Creative calling

Last Updated : 21 July 2018, 14:25 IST

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Former Viva girl and Bollywood singer Anushka Manchanda is now exploring the indie music space as a whole new person — Nuka. She talks about her alter ego and why it was time to go beyond pop. Say hello to Nuka — the newest entrant in the Indian indie music space. She’s intense, even dark, one might say, and a far cry from the pop star Anushka that we’ve come to know over the years. Of course, we were curious about the rebranding, but she’s quick to dismiss any such idea. “It’s nothing like that. It’s more like an addition, an extension, or an alter ego of mine. All these years I’ve worked with other people and shared ideas. Nuka is a place where I can take complete creative control and enjoy the complete creative freedom of my music. It’s not a job-driven or a brief-driven project. It’s my space to express my views independent of any other external force,” says the artiste who has written, sung, produced and performed her first independent single, ‘Don’t be afraid’.

The alter ego

The song addresses the insecurities and fears of a person and is nothing like the peppy Bollywood numbers (think Golmaal’) or pop tracks that she has sung before. It’s in the electronic and psychedelic realm. “In many ways, this is closer to the person that I am. As a kid, I never even listened to Bollywood or pop. It was always psychedelic, metal — the hard sounds, you know. But as destiny would have it, I found myself in a girl pop band (Viva). One thing led to another and soon I was doing playback for Bollywood. So, Nuka is me addressing my true calling,” says the 34-year-old singer who wants to now create a whole new path for her alter ego.

So there’s going to be a new social media presence and everything. “The Bollywood singer Anushka is the one who follows briefs and instructions. Nuka is a skilled technician with a very different sound. The two identities have to be kept different, I feel,” she adds.

But there’s more to the project than that. Nuka wants to be a voice with a reason — a rebel with a cause. It all started with a protest against the enormously expensive Shivaji Maharaj statue that the Maharashtra government is making efforts to install. The protest sparked an activist side of her that the singer hadn’t discovered before.

Activism & music

Earlier too, Anushka had sparked a debate with her unabashed Instagram photos for the ‘Free the nipple’ campaign. And now, she’s working with wildlife organisations to raise awareness against animal cruelty.

“So, it started with a conversation with my manager. He saw that I was evidently affected by the idea of money being pumped to erect a statue when there are so many other issues at hand. He told me that being an activist is a full-time job. It’s hard and will leave you no time for your art. You can either do that or be smart and use the strength of your voice to put forth the issues that concern you. I realised that he was right. Because at the end of the day, my art is my life. It’s what keeps me alive.

It’s the one thing I tell all the college kids during my shows —identify what your passion is. Think of the one thing that makes you happy and try to make money out of it. You have to wake up every morning and think to yourself that I’m dying to get to work. It’s unsolicited advice most times, but that’s what I tell them,” she adds with a laugh.

Her excitement as she talks about her new music baby is palpable. Anushka admits she’s never had so much coffee in her life as she did during the run-up to this single. But an album may have to wait for now. Having said that, she isn’t limiting herself to any sound. “Who knows what I’ll come up with next. It really depends on my mood and experiences at the time. For all you know, it may be a really peppy number,” she signs off.

Published 21 July 2018, 10:30 IST

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