On a personal note with singer Alisha Chinai
| June 11, 2016
Pop singer Alisha Chinai is well known for her albums and playback singing in Bollywood. She has worked with prominent musicians like Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik and Nadeem-Shravan. Her albums like Made in India and Lover Girl were big hits of their time. She gave her voice to actresses like Sridevi, Smita Patil, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Mandakini and Juhi Chawla. One of her biggest filmi hits was the song Kajra Re, for which she received the Filmfare best female playback award in 2005. Disappointed over the payment system for musicians in Bollywood, Alisha feels that singers and musicians should get their fair share of royalty and the payment system needs to be regularised for the industry.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life: My musical influences have been a mix of western and Indian singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Noor Jehan, The Beatles and Barbra Streisand to name a few. As I grew up, I was inspired by Madonna and was inclined towards pop. Furthermore, my ex-husband taught me the business side of the music industry.
How did you decide to take up singing as profession: From my childhood I was encouraged to be a singer. Though my father [a classical singer] tried hard to engage me in classical music, but I realised it wasn’t my cup of tea. Also, I never really saw myself as a playback singer as I wanted to establish an identity of my own.
The trend of releasing albums has gone down. How do you feel about that: Bollywood is a good way to start a career in singing. However, in the long run, if you are a true artist you must release solo songs. That maintains your individuality.
Any advice to aspiring singers: It is not about winning or losing, it’s about not quitting. You have to hang in there and believe in yourself. If you have the talent you will make it.
One thing you wish to change in the music industry: Singers should get their share of royalty. Record companies should start paying artists. This has to be monitored and regularised.
How can the government play a role in regularising this? There is a need for an Act for singers which protects their rights like vocal performer royalty. If the song becomes a hit, record companies stream it online but they don’t give the percentage to the singers and keep it with themselves. There are no digital rights for singers. Also, there is no separate music industry dedicated especially for artists. When you talk about the industry, it is always identified with Bollywood music.
Is the introduction of sound mixing and voice enhancing tampering with talent? There are two sides to technology. One is great and other is the downside. Technology has led bad singers to come up. Even if the singer is out of tune, auto-tune fixes it. The quality degrades.
Biggest challenge that you have faced: I have stopped singing for Bollywood. This is because as soon as I open my mouth to sing, someone else makes the money. India has to follow Hollywood ethics. You will listen to me singing for Bollywood only when things change here. Everything of a movie sells by its songs.
Besides singing you are passionate about: Cooking
Any unfulfilled dreams: Too many. If I could go back in time I would do everything differently.
She is tall, skinny and dark-complexioned. She sports a tattoo of lines and dots on her forehead, as if displaying a hieroglyphic text. Her neck is laden with beaded jewellery and a thick, rusted iron chain while the ears are pierced at two spots. The white sari draped till her knees contrasts with green a
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