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The singer as a judge
Shreya Ghoshal

You have shied away from being a judge on talent shows, so how did Amul STAR Voice of India –— Chhote Ustaad happen?

I have been busy with my singing commitments all this while. However, when Gajji (Gajendra Singh) approached me to judge Chhote Ustaad, there was no way I was going to refuse him. Gajji is my mentor and it is through his Sa Re Ga Ma 10 years ago that I managed to find my way into playback singing. I was looking to take a break from singing and the dates for Chhote Ustaad worked out perfectly. And after shooting a couple of episodes, I realised that I had made the right decision.

Do you see a lot of yourself in the contestants?

Not really. The kids today are very smart and they don’t suffer from stage fright at all. I used to be this timid girl on stage who would stand with her head lowered. I didn’t have the courage to even talk, leave alone sing (smiles). And the contestants that we have are just the opposite. They are confident and despite being so young, they know what their goals are.

Confident they may be, but don’t you think many of them are being put under too much pressure?

In a way that’s right. As a judge on Chhote Ustaad, I have always stressed the fact that winning is not everything. All these kids are extremely talented and are sure to go places, whether they win the contest or not. A lot of these children are under a lot of pressure — from parents and from their peers. When they don’t perform well, they start crying on stage. Such things should not happen.

You have Kunal Ganjawala and Pritam Chakraborty as fellow-judges. How has it been?

It’s been a fantastic experience. All three of us, along with the kids, have a wonderful time on the sets. On many days, we shoot for more than 12 hours a day, but I don’t really get tired because I have such great company on the sets.

Is Chhote Ustaad a one-off show or are you looking at the small screen big time?

As of now, it’s just Chhote Ustaad. I am on a three-month break, after which I plan to go back to playback singing with even more enthusiasm than before (smiles). But if something worthwhile does come up on television, I will definitely give it a thought. Otherwise, its just singing for me.

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