By Suhel Johar


Shreya Ghoshal's sweet voice strikes you when you start talking with her. It made an impact on Sanjay Leela Bhansali too, two years back, when he heard her on 'Sa Re Ga Ma' and decided to launch her as a singer in 'Devdas'. Today, 18-year-old Shreya is looking forward to being Aishwarya Rai's 'voice' in Bhansali's ambitious film. "I am all excited and nervous, but I am confident that the songs will be liked."

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With her father, who is an electronics engineer with the Nuclear Power Corporation by her side, Shreya entered the state level singing competition from her hometown Kota, in Rajasthan, and won it. "It was my first competition and winning it was a big boost. I then took part in the national level competition, the All India Light Vocal competition, in New Delhi, and ended up winning that too. Kalyanji-Anandji and Rajan-Sajan Mishra were among the judges. I was 10 years old then."

When 'Sa Re Ga Ma' commenced telecast, Shreya's father felt she needed to be on the show. "Interestingly, since I was just 11, I could only participate in the Children's Special of 'Sa Re Ga Ma', but ended up winning it. Three years later, she got a call from Gajendra Singh of 'SRGM' asking her to take part in the second mega-finals. "I was surprised since I was just 14 then, and didn't qualify as a senior participant. But Gajendraji asked me to participate since one of the finalists hadn't turned up, and he felt I had a good chance of winning it," she says, "And would you believe it, I won the mega-finals. It was in that 'SRGM' episode that Bhansaliji noticed me. And what impressed him was the fact that I was singing his favourite song, a Meera bhajan."

Her first professional recording was an experience she'll always cherish, says the young singer. "I went to the recording studio and Sanjayji and composer Ismail Darbarji asked me to get comfortable with the mike. They then asked me to get acquainted with the song, which was 'Bairi Piya' and sing it casually. After I finished singing the song, they revealed to me that it was the final take. Sanjay uncle was so happy he gave me a hug. He then told me that had I been informed beforehand that it was the final take, I would have become conscious, and maybe not sung it confidently."

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Besides 'Bairi Piya' and 'Silsila Yeh Chahat Ka', Shreya has sung 'Chhalak Chhalak' and 'Dola Re Dola'. Which is her favourite song? "I like every song. Every song of the film is appealing. There's versatility in the score. Though Ismailji's score is classically inclined, according to the theme of the film, and there are some mujras, there are peppy songs too, though not with a techno beat. 'Maar Daala' is already being liked and other songs too should endear themselves to the people." But she must be having a preference for some number? Thinking a bit, she answers, "Yes, I like 'Dola Re Dola', the competition dance number bewteen Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai."

So after the classy songs of 'Devdas', will she sing the racy, 'What is Mobile Number' kind of songs too? "I don't think I'd like to sing such songs, though they are the youthful kind of songs, and preferred by the masses. The words of a song matter to me and they should be meaningful. I am very image-conscious," she explains, "And after the high standard of songs in 'Devdas', I don't think anybody would approach me with these 'Mobile Number' kind of songs."

Like all upcoming singers, Shreya too idolises Lata Mangeshkar. "Nobody can surpass her," the singer gushes, "And I just love Rafiji and Talat Mehmood, whose voice quality is unmatchable. Also, I like Ashaji's (Bhosle) adas and nakhras."


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