In the city: A singer in fashion

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In the city: A singer in fashion

It was early 2003 when Shruti Pathak decided to pack up her things and set off from her home in Ahmadabad to Mumbai to follow her dream of becoming a professional singer in the notoriously impregnable world of Bollywood.

By David Light

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Published: Wed 12 Aug 2009, 2:05 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:07 PM

The down to earth performer was under no illusion that the journey would be easy, but staunch determination and belief was all she needed to settle down and work tirelessly towards her goal.

In the beginning a few television gigs and remixes came her way, but a chance recording session with Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, the composer brothers behind the soundtracks of movies including Chak De! India and Bhoot, propelled her into the big time when they asked her to perform a number on their latest score for Fashion.

It has been a continuing success story for Shruti ever since, so we decided to get insight into her rise to fame and where she is headed.

After being on the scene in Mumbai for six years, how does it feel to have your songs featured in hits such as Fashion and Luck?

Six years is a long time, but I feel it was worth the wait. Mar Jaawaan is a song to die for. I couldn’t have asked for a better tune as a debut as it has brought me everything including a nomination in the most popular award ceremony in India. I feel lucky to have performed numbers such as Jee Le from Luck and Paayaliya from Dev D. Each song is different from the other. It’s a dream come true for me. I feel blessed!

What were the early days like when you moved from your hometown to Mumbai? Did you ever want to go home?

Of course, I missed my hometown and my family. It’s not easy to come from a small town to pursue big dreams in a big city like Mumbai and start from scratch without any support. I would always look for opportunities to run back to Ahmedabad in the beginning. But now, thankfully, Mumbai feels more like home.

At what point did you feel settled in Mumbai and the career you had chosen? Talk us through your big break.

Before Mar Jaawaan I was around Mumbai doing bits and pieces. By the time the song eventually came to me I felt I had done enough and my big break was due. It just happened really. I had met Salim and Sulaiman (Merchant) before and worked with them on a folk song where Salim discovered a new texture and lower octave tone of mine that even I wasn’t aware of. After that, when they composed Mar Jaawaan, I was their first choice for the track. The rest just followed from there. Now I feel settled here finally!

What made you get into singing? What did your family think then and how do they feel now?

My father realised that I could sing before I did. It was his dream more than mine to take up singing as a career. Therefore, my dad and my entire family always supported and encouraged me to follow my passion. My father, unfortunately, passed away before he saw me make it. It would have been just perfect if he were around to witness these wonderful days, but I’m sure he is still blessing me from the heavens. My family is definitely very happy and proud.

What has been your most exciting career experience to date?

The day I saw the first promo of Fashion accompanied by the Mar Jaawan song on TV.

How does it feel to be recognised? How are you dealing with the newfound fame?

It feels amazing. This is something I always wanted, but I know how to keep myself grounded and respect and value what God has given me.

Do you always want to focus on singing or would you like to get into modelling or acting?

There is nothing I would want to do if I were not singing. Acting and modelling are not my things!

For people that haven’t heard it can you describe your genre of music? Do you have one set style or do you experiment?

My songs from Fashion, Dev D, and Luck are all different and really have to be heard to be described. I have had the opportunity to showcase my styles of singing to the fullest. I would love to keep experimenting with good music rather than sticking to one set style so I do try and experiment.

Who are your influences?

I grew up listening to Lataji (Lata Mangeshkar), Ashaji (Asha Bhonsle), Rafi Sahab (Mohammed Rafi) and Kishore Kumar’s songs, so it goes without saying that they have inspired me. Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan and Kavita Krishnamurti have also majorly influenced me. I also listen to a lot of western singers and musicians. They have helped me a lot in many ways.

Is there anyone you would love to work with in the entertainment world? Why?

I always wanted to work with Salim and Sulaiman and that dream is fulfilled. Now, I’m desperately waiting to work with AR Rahman, Vishal-Shekhar and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the great music and masterpieces that these people come up with?

Do you have a specific message with any of your songs?

I have been fortunate to get many songs, which have touched the hearts of many. To reach out to people is my only message.

How have the people in the entertainment industry welcomed you? Have you made any famous friends?

The people in the music industry have been very warm and welcoming. Many of them have seen and helped me through this beautiful journey of mine. They are all very dear friends and I will treasure them forever.

What do you do in your spare time? What is your perfect day?

I laze around at home, listen to a lot of music, write, cook or hang out with friends. Home is completely my space.

What advice would you give someone who is trying to follow in your footsteps? Is there anything you would have done differently?

I’m sure everyone who has been there and done it will agree with me, all one needs to do is have a lot of passion and faith in what you are doing. Practice and hard work are also things you can’t neglect.

What have you got coming up? Would you consider coming over to Dubai? Have you ever been here?

My upcoming project is a beautiful semi-classical number from Karan Johar’s next film starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. That’s something I’m really looking forward to. I have been to Dubai a few times but every time is a brand new experience and I surely want more of them. It’s a terrific place and I love it!

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