The singer takes us through her recent multi-lingual hits and what fans can expect from the upcoming concert.
A mesmerizing singer who has regaled us over the years with hits like Bairi Piya, Agar Tum Mil Jao, Yeh Ishq Hai, Teri Meri and many more, 38-year-old Shreya Ghoshal is heading to the UAE for a special Eid concert that will showcase her spectacular multi-lingual repertoire spanning two decades.
No stranger to performing on our shores, the soft-spoken singer in a Zoom conversation expressed her excitement at taking to the stage once more in Dubai, for Shreya Ghoshal – Live in Dubai at the Coca-Cola Arena on Saturday, May 7.
The popular vocalist most recently performed in the city at Expo 2020 Dubai, her first show after the pandemic and an experience she said was “humongous”.
“I felt very happy and very honoured. India was so well represented in this Expo. The same venues were shared by the likes of Coldplay and AR Rahman, myself and all the Indian artists.”
Calling Dubai “the melting pot of all cultures and all languages”, Shreya said it was “wonderful to see how all parts of the world come to this one place and feel well-recognised.”
She referred to the Expo gig as “a great start to this new chapter of my life” adding that she was looking forward to her maiden performance at the Coca-Cola Arena.
“That (Expo) was a very open-air kind of venue and this is a proper arena. So of course the feel of this show will be much different,” she shared.
Excitement is no doubt building amidst her huge local fan base for the upcoming concert and Shreya said they can expect “a fabulous musical celebration marking the occasion of Eid”.
Expressing how there were always new songs to add to a set list, especially when one hadn’t performed live for a while, Shreya also remarked on her “beautiful journey” of 20 years in the Indian playback singing industry.
“My first film, Devdasreleased in 2002. It’s actually tough to bring all the songs in one concert, but I’m going to try my best to have flavors of all the years that have been important to me.”
Language is no barrier
Among the new songs that Shreya added to her impressive repertoire recently is Koi Nidiya Kiyawa trilingual love song with Assamese singer-composer Papon which has racked up over 8 million views on YouTube so far.
Papon, Shreya said, had been calling her for some time to collaborate on this track but because she was busy with her new role in life as a mother (she gave birth to her son on May 22, 2021), it took a while for her to respond. She finally recorded just a few days before the celebration of the Bihu festival in Assam which Papon had intended the release to coincide with.
Recalling the experience, she said, “Papon is a friend and we gel so well on every level; he’s a fabulous musician and a fabulous person. So to work with him was like… woh to paanch minute mein ho gaya gaana but hum log ne itna gupshup kiya (the song was recorded in five minutes but we indulged in so much chatter).
The song’s uniqueness stems from the fact that it was recorded in three languages spoken in Assam — Assamese, Bodo and Tiwa, and Shreya, who was singing an Assamese song after years, called Koi Nidiya Kiyaw “conceptually beautiful”.
Fans have marveled at Shreya’s ability to render hits in different Indian languages. She told us that “language has never been a barrier” when it comes to her craft.
“I live for this excitement! Every language has a very beautiful flavor. To be very honest, I feel regional cinema and regional music have always been one step of Hindi (music). Somehow the commercial part of it is still not so overpowering, the decision making of how the song should be. Creative minds still have more of an upper hand and freedom in creating masterpieces.”
She added how she always tries to balance out her work in different sectors of the music industry, whether it’s singing in Hindi, the South Indian languages, Bengali (her mother tongue) or more.
She gave an example of two new Marathi hits she has in her kitty – To Chand Rati and Chandraboth from the film Chandramukhi. She called To Chand Rati “a dark and beautiful romantic melody” and Chandra “a representation of the style of ‘lavani’ that is so beautiful and interesting”.
Concentration on diction and pronunciation is required, she said, to give 100 per cent to singing in multiple languages. “It should not sound alien to anyone, even if I don’t know the language. So I put in a little extra hard work to sing these songs, but the end result is always so much more satisfying.”
The fan factor
Shreya recently toured London much to the delight of her fans there who flooded social media with video clips from her performances.
She said it was a “relief” to be back on the road again. “Taking flights and reaching venues… it’s like old times are back. I think we had taken a lot for granted. And right now, it’s the small things that are so valuable; the fact that I am going to come to Dubai and perform at the Coca-Cola Arena — I am giving my mind and heart and whatever time that I have in the day to planning it.”
Talking about how “every artist missed being on stage” during the pandemic, she emphasized that getting back to performing live has been important for her mental health.”
Meeting and interacting with audiences at shows gives her the “actual feedback” of songs she spent hours recording in studios.
“When I blood Jab Saiyaan (from Gangubai Kathiawadi) on my London tour, the response I got was humongous and I felt so happy that this new song has already been given so much love. It feels like the whole loop closes for every song that I sing, when you see the people for whom you are working in front of you, and sing for them.”
She hopes to keep doing “interesting and different music” in the coming years to keep her “mind energized” and her fans engaged.
“I don’t make plans at all actually; I live in the moment. It’s an impulsive reaction to opportunities that come my way, or something that I honestly feel I should do. I just react like that and keep working.”
Shreya Ghoshal – Live in Dubai
Where: Coca Cola Arena
When: Saturday, May 7
Tickets: coca-cola-arena.com, Platinumlist and BookMyShow