Raja Kumari is one of the most popular singers and rappers in India. With the rise of independent music, she has become the face of the change in today’s music. She has chosen a path that’s not taken that often and has made a name for herself not just in India but across the globe.
She is in the news of late for having sung the title track for ‘Jawan’, starring Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role. The ace singer, in an earlier interview, opened up about what kept her away from the lure of playback music. Also, she talks about some advice that she can give to all youngsters who dream of becoming a playback singer in the film industry. Excerpts from the candid chat:
What has kept you away from the lure of singing in conventional Bollywood movie songs? Why don’t we hear you often there?
I prefer selecting projects that align with my sensibilities. Honestly, all the Bollywood projects I’ve been a part of came about because the music directors reached out to me or someone like Sharu contacted me. Back when I did Race, I remember receiving their call. I believe it’s because when Bollywood requires a distinct tone, a strong female attitude, a particular vocal quality, they get in touch with me. This provides me with creative freedom, which I value greatly. When I create music, maintaining creative freedom is essential to me. I enjoy interpreting melodies, altering lyrics, and even composing my own lyrics. In all the Bollywood songs I’ve contributed to, whether it’s Vakara Swag, Husna Parcham, or any other, I’ve written my portions. This approach is somewhat uncommon in this industry, as playback singing usually involves singing pre-written lyrics. I will likely veer away from traditional playback singing. However, I’m enthusiastic about continuing to collaborate with Bollywood more and more. I’ve had the privilege of working with great talents like AR Rahman and Ajay-Atul, among others. The experience has been incredible, and I don’t intend to cease. I want to continue offering my strong female vocals whenever needed. I have a deep affection for Bollywood, so I have no problem being a part of it.
Every day hundreds of singers come from smaller towns or from other countries to India and try their luck in the film and music industry here. What should one do in order to make an impact or create a niche for themselves so that they get noticed by the labels?
I don’t possess the best advice for playback singers. I find that realm to be quite challenging. Even established playback singers, I’ve heard, record their parts, and someone else might re-record them. You might not even know if your vocals will be used until the final release. To me, that’s quite stressful. For instance, if someone contacts me, I write the lyrics. They can’t have someone else sing my words because I’m the songwriter. Therefore, my advice for individuals from smaller towns would be to focus on honing their craft. Similar to how many people go to Los Angeles to become independent musicians, numerous individuals come to India to pursue singing. So, my suggestion is to concentrate on your craft. Don’t worry excessively about the peripheral elements. It bothers me that people believe having followers and trendy outfits will make them a singer – it won’t. Playback singing centres on your voice. Hence, I’d recommend dedicating your efforts to improving your vocal skills. It’s worth noting that some individuals have achieved success by posting cover songs online. However, I’m uncertain if I’m the best person to offer advice on this matter because my journey took a different path. I created my own style, showcased it, and I remained true to myself. I faced various challenges head-on and emerged as my authentic self. So, my ultimate advice is to stay true to yourself, be authentic. I might not be the best source of advice for playback singers.