“I’m still waiting for a song, which I can call my best!” – Sowmya Raoh

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She’s blessed with a voice that has such a distinct quality you know it the moment you hear it. Gracing both the south and north with her golden voice, Sowmya Raoh has definitely made a special place for herself in the competitive field of music. With the talents of composers such as Sandeep Chowta supporting her and with songs that seem to be a hit with audiences instantly such as ‘Nach Baliye’, she’s one young talent that is raring to go. Read on to find out just how has the journey been for Sowmya thus far and where she intends to go next!

Was singing something you always wanted to do as a career?

I guess so, because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been singing, and didn’t really train myself for anything else, though I managed to complete my graduation.

Which song was your breakthrough into the playback singing industry?

I must say, it was my first full-fledged song from the movie Company’, ‘Aankhon mein raho.’ People in the industry noticed me and I feel, also acknowledged me with that song.

You have sung extensively in the Southern film industries as well. Is there a difference in working in the different music industries?

Not really. The industry is the same everywhere. But musically speaking, the singing styles are different. In Hindi, the inflections and style is Hindustani style based. While in majority of the South Indian songs, since the compositions are so, the style veers more towards Carnatic.

After your hit song for a Telugu film you were proclaimed as the ‘hottest singer’, how did this feel?

Great, naturally.

You’ve sung for some of the most unconventional films of Indian cinema such as Samay, Jungle, Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya and Bollywood Hollywood. Do you think it’s coincidental that your voice was chosen to represent characters from these movies?

Incidentally, the music director for all the above-mentioned movies is Sandeep Chowta and we have worked together for a very long time, even before either of us moved from Bangalore to Bombay. He’s a Big Brother figure in my life, and there’s a great comfort level whenever I’ve sung for him. So, not much of a coincidence there, I reckon.

You also sang one of the chart busters of 2006 ‘Nach Baliye’ did you expect the song to be such a hit and how was it working with the Yash Raj company?

Honestly, when I went to the studios to sing ‘Nach Baliye,’ I was unwell, and since the song was very high-pitched, all my concentration was on my singing. I didn’t pause to think whether the song would be such a big chart buster. But I went back again after a few days for some lyrical correction, and then when I heard it, I felt that it would become popular. And though I have sung very few songs for Yash Raj films, I’ve always received appreciation and support from them.

Among all the composers you have worked with, both in the South and Hindi film industries, with whom have you most enjoyed working with and why?

Without taking names, I must say that, I’ve loved working with composers who acknowledge a singer’s input in a song. A creative artiste thrives on appreciation, and when it comes from the composer himself, it’s rewarding.

Is there a co-singer you really enjoyed working with?

Gone are the days when two singers would record a song together in a studio. We hardly ever bump into our co-singers, in spite of singing a duet together. And whenever we do meet, most singers today are extremely friendly and fun.

Amongst your contemporaries, who is your favourite singer?

Undoubtedly, Sonu Nigam.

What is your favourite song you have ever sung?

I’m still waiting for a song, which I can call My Best, hence, my favourite.

What to you is a bad song?

A song that’s been shoddily done. I always like a job neatly done.

Have you ever composed a song? Could you see yourself as a music director one day?

Yes, I do compose, and that keeps me completely occupied in my free time. I believe that every singer has the ability to compose, because the creativity is already there. But some singers have a composer’s brain, [that is] to say when they put their mind to it. Today, everyone is multi-tasking. You have composers becoming singers. So who knows what the future holds for me? Music direction, perhaps yes …

What is you favourite album?

Miraj-e-ghazal by Ghulam Ali Saab and Asha Bhonsle Ji.

Do you like performing live on stage?

Yes, live performance has its highs.

Do you feel playback singers get the credit that they deserve? Is that changing? Is there more or less credit given to singers in the south film industries?

It’s wonderful to see the kind of overwhelming popularity and respect that Lataji [Lata Mangeshkar], Ashaji [Asha Bhonsle], Rafi Saab [Mohammad Rafi], Kishore Saab [Kishor Kumar] and other singers of that era enjoy even today. But in today’s time, there are very, very few whose name a common man would know, even though he might be humming the same singer’s song!! Earlier, when radio was the only medium where songs were heard, All India Radio announced the name of the composer, singer and lyricist while playing any song, at any point of time. So a singer literally became a household name. But today, when there are so many radio and T.V channels, hardly anyone bothers to mention the name of the singer. There’s too much happening all around us. So it all boils down to, Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai (the one who appears to the audience is the one who sells the product). We have a long way to go before this changes, if it does at all. And as far as I know, it’s the same in the South too.

Do you have any plans to go in front of the camera as an actress?

No such plans.

What inspires you to sing?

A good composition. Or a challenging song, where you have to move out of your comfort zone and push the envelope.

Have you gotten THE song yet?

Not yet, as I said earlier … Am still waiting : )

Well Sowmya we can definitely say that with such conviction and talent there isn’t much stopping to finding THAT very song. BollySpice wishes you all the very best and hopes to see your name in the list of upcoming composers very soon!

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