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<b>New singer Gayathri Iyer</b> New singer Gayathri Iyer

Topic started by fj (@ on Mon Nov 8 23:25:48 EST 2004.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

Interview : Versatile ...Gayatri Iyer

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Life has been on a roll for Gayatri Iyer. Her Bride And Prejudice, in which she is the main playback voice and has sung five songs each in both the English and Hindi versions (Balle Balle! Amritsar To L.A.) under Anu Malik has just been released. Coming up are major films like Kisna, Naach, Page 3 and Tum Ho Na, and of course the film that in a way shaped her career, Sandhya.

“Sandhya’s release may have been delayed but it proved lucky for me,” says Gayatri. “After Anand Raaj Anand and Ranjit Barot gave me ‘Maar gayo re...’, director Sangeeth Sivan took me to Himesh Reshammiya and so I got my first hit, ‘Mohabbat hai mirchi...’ (Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne) last year. As in my husband Kunal’s case, Ranjit Barot has been my mentor both in jingles and films. When Gurinder wanted an Indian voice for the English songs of Bride And Prejudice, both Anu and he unanimously recommended me.”

Gayatri is extremely happy about all the influences that she has been exposed to in music, which honed her talent. “From childhood I have been brought up on film music, light classical and classical as well as a lot of Western music,” she says. “This is a dichotomy we live with in life too, as from clothes to values, every thing is a mix of Indian and Western. I find this era very enriching and exciting.”

Gayatri decided on a musical career midway through MBA in Lucknow.Says the singer. “My original plan was to follow a profession during the week and devote time to music on weekends. But when I realized that those in the field did not even get free time even on holidays I wondered what will happen to my music. And I made the choice of making music my full-time profession.” Gayatri’s first professional break was in a singing part in Final Solution, the Alyque Padamsee play. Neighbour and childhood buddy composer Ram ‘Khakee’ Sampath would frequently use her backing vocals in his albums (like Mohabbat Kar Le and Tanha Dil) and through him I met Pankuj Parashar who introduced me to Anand-Milind.”

In the mid- to late ’90s, Gayatri sang in about eight to ten Anand-Milind films like Insaaf (her debut song ‘Meri jaanejaana, aaja tujhe pyar doon...’was modestly popular),Loafer, Daanveer, Muqadar and the aborted film Indian at the recording of which she was introduced to co-singer Shankar Mahadevan. Through Shankar, Gayatri began her foray into jingles and concentrated in that field till early in the millennium, when she sang for a few films like Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai, Baaz and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah. And after she met Ranjit Barot, she became a big name in the world of ads.

Since 2003, Gayatri has also sung in Chupke Se.., Kismat, Masti,(the album of)Bhoot, Dhoom and Rudraksh. Her forthcoming assignments include Kisna, Elaan and other films. Quite a journey for a girl who is a National level volleyball player and comes from a family of academicians.

“I began learning Carnatic music from the age of five, but I would keep changing teachers,” recalls Gayatri. “Of course, I sang a lot in school and college, where I was an all-rounder. Then while in college I began learning Hindustani music, which I continue to do so even today.”

Gayatri is extremely grateful to her present guru, Babanrao Haldankar. “I take my Walkman along whenever I go to him, and so I have tapes of my conversations with him too,” says the singer. “He always tells me ’Man ke liye gaao. Be involved in your own music.’ He has made me appreciate classical music and its study.”

Gayatri is confident that while retaining her individuality, she will also be able to shake off the Westernized image she has acquired with the songs that are to come. “As a girl who wears jeans and a shirt, I know that I will not be taken seriously if I want to do something in classical music, but I do plan to do something later,” she says.”On the other hand Bollywood gives you recognition, the credibility and thus a platform to do anything you want. Right now, I am content keeping the professional part of my music and my ‘soul food’ in separate compatments.”

At the same time, Gayatri is grateful that Sunidhi Chauhan has paved the way for singers with voices that do not follow the Lata-Asha mould. “I want my voice to be noticed for its presence and Sunidhi has paved the way by opening up opportunities for different kinds of voices,” she feels.

Moving to the personal front, how did Kunal and she hitch up with each other?

“Oh, that’s a long but simple story!” she laughs. “We would be together most of the time, not only with Ranjit for jingles but also as backing vocalists in film songs. We then started spending our spare time together and got along as buddies. If recordings ended late, Kunal would drop me home. My family liked him and told me,‘He is a nice boy. What do you think of him?’ and his family said similar things about me, and we would tell them not to get these funny ideas! We were both clear that unless we developed strong feelings for each other, we would not mix friendship with romance. But we gradually did begin to get drawn to each other, By September 2002, we were sure about each other and we got married in December last year.”

Why have they barely sung together? “That’s true,” she concedes. ‘We did sing backing vocals and jingles by the dozens, and ‘Rak rak rak...’ in Rudraksh. But that’s okay. We are not keen on an image as a singing couple!’

Obviously they prefer off-screen harmony to an on-screen one.

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