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Last Updated 15.11.2019 | 10:20 PM IST
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Richa Sharma sings Bollywood’s longest track

In Ravi Chopra’s Baabul she has crooned the Bidaai song in an unending flow of heart-breaking emotions, for a full fifteen minutes and that too in an improvised outpouring unsupported by any orchestral embellishments. “In fact my composer Aadesh Shrivastavaji had put one traditional instrument. I had to request him to take it out. It was hampering my flow of musical thoughts,” laughs Richa Sharma whose voice soars across the crooning kingdom in meteoric maneuvers. Listen to her do the Bidaai song in BaabulOr the Bitiya song in Umrao JaanOr go back to Baghban’s title song and of course the Kahin aag lage song in Taal.Richa Sharma’s voice rips a hole in your soul. “It’s funny you say that, because I’ve been singing since the age of 8. That’s when I did my first Jagran songs. I still continue to do Jagran songs. They’re my heart-beat. But now of course I’m doing a lot of film songs. I never thought I’d be singing in films. I just didn’t have the heroine’s voice! I thought I’d continue to sing that stray Bhajan or the Bhikhari song that needed a philosophical rendering in a rangy throat. That’s me! Fortunately A.R Rahman’s Kahin aag lage in Taal was picturized on Aishwarya Rai.” Nonetheless Richa’s ravishing range remains restricted to rangy theme songs. Heroine’s voices have so far been associated with one kind of singing. And that’s the Lata Mangeshkar role model. Singers who have emulated that style have always reaped the maximum benefits in the recording room. Those like Alisha Chinai, Jaspinder Nirula and Richa Sharma who have gone against the grain have been put in the fringes. To Richa’s relief and joy things are slowly changing. “And I’ve one amazing singer Sunidhi Chauhan to thank for this. How I adore that girl’s voice! Her deviant voice makes me hopeful about the future for another kind of voice.” What both excites and intrigues Richa is the fact that composers seem to give her a lot of elbow room to improvise. “It’s rather gratifying but also scary. Aadesh Shrivastavji who’s no buzurg but calls me ‘Richa Beta’, always gives me room to innovate tremendously. For the Baabul bidaai song I was given only one brief by Aadeshji. He gave me the words Babul mora naihar chutal jaye. And he just asked me to sing. I sang for 15-16 minutes without any musical accompaniment. Of these only 2-3 minutes have been retained in the soundtrack for lack of space, I guess.” One can hear Richa’s looming regret at her luminous labours being edited so drastically. “I’ve also sung the other number Kehta hai baabul which Jagjit Singhji and Amitabhji have rendered in Baabul. My version has been kept out of the album.” But Richa isn’t complaining. “I won’t say I’m satisfied with my career in film singing. But I’m happy. Whenever I go to a music director there’s a certain look of respect in his eyes. I cherish that above anything else. One of the high points in my career in films as a singer was when I was called by Sanjay Leela Bhansali after he heard me sing Mere maula (one of my own favourite tracks) from the film Khakee. Sanjayji made my day when he said he was looking for me for a long time. I’ve sung a beautiful Thumri for Monty Singh in Sanjayji’s Saawariya. What a pleasure it is to sing for a filmmaker who knows what music is all about.” Richa has an interesting story to tell from her past. At the age of 3 months when she did her baby burp it came out as a musical note. “That’s when my father Pandit Daya Shankarji who was a trained classical singer and who sang at pujas, prophesied that one day his daughter will do him proud. I don’t know how far I’ve lived up to my father’s prophecy. But I’m trying my best.” Richa admits Bollywood hasn’t really decided what to do with her unusually textured voice and stormy range. “But I’ve a place, though that place is restricted by the fact that I’m not the heroine’s voice. Nowadays when I look at the kind of voices that are voted in the televised music contests I wonder what we respect talent or just the ability to ask for votes in a charming way.”

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