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Interviews |  03 Jan 2019 16:02 |  By RnMTeam

Independent music has freedom but singing in Bollywood is big, says singer Sumedha Karmahe

MUMBAI: Like the song’s title, Toota Jo kabhi Tara, singer Sumedha Karmahe’s career has also been a lucky one. In spite of ups and downs, the budding singer has got a lot of potential to show. Sumedha, who embarked on her musical journey by becoming one of the contestants of popular music reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2007, is currently one of the juries on the panel of the show that turned 23 this year. Though hailing from Chhattisgarh, Sumedha has her roots in Bihar. She talks about her musical journey in an exclusive interview with Radioandmusic.

How did the bug of singing bite you?

I started singing as well as performing when I was three. It was actually my inability to speak at that age, which led to the same. For me communication was always a problem and I use to speak through signs, but I could memorise the lyrics of the song. I belong to Rajgandha, Chattisgarh, where people from the town knew that there is a small girl who sings as I participated in various competitions, including inter-school. But until the age of 15-16, I wasn’t clear if singing would be my profession. But, during that time, there was a competition in Chhattisgarh and I sang in front of legends, whose appreciation motivated me to pursue singing as my career.

When did your musical journey actually begin?

I gave auditions for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2007, got selected and reached the top five and my life changed after the show. After Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, for two years, I had a contract with Zee. I did a lot of shows during this period while going with the flow. But, it was only after two-three years, I thought on exactly what I want to do because it took me a lot of time to understand how the industry works. There was a gap of three-four years, when I didn’t sing any film songs. During that time, I focussed on independent music. I did singles, collaborations etc. I also did a lot of reality shows between 2008 and 2012. But, it was in 2016, I got a big break in the form of the popular song, Toota Jo Kabhi Tara from Flying Jatt. After this song, I got some good songs and videos to work on. And now I am one of the juries on the music reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.

Can you tell us about your journey from a contestant in 2007 to one of the jury members on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2018?

Being associated with Sa Re Ga Ma Pa stage is very different for me, be it as a contestant, as a performer or as a jury member on the show. I remember, when the show had started for the very first time, I used to follow it. I also told my mom that I want to sing on TV. I wanted to perform on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’s stage at least once in my life and luckily I did for several weeks together. And now, from being a contestant in 2007 and now one of the jury members is like an achievement.

How different has been your experience as a jury member on the show?

It’s different. There was one round were all the supreme juries performed with the top 15 contestants. Although I performed with Renuka and was encouraging her, but on that stage, whenever I have performed, as a contestant as well as a jury member, I have always been nervous.

We know the mindset of the contestant as we have gone through it. But, the contestants, today, are very experienced and understanding, while we were quite new to the concept as there were not much reality shows during that time. They are also aware about the kind of song selection that works, performing on the stage and judgement criteria etc as they have seen it on TV on various reality shows. Hence, we don’t have to tell them much.

Who is your favourite contestant from the current season of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa?

In this season, Rajvinder - the girl from Punjab, is a very good singer. She sings classical also.

How was your experience of working with Sachin-Jigar on ‘Toota Jo Kabhi Tara’?

Sachin-Jigar are one of the most versatile musical composers we have in the music industry. They exactly know, what they want from a singer, the kind of voice, tone is required for a particular song.

The song, Toota Jo Kabhi Tara, which you hear is not the final dubbing as I never recorded the final version. It is the demo-scratch version, I had recorded. Actually, the song was recorded one year before in Sachin and Jigar sir’s voice. But, after a year, my demo version was chosen as the final song. We did try different tones for the song. Jigar sir told me that the hook line Toota Jo Kabhi Tara will be present in the song only if that magic is felt in your voice and luckily that happened.  Months later, I got to know that the male vocals are of Atif Aslam. It was like the perfect fan moment as I am fan and had also shared stage with him earlier.

Do you think independent music has a future in India?

For a past few years, the timing was not good for independent music, but I believe, for every type of music genre in India, there is a set of audience. In India, singing in Bollywood is a big thing. When I came to Mumbai, my dream was to become both playback singer and a pop singer. Independent music has freedom for writing as well as singing whatever you want and convey to your set of audience. You don’t have any pressure or your work is not limited to the director’s requirement. This is the reason I like independent music very much. Though I am currently not able to do more independent projects, I am looking forward for many collaborations, my 2019 goal will be this.

According to you, what is the difference between Bollywood and independent music?

It’s a tough question as both are important. Bollywood is like a religion in India. Hence, while one genre is for fame (Bollywood), the other is for satisfying your soul (independent music).

What are your upcoming projects?

There are one or two film songs, which may release in 2019, but I cannot confirm any as of now as things usually change at the last minute. There are also two Bengali songs, I have sung, one is an independent single while one is for a short film. It will be my first independent Bengali music video that might release in January 2019 and I am actually excited as I love singing in Bengali.

Any striking thing, you experienced in 2018?

One thing that happened with me in 2018 is classical music. I had not taken any formal classical training, earlier. Hence, in 2018 I have been attending many classical events because I heard from certain classical musicians that if one wants to learn and develop interest in this genre, they must attend live classical events. And it is true as all the live concerts, I attended, were magical. They are literally addictive as these events go on for about eight to ten hours continuously. I hope I get a chance to learn in 2019.

Besides, travelling is another thing I did in 2018, different from my regular travel to and fro to the venues. . I went to Dronagiri Uttarakhand, which was indeed a spiritual retreat. We use to go on treks.

Lastly, what message do you want to give to your fans?

Be happy in your life, musical and positive.