Thursday, May 30, 2024

What happened with Amar Singh Chamkila is incredibly tragic- Singer Hamsika Iyer (Exclusive Interview)

Edited by – Robin Bhuyan (Editor-in-Chief) 

Written by – Reetika Choudhury 

Interviewed by – Darshita Gupta 

Hamsika Iyer is a talented and versatile Indian playback singer, who has gained fame with hits like “Chammak Challo” and “1234 Get on the Dance Floor”. Starting her career in ad commercials, her dynamic voice has captivated audiences, making her a sought-after artist in Bollywood. Beyond Bollywood, she has showcased her musical prowess in various other regional songs. Hamsika’s passion for music and commitment to excellence has made her a well-known and beloved figure in the realm of Indian music. Join us in a conversation with her, as we talk about her inspirations, her journey, the impact of A.I., and her thoughts regarding Indian music winning Oscars and Grammy Awards. 

First of all, we would like to congratulate you on your Holi song “Rangbaazi”. Can you please share with us how you got inspiration for this song?

Holi, the festival of colors, is eagerly awaited by people of all ages, and I personally love it. Recently, Rahul B. Seth, someone I’ve known for a long time, approached me for the song. When I heard the phrase “Pichkari rang bhaare balloon se boli”, it really resonated with me. I felt a connection with this line, and I told Rahul, “I want to sing this song. I’m not even asking you; I’m telling you.” It was so cutely written and such a catchy song! Everything happened organically, and it just clicked with me.

As an artist, what challenges have you faced in your life?

I come from a family with a background in music, specifically Carnatic Music. My father was my primary teacher. Since childhood, I have been trained in Carnatic Music, and later on, my parents realized that I should also learn Hindustani Music. Throughout my school days, I was trained in both types of music. Academically, I wasn’t very strong, so my first love in school was sports, followed by music. Growing up with two elder brothers, my personality leaned towards the “tomboy” type, and my childhood was dominated by sports. However, as I grew older, after finishing school, I turned towards music and never looked back at sports.

How was your journey in the industry?

I began my journey through ad commercials, through which I met various musicians, music composers, and directors. One day, I was shooting for an advertisement with music composer Shantanu Moitra. While working with him, he wrote a song for me, “Chanda re” for the film Eklavya. It gained popularity among music lovers, and soon after, I received a call from Vishal & Shekhar. My first song with them was “Chammak Challo”, for Ra.One which was a huge hit. I didn’t face many struggles, whether it was in TV commercials or music composing. I always believed in ‘going with the flow’, no matter what happened.

Any bad or negative experience you had?

No, there weren’t any negative experiences. We had a lot of fun shooting it. Kareena Kapoor is a vibrant actress, and we had to bring out that charm for her. “Chanda re” was a lullaby, so we needed to convey that emotion for a mother. “Chammak Challo”, on the other hand, was something different, and when I heard it, I knew it would be a blast, a fabulous song.

How was your experience with Vishal & Shekhar throughout this journey?

It was really nice; I enjoyed a lot working with them. They gave me complete freedom. They explained the structure of the song to me, and then allowed me to bring my own magic to it. I am very fortunate to have had the chance to work with them. After “Chammak Challo”, I got the opportunity to sing “1,2,3,4 Get on the Dance Floor” for another popular film, “Chennai Express”. Following that, “Raabta” happened, and I received much love and appreciation for it as well. “Raabta” was different from my other songs; it had a softer tone, and I had to convey the emotions of a character deeply in love, unable to express it. It was beautifully written by Amitabh Bhattacharya.

Your songs “Chammak Challo” and then “1234 Get on the Dance Floor” were very popular. Was there any particular good or bad experience you want to share?

There weren’t any bad experiences. There was a slight tension about whether I could do justice to their trust. During “1234 Get on the Dance Floor”, when I finished singing, Vishal supervised my part. After I was done, as I was about to leave the studio, he stopped me and asked me to supervise his part. These were some of the best moments.

How was your experience working with internationally renowned singer Akon, and how did he become a part of this film?

Sadly, I didn’t have the chance to meet him. But I have put it out into the universe, praying that it will happen one day. At that time, there was a craze among youngsters, I think Shah Rukh Khan himself is a fan of Akon, and that’s how he became part of the movie’s most popular song.

You’ve sung in many languages; how do you prepare for languages you’re not familiar with?

Over the years, working in the advertisement field, I’ve had the opportunity to sing in 10-12 languages. Supervisors usually come to train you so that you can sing perfectly. I love singing in different languages and being open-minded helps. As a playback singer, you need to embody the character and language supervisors train you so you understand the meaning. Sometimes, I’m not familiar with certain words, but due to my hectic schedule, I have to manage. I love different languages; India is a country of multiple dialects, and both food and song are my favorites!

From your projects, which one was your personal favorite, and is there anything you regret in your career?

I can’t choose between my songs; every song is special to me. Recently, in 2019, I lost my father, but I choose to celebrate him because his teachings and way of life have inspired me. In 2020, during the Covid situation, I collaborated on a Carnatic song that I learned from him, which is very special to me. Two of my songs released in 2020 and 2021, “Mathangi” and “Bhagvan Karthik”, are very special because they were inspired by my father. I have no regrets or bad experiences in my work. Sometimes I get calls for projects that aren’t in my zone, and I politely decline because I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the work.

Has it ever happened that you had high expectations for a song, but it didn’t meet them?

There is a song “Khoya Khoya Chand”, for a film by Sudhir Mishra. Santanu Mitra composed the music, and Swanand Kirkire wrote it; it had a jazzy feel. Music lovers loved my song “Khushboo Sa”, but somehow, the film didn’t meet expectations.

What are your opinions on vulgar or double meaning songs, which have become quite popular?

It all depends on the directors and situations. Thankfully, I haven’t been involved in such work. There are many double meaning songs today, but I don’t relate to them.

What are your views on the “Chamkila” movie, about the famous singer Amar Singh Chamkila?

I haven’t watched it yet, but I plan to in a day or two. I think Diljit has won hearts, and along with Parineeti, they’ve done their job and homework properly. It’s really sad what happened to the singer Amar Singh Chamkila, and his story should be told.

Talking about movies, have you watched the movie “Animal“, which has gained a lot of controversy?

No, I haven’t. I don’t prefer watching films that contain too much violence and toxicity.

There are many such movies, both in India and abroad, that I don’t prefer watching due to their content. It’s just a personal choice.

Is there any singer or musician whom you consider your idol?

There are many people in my life who have been my inspiration. In Carnatic Music, M. S. Subbulakshmi Ji, K. V. Narayanaswamy Ji, and many others, and from the world of Hindustani music, Kishori Amonkar Ji, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab, they are among my idols. They each have their own unique style and are truly magical. In Bollywood, I have always admired Kishore Kumar, and no one can match him!

Are there any present-day singers whom you think highly of?

There are quite a few – Arijit Singh, Swanand Kirkire, and Vishal, to name a few. Many singers are exceptionally talented and have received beautiful training. Personally, I’m a huge fan of KK; he is at the top of my list. I was deeply saddened when news of his passing came out in the middle of the night, and all my cousins and friends started texting me. It was a really sad moment for all of us.

This year, India won multiple Grammy awards, and last year, India won an Oscar for the song “Naatu-Naatu“. Do you think such awards lend credibility to Indians at the international level?

Yes, I believe so. The world has become smaller today due to globalization. Indian songs are loved globally, especially since there are many Indians living abroad. I’ve noticed during my performances that foreigners really groove to Indian rhythms and melodies. Winning awards at the international level is a big deal and adds to the hype. Classical musicians like Pt. Ravi Shankar Ji and Zakir Hussain have put Indian music on the global map. Nowadays, many collaborations happen, and it’s a great way to appreciate both types of music.

Are you concerned about AI negatively impacting the careers of musicians? What steps do you think should be taken?

AI is a slippery slope, and I really hope it doesn’t take off because many talented and hardworking artists would be affected. I hope AI doesn’t take away the livelihood of creators, musicians, and instrumentalists. Additionally, AI can’t replicate the magic of live performances. The feeling of happiness when you come to the studio to record your song is unmatched. I’ve seen some AI-generated songs on social media, and it feels odd. Personally, I’m not in favor of AI, and I doubt many others in the industry would welcome it.

What are three things you think should be changed in Indian music?

Many changes have already been made. Nowadays, a lot of independent music is being released, and I think that’s a positive trend. One thing I would like to see is for the Filmfare Awards, which happen every year, to include folk musicians. Folk music doesn’t always get the appreciation it deserves.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Learn music – learning never goes to waste. Be a student all your life, no matter what you achieve, and keep dreaming. Focus on your craft and enjoy the journey, including the failures, with grace. Keep training and learning. You can start your own channel on YouTube if you don’t get any other opportunities elsewhere. Everything is just one click away. Be a student and be open to learning!

Related articles

error: Content is protected !!