Singing blues

Singing blues

Singing blues

Srabanti Chakrabarti speaks to singer Madhushree, known best for singing a host of Rehman compositions, on her time in the film music industry, and what she hopes to take away from it.


It is a well known fact that when hit by a sudden creative burst of inspiration, nothing else will really come to matter. In fact, everything else will appear trivial once the creative mind sets its goal on what it wants to pursue. Singer Madhushree’s story is no different.
The lady who lent her golden voice to superhit songs like Chalka chalka re (Saathiya) and Kabhi neem neem (Yuva) had a tough time during her initial days in Mumbai. She was first in Surinam, teaching Indian classical music there, when the Bollywood bug bit her.

“I was working with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and was posted in Surinam. It was a very comfortable and luxurious life there. It was very difficult after coming to Mumbai as I had to struggle all over again. But my family’s support, my love for music and the desire to make a career in the film industry saw me through,” recollects Madhushree.
Like anyone else, she too had to face rejection initially. Madhushree’s first break came in the form of a song for the film Moksha. “Rajesh Roshan gave my first Hindi film song. I have also sung for Kal Ho Na Ho, Saathiya, Yuva, Welcome To Sajjanpur, Swades, Rang De Basanti, Kisna, Jodha Akbar, Guru, Blue and Ek Deewana Tha,” she says.

Rehman’s choice

Interestingly, though all of Madhushree’s songs have been hits, she has never got her due acclaim or been tagged as a singing superstar. The soft singer’s jaw stiffens before replying, “There is no denying the politics in this industry. I have no qualms in admitting that I have been a victim of politics in Bollywood. For no rhyme or reason, I have been rejected and still am. But I feel happy that I have got the opportunity to work so much with A R Rehman.”

Most of the Hindi songs she has sung were for A R Rehman. “I am there in almost every film he has worked in. After winning the Oscar, his schedule has become busier. But he does call me whenever possible. I feel honoured that he has such faith in my singing. My journey with him started in 2002 and still continues,” she says.

Is that the reason why other composers have not used her to the extent they should have? After all, groups and lobbying are not uncommon in Bollywood. “I feel very content when I look at the songs I have done with Rehman. In fact, all of my songs went on to become chartbusters. But it is not that I have not worked with other composers. Down south, I have worked with M M Kreem, Harish Jairaj, Vidyasagar and Karthick Raja. I have worked with many talented and successful composers there. But yes, in Hindi films I have not worked with too many composers,” says the lady whose last A R Rehman song was a duet with Rehman himself, Sharminda hoon from the film Ek Deewana Tha.

Talk about the number and Madhushree’s mood immediately lights up. “It is a fantastic romantic song. It has such a sweet melody. The subtle variations in the orchestration make it a song that touches your heart. The effect is sheer magic, which only a legend like Rehman could write. And the lyrics by Javed Akhtar take it to a different level altogether and make it unforgettable. It is a song which is complete in all aspects,” she says.

As a singer, Madhushree has matured a lot since the early years of this millennium. Where does she get her inspiration from? Madhushree listens to a lot of Western music now. “They sing with an open voice. That is something I wish to learn from them,” Madhushree says. What about Indian music? “I am a big fan of Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt. Rafi saab was one singer who used to sing with so much passion that you could feel the pain and joy behind every song. And Geeta ji had the sweetness and namak in her voice.”

Apart from this, her husband Robby Badal, a composer and arranger himself, is also a big source of support. “He is my greatest critic. He could have been an excellent composer, but he prefers supporting and helping me,” she says.

Robby had composed one of Madhushree’s private albums -— Lagi Lagan. He has also composed Madhushree’s next song. “I am releasing a solo song which will be in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. It has been composed by Robby.”

What about the future? “I am ready to sing more Hindi songs now,” she says. With her kind of talent, the day is not far when we’ll be hearing more from her. 

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