conducted to form India’s first girl band, VIVA. And post that, there was no looking back for Neha who went on to become the voice of popular songs like Dhunki (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan), Jag Ghoomeya (Sultan), Swag Se Swagat’ (Tiger Zinda Hai), Chashni (Bharat), and many more. Not just Hindi, but the singer has also spread her wings in Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi film industry. Last year, Neha released a song on cyberbullying titled, Kehnde Rehnde. And, now the singer is back with a new love ballad, Tu Ki Jaane. From being one of the first female popstars in the 90s to producing her own songs under her label 5 Am, along with her husband and music composer Sameer Uddin, Neha Bhasin has come a long way. The Cinema Journal caught up with the singer for a quick chat on her new song, journey in the music industry, and more. Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about your latest release, Tu Ki Jane. What is it about?
We are an independent label called 5 Am and we have been releasing music through our label since 2014. The latest one is Tu Ki Jane, written and composed by me and my mother, and produced by my husband, Sameer. It’s a song about a woman asking a man not to leave things midway. There is pathos, mild heartbreak and melancholy in the song. It’s a beautiful video that we shot in Nainital in a burnt down hotel.
Do you think the song Jag Ghoomeya from Salman Khan-starrer Sultan help you bag more songs?
I think Jag Ghoomeya made a very acceptable place for me in Bollywood. It brought me to the forefront, though I have been singing for many years. I feel people were not able to slot me into a certain bracket, which I feel is very important for somebody trying to get more work. With Jag Ghoomeya and me doing a lot of folk music, people were able to slot me and put me somewhere where they felt I could belong. And, it did accelerate my work in the industry, and help me make a place as a singer in the hearts of the audience.
You have sung songs in Tamil and Telugu as well. How did you manage to get the accent right?
I have actually sung a lot of Tamil and Telugu songs. In fact, Tamil was the first industry in which I made a name for myself, after that came Bollywood and Telugu. There are a lot of people in the studios who help you with the accent. You just need to go with the flow.
Being trained by late Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, what were your learnings that helped you better your craft as a singer?
My training with Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab was very brief, and was for VIVA, but for some reason the internet says I trained under him. My trainer and guru is Rochana Dhanukar and I’m still learning from her. Indian classical music is a vast sea. When I entered the industry I wasn’t trained at all. To be honest, my real training started from 2013-2014, so I would say I am still a new student in Indian classical music. There is so much to learn in Indian classical and raga-based music that no matter many years you put in, they will still not be enough.
Having won many awards, do you feel they are losing authenticity these days?
Winning an award does give you a sense of validation, and I am not saying that’s the best way of wanting or getting validation. The awards that I have won have been authentic, because I am not a power hungry person or don’t have connections in the industry where I may have pulled some strings. I got fortunate and I am grateful for that. Having said that, I have decided to move on from wanting awards or even attending award ceremonies because to some extent I do feel there is a lack of authenticity—not just in the way the nominations are done or the awards are handed out. People might say I am being a hypocrite after winning so many awards. I did not ask for those awards, but I am grateful for receiving them. But, I hope and dream to attend the Grammy Awards once, and win one and perform there, too! That’s my only wish, where awards are concerned.