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Last Updated 13.10.2019 | 8:29 PM IST
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Share some Spunk & Sizzle with Anushka Manchanda, the Golmaal Girl

Anushka Manchanda

In a short span of three years, Anushka Manchanda has made the grade as playback singer

. She’s also just won the finale of Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi in sync with her latest crop of songs in films like Aladin, Do Knot Disturb and Chintuji with Kites and Dulha Mil Gaya to come. Clearly, the feisty crooner’s speeding on the highway to success



She’s suddenly in the spotlight. Grins Anushka, “Yeah, things are looking up!” says the singer. “This year’s been great for me. I have had Welcome to Hollywood in Kambakkht Ishq, the title-song of Chandni Chowk to China, Lagaa le in Luck, O sexy mama from 13-B and now Bebo and the title-track of Do Knot Disturb and of course Genie rap in Aladin with Amitabh Bachchan as my co-singer. I am now singing two songs for Lalit Pandit in Dulha Mil Gaya, a duet with Vishal Dadlani in Kites, which is in English and will be probably filmed on Barbara Mori and I am also singing in Raat Gayi Baat Gayi, an interesting film directed by Ankur Tiwari.”


2009 has indeed been eventful for the girl, whose entry into playback singing happened in 2006 under Vishal-Shekhar with the title-track of Golmaal – Fun Unlimited and created waves for the singer who first came into the spotlight with the Channel [V] pop talent hunt winners Viva, India’s first all-girls’ band. Three of the five band members (they split several years ago) came back recently to record We are the teen queens, a song for Aamras.


How nostalgic was that moment? “Well, one member had broken away right at the start,” she explains. “Pratichee, however, is my best friend today – our homes are two minutes away from each other’s. Mahua too is like a little sister to me – though we are not in frequent contact, we do meet randomly and end up doing the same shows. Music director Shamir Tandon felt that since the three girls who played friends in the film were teenagers it was apt that we three come together again for the song. And frankly, we had fun.”


But if there were no hassles between them, why did Viva split? “Oh, we got fed up of each other!” says Anushka. “There was a fourth member who stabbed us in the back. I guess there was too much of a feeling of being let down. Personal and professional lives had to be segregated, I guess. But I have no regrets. We all grew as people and as artistes, and it’s very difficult to say how things would have been if we had remained together.”


How did she get into the band to begin with? “Oh, that’s what I always wanted to do. My parents were heavily into rock and would take me to concerts very frequently. So I always wanted to be in a rock band. I learnt the piano for seven years. I was barely out of school when Viva happened.”


Anushka is pretty cool about her career. “I am not greedy, I think that things have worked pretty well for me so far,” she declares. “I became a Channel [V] VJ after we broke up and I enjoyed that stint. But that sent the wrong signals that I was not singing playback anymore. Today, I want to sing good songs well, not necessarily be the busiest singer in the business.”


So she is not really concerned that after Golmaal – Fun Unlimited, in which Vishal-Shekhar allowed her to improvise the song in her own style, she did not get flooded with work in Hindi films. “I got a lot of work in Tamil films. Yuvan Shankar Raja gave me my Tamil break and after that I sang for most of the big names down South like Harrys Jairaj, Sandeep Chowta and others.”


Anu Malik’s title-song from Zindaggi Rocks and the title-song of Maan Gaye Mughal-E-Azam followed, along with Victory and Karle gunaah from Ugly Aur Pagli. “I must say that Anu Malik is very different from the others,” she says. “Today, we have very few composers who insist on music sittings and rehearsals, teach you the song and then you can go home and take time over perfecting it. This makes you comfortable with the song and you can improvise and do full justice to it.”


Vishal-Shekhar of course remained supportive too with films like Cash and De Taali while despite the change in composer to Pritam, Anushka improved on her Golmaal franchise with Is there a vacancy and Tu saala kaam se gaya in Golmaal Returns. While her list includes Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Salim-Sulaiman, the missing name is A.R.Rahman and Anushka says, “I know that will happen some day. Actually, I lost an opportunity to do a song with him in the Viva album days. I was recovering from nodes in my throat when an opportunity had come,” she says.


Performing has always been an Anushka forte and she has just started her own new band, called Shkabang. “The name has no meaning. We present electro-pop and rock,” says Anushka. The other members include Abhijit Nalani, who arranges and plays keyboards for Vishal-Shekhar and Shiraz Bhattacharya who plays drums with Pentagram, Yohan Pais and Pozy Dhar. “We are all doing well so we have no point to probe. Basically, we just want to get on stage and have fun,” she grins.


Yet, the band is serious enough to carve an identity with an album of their own. “We will be out by the end of the year. We have laid down all the tracks and will record them after they are fine-tuned,” says Anushka.


And Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi – had she expected to win? Smiles the singer, “Oh, I had a blast! It was so much hard work plus being lucky. If you notice, I was the only one who was smiling throughout. I refused to be tense and every morning I would remind Gurmeet that we were to enjoy doing our best that day! Actually, the last stunt had a luck element, and they also kept the results a surprise. I got the show because they approached me – I was in New York then and I said there was no way I was going to turn it down. My partner Gurmeet was fabulous, and now I have something to say to my kids when the time comes – “Mom‘s won Fear Factor, so don’t mess about with me!”


She adds, “Really, I feel blessed! I see so many talents struggling for years and here I am with my first song a hit and so many other good things happening.” Anushka’s very keen that all her diverse activities should not take her away from playback focus. But how will she reconcile her pop-rock interests with playback? Says the singer, “I can do both. Because I am the same person and I do not have to change my personality for that. Credibility as a playback artiste is very important to me, because for someone who began listening to Hindi film music only about six years ago, I have developed tremendous respect for the film industry here.”

Screen India

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