Pop star Shweta Shetty: 'I am still trying to figure out what I did in a male-dominated society in the 90s'

Pop star Shweta Shetty: 'I am still trying to figure out what I did in a male-dominated society in the 90s'

Pop star Shweta Shetty talks abouts about her comeback, life in Germany, and her first love — music

Verus FerreiraUpdated: Saturday, July 15, 2023, 06:47 PM IST
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Pop star Shweta Shetty, the dusky beauty who made ’90s kids go Deewane with her incredible songs and beautiful voice, is back on stage in Mumbai. She will enthrall the audience with her melodious voice with a show inspired by artistes like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, as a part of NCPA Legends. In an interaction with The Free Press Journal, she talks about her musical journey and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

How does it feel to reconnect with your fans after all these years?

You know, there’s one thing about India. A fan following is not fickle, like in some parts of the world. We have a loyal fan following. I’m not just talking about me; I’m talking about artistes and singers. When you have made a mark with your talent, you will always have your fans. They will always support you. They will always build you because it is just your hard work, especially when they know there’s been no godfather or no publicity which has given you that launch pad or anything. Forget making a name, but just being alive after all these years in people’s memories, that’s a big achievement. The love of being on stage and singing once again is nothing compared to that.

I am just so excited about the show. This is like a dream come true. NCPA is a manifestation. I’ve performed there, but it’s always with others. NCPA Legends always has artistes from abroad, different artistes performing different songs, but this is an honour. I hope I live up to the honour and integrity and responsibility that NCPA has given me. I’ll do my best.

What can the audience expect from Shweta Shetty? What is your set list for the evening?

You know, this is the first solo show, because this is the first time that an Indian singer gets to sing all these great songs of legends that you can only dream of. To be able to sing all these legendary singers like Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Prince, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey, these are the singers I’ve grown up with. So, it’s a challenge because, you know, people are going to compare how you sing it and how Aretha Franklin sings it. It’s a tough audience, but I’ve worked hard. I’ve worked for five months on the show. Luckily, I’ve got help from a guy called Andre, who got me all these fabulous female vocalists in a female band. I wanted a female band because I feel that women power; there’s nothing more combustible and powerful when like-minded musicians, women especially, come together. It’s going to be explosive.

How do you look back at your journey in the music industry?

Well, my entry into the music industry was at 17 or 16. I was still in St Xaviers (college) and the bug of acting, singing, and dancing between. It was a rocky start because I had a conservative upbringing in the Shetty household; nobody was in the entertainment industry then. I decided to do and take up music, the only thing that kept me happy was singing and being on stage. There was no question of attaining that kind of popularity or fame and money. It was just a joy and the love of music because I think my mother was also an amazing singer, she had a beautiful voice. So, I think that kind of was just passed on, and that’s how I got into music. Then one thing led to another. If I didn’t have the talent, I wouldn’t have made it so far. So, talent is the number one gift that you can have to have a successful journey and, you know, sustain it.

What did you always prefer, Indi pop or Bollywood?

I think if you ask any singer this question, even today, they will tell you, of course, Hindi pop. The simple reason is that it's your trademark; you take credit for it. It's your face, your music; it’s your talent that's on the platform for everybody to see. So obviously, because it's your baby, you prefer doing something like that. Bollywood reaches much, much higher; there’s no question about it. But then it's always that the success is divided. So, for me, it's always been pop. When I did any Bollywood song, I sang it in such a way that I could get some recognition. You have to be different to cut into a song so that you're different. Singers are also getting that credit. But I still feel that as a pop song, you're going as an entity, you know, that nobody can take from you.

When you were doing well in your music career, you one day decided to give up everything and move to Germany. What prompted that move?

Yeah, one of those die-hard, hardcore romantics, which is why I love ballads. It just happened to be that I just fell in love with a guy. I didn’t look at his religion, colour, or where he lived. It just knocked, and I opened it, and that’s it. I just flew away. At that point, I didn’t really think about it. There were people around me saying, my God, what are you doing and I’m like, nothing. I’m just getting married. So when I went there, I did have my doubts, but it was not that I disconnected. I did come back when I was married.

Did you pursue music while in Germany?

I did Tote Tote and Ore Ore from Ziddi on visits to India. I did a couple of shows in Europe. My songs kept me alive. I was travelling the world. I also got to do a couple of gigs with artistes like Jam and Spoon and Gregorian’s, Frank Peterson, and then the extensive world tour with Sarah Brightman. I did sing on cruise ships and in Mallorca and all these little bars and everything. But I wanted to do something else. That was not the journey that I wanted to take. I was comfortable doing my music. I was coming to Bombay, of course, to meet my parents once a year. I came back to India in August 2015 to be with my dad. I helped people with my yoga and slowly got back into my music. I have moved to Alibaug and come to Bombay every weekend, and visit Germany once a year.

In the 90s, it was more of a male-dominated music scene. What did you do to survive in such a volatile industry?

Yes, it was a male-dominated society in the 90s, and I still think it’s a male-dominated society even now. And I think that will always remain the same because that’s just a tradition. We believe in goddesses and everything, but the real power is always with the men. And that has changed, maybe to a small extent, but it’s still the same. So, I am still trying to figure out what I did in a male-dominated society at that point. I just was myself. I was just Shweta Shetty. There were no pretences, no façade; there were no masks. It was just me. Like it or leave it. You make many friends; you make genuine friends because then they don’t mess with you. After all, I had my view. I did get into trouble many times with important people.

Are you doing any Bollywood music currently?

No, I haven’t managed to open the Bollywood doors yet. And yeah, this has been a full-time, concentrated job because this is such a big show. There was much planning that went in, much time going through different, you know, auditioning people and, before you knew it, three, four months. Now it's preparation time. We've been just rehearsing. I just had two rehearsals with the band. We're going to have one major one on the 20th and then it's show time. I hope I could do and take this band and take the show to different parts of India to show. We Indians also have that talent to sing these different genres of music, which they don't expect. Let this be a surprise and reach other cities with our music.

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