Mamta Sharma, the voice behind the phenomenal Munni Badnaam Hui track from the 2010 blockbuster Dabangg, has proved she is Bollywood's kitschy new talent and is here for the long haul. Tinku Jiya from Yamla Pagla Deewana and Dil Ka Achaar from Bin Bulaye Baraati have become north Indian wedding anthems and their singer has carved a cozy niche for herself in the ever changing Indian music industry. She spoke to IBNLive on what fuelled her success and on her being nominated for the most appreciated female playback singer at the Global Indian Music Awards to be held in Delhi; where she is in competition with seasoned singers such as Usha Uthup and Sunidhi Chauhan.
Q: Although you have won most of the prestigious music awards, but still I guess, it could have not been easy for you to make a place for yourself in a competitive industry.
A: You know, it feels good, when you get an award, but it feels really great, when you see your name taken in league with proven masters. I am extremely thankful to those who have nominated my name for the award. It gives the feeling of being recognized.
Q: How are you coping with this sudden found celebrity status post 'Munni'?
A: It's true that people recognize me on roads. Sometimes, they come to me and say that we have seen you on TV. On such occasions, I really wonder that they recognize a face, which appears for a very short period at award functions. Does not that mean that they're keeping an eye on my work? However, as far as I am concerned, I haven't changed a bit. I am still the same girl, who enjoys singing.
Q: Does it bother you, when Malaika steals the show by performing, while the singer does not get the due?
A: I don't think anybody can take anyone's due. You will certainly get noticed if your work is good. In fact, it really helps, if an established actor or face is performing on your item number. You know, our films have to be all filmy. Maa- baap, milna-bichudana, hero-villian, usi tarh hai item number. Bada actor perform karega toh singer apne aap famous ho jayega. (Mother-father, union-parting, hero-villain, same is the item number. The singer will automatically get famous if a big actor will perform on the song).
Q: You are not new to singing; you have had an experience of Bhojpuri and Rajasthani music industries.
A: You know what? I am not that Mamta Sharma that is featured as a Bhojpuri singer on the Internet. Many people have come to me even before and have asked me the same question. But I want to make it clear that I am not that Mamta Sharma, who is featured on the internet as Bhojpuri singer. She is someone else. Even I am trying to find out who she is. Let me know too, if you find her.
Q: That means you have never sung any Bhojpuri songs? Probably, people draw the conclusion that both the Mamtas are same because your voice has a 'desi' touch to it.
A: Even I think so. Yes, I have done singing for regional music industry. I have done singing for Venus and regional music directors like Sathish Ajay, but all of them were virgin songs that are pure in lyrics and in meaning. I only sing what I enjoy.
Q: Did you face any difficulties in getting singing assignments due to your gravelly voice?
A: You see, every singer has his or her own different style. They should have it. Their different approach and 'X' factor make them excel. Similarly, their tone and voice texture help them in finding the right songs. Music directors select your voice for its different qualities.
Q: But there was a time when singers with husky voices were not preferred for playback singing.
A: That is true, but I must be very grateful to Sunidhi Chauhan, who opened the gate for singers like us. She was the one who started doing mellow and fusion numbers. She established item songs and a voice different than the traditional ones. Can you imagine any other singer doing justice to 'tere haath mein' or 'Sheila ki jawani'. Richa Di (singer Richa Sharma) has also done her bit in this regard. Usha Jee was always there, remember 'ye raat ka jo nasha hai'. And, that does not restrict me as a singer. That is just an asset. I am comfortable with any scale and I can modulate according to the situation. High pitched, rustic with desi touch, bassy, anything. I keep the situation in mind before singing.
Q: So, there must be actors, better suited for your voice.
A: I have really enjoyed lending my voice to Malaika ma'am, and I am going to do the same again. Other than her, I think my voice will really suit Vipasha and Shilpa. They have the different kind of body structure and persona.
Q: Did you realize it while training as a jagran singer?
A: See, I have graduated to a playback singer from a jagran singer. I moved to orchestra only after doing a lot of jagran singing. I am singing since I was 10. I came to Mumbai, once I realized my destiny, that too, without any godfather. But, it happened due to my faith on god.
Q: How did Dil Ka Achar from Bin Bulaye Baraati happen?
A: Ohh, Anand Raaj Anand is really a fun person to work with. He is always ready with replacement words and new tunes. He will make a tune instantaneously and the singer also does not feel any difficulty in getting the groove. Similarly, Anu Malik is very quick and concentrates a lot on the singer.
Q: Of course, people have seen Anu's spontaneity on TV, by the way what do you think about the reality shows based on singers and songs?
A: There is no doubt that the platform they are providing is very good but I have some concerns. What they are promoting is just competition, rather than promoting talents. They are creating performers rather than the artists. Media hype is good for any new comer but nurturing the real talent is also necessary. There should not be any compulsion about the artists. And most importantly, nobody cares to follow where the singer is, once the show is over. So, we need the right format.
Q: Our readers would love to know about your future projects also.
A: I have some sizzling item numbers in the line up. I have recorded a song for Lalit Sahay again in 4084. Similarly, I am singing for Bappi Da in Society Kaam Se Gayi and for Anu Malik in Gali Gali Mein Shor Hai. I am singing songs in regional languages like Tamil, Telugu and Bengali too.