The zara zara girl

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By MOHUA DAS
  • Published 12.06.08
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Two years after she got knocked out of Indian Idol 2, Monali Thakur has finally arrived — singing the sensuous Zara zara and Sexy lady tracks for Katrina Kaif in Race. With a steady trickle of plum assignments, Monali is all set to make her mark as a Bollywood singer. A t2 chat...

How did you get to sing Zara zara and Sexy lady?

I share a very good relation with Tips and they recommended me to Preetomda for Race. All he told me about Zara zara was that it’s meant to be a very sensuous number. He wasn’t even there at the studio during the recording. Later, when Preetomda and Race directors Abbas-Mustan heard the song, they loved the way it had turned out. I was called for a second time and that’s how the other song Sexy lady happened.

Any word of praise from Katrina?

Yeah, I heard Katrina telling Preetomda “I just l-o-v-e-d the song” in her typical British accent at the album launch!

Has Race opened doors for you?

Yes, with Race I have got into mainstream playback singing. Before that I was just another Indian Idol contestant. This is what I have been struggling for and wanting for a long time. I’ve got an offer from Lalitji and Preetomda.

I’ve recorded four or five songs for them but I am not sure what these are for. I also sang a Punjabi song for Dhruv Dhalla, who composed Chak de phatte for Khosla Ka Ghosla. I’ve sung most of the songs for the female lead in a big-budget film for Tips directed by Sachin Gupta, who was the music director for Atif Aslam’s first album Doorie. I have also got an offer from Lalitji to sing for Sushmita Sen in the film Dulha Mil Gaya. I have sung item numbers for Jugaar and India Today. People feel classical and Bihari numbers work well in my voice, so I am just taking things as they come.

What about your own album?

I’ve been working on my album for a year now. It will have nine songs, of which Sachin Gupta and I have composed six. Lyrics will be by Faiz Anwar and others. I’m trying to introduce a blend of rock and classical, something that Bollywood singers have not tried before. It would be stylised and treated as light and classical, but not hard core rock because it doesn’t suit my voice. I hope to release the album by the end of this year.

What keeps you busy apart from playback singing?

I have at least two or three recordings a week these days. I am also travelling a lot to Bangalore, Goa, Delhi and Bihar for stage shows. I have been doing stage shows since Indian Idol but things have changed after Race. I travel at least twice a week and have a troupe of dancers in some cities who perform with me on stage.

Which do you enjoy more — playback singing or performing live?

Presentation is very important on stage. People just don’t come to listen but also to watch. Having an attitude and looking good are equally important. Playback is quite different. You have to learn how to be flexible, understand the situations and put in the right expressions. Indian Idol made me more professional. It was a blessing that I was out of the contest early because I learnt through my struggle.

What about singing for Tollywood?

I’ve already sung for four Bengali films, including Riingo’s Love where I sang the title track and another number. I sang a duet with Zubeen Garg for a film starring Satabdi Ray and Tapas Pal.

Are you interested in acting?

I have got several offers to act in serials in Mumbai but I don’t want to because serials take up too much time. Movies are better. If I get a good offer, I’ll take it up because I enjoy acting.

Are you a stickler for riyaz?

Whenever I come to Calcutta I go visit my guruji Pandit Jagdish Prasad for lessons. Otherwise, I am singing all day, that is also a way of practising. It’s hard with late night recordings and the fast life in Mumabi, but I still try to sit with the tanpura sometimes.

(What message do you have for Monali? Tell t2@abpmail.com)