|Vasundhara Das - A Versatile Girl
(2) Hey Ram Babe Back With A Song : www.hindustantimes.com
(3) Das the way love goes www.explocity.com
(4) Acting se singing tak : www.strategicnewspapers.com
(5) Boman & The Art Of Non-Stop Laughter : the hindustan times
(6) Vasundhara Das : Close-up : AR Rahman Central
(8) BACK TO HER FIRST LOVE : www.screenindia.com
(9) Taking off on a musical trip : www.hindu.com
Source : www.hclinfinet.com
When she was in school, singer-actress Vasundhara Das was a tomboy with short hair and a lot of spunk. Then came adulthood and her debut film Hey Ram. After that, Vasundhara was back in the news with Meri Jaan, her debut album.
And now, its back to the big screen with Mira Nairs Monsoon Wedding. Just when you think youve figured her out, Vasundhara thinks of a way to surprise you. The 20-something actress made her debut as a traditional wife in Hey Ram, hand-picked by Kamal Hassan, who
thought she fit the role of Maithili to perfection. But that wasnt her ticket to Nairs flick.
Vasundhara, who met Nair through a common friend, says she had to go through a screen test to get the role in Monsoon Wedding. The Iyengar girl from Tamil Nadu will get the opportunity to play a Punjabi kudi in Monsoon Wedding.
The film is about a happy Punjabi family. Naseeruddin Shah plays my father, while Shefali Chaya is my sister. My role in the film is more about how to be, rather than how to act, she says mysteriously, not divulging more.
For Vasundhara, working with Kamal, was a crucial experience. He is just not a director, but an actors director. Being an actor himself, he knows exactly how a scene should be shot. There were times when he would enact a scene just to show us how it could be done, she recalls. For having done just one film, which achieved accolades at the box-office, Vasundharas career is in a great shape.
Apart from Nairs film, Vasundhara has also signed the Tamil film Citizen, a much-coveted role in the industry, considering its opposite the ruling heartthrob Ajith. She has also signed on another Tamil film Aacham Tavir, which stars Madhavan.
Spectacular grey eyes, brown hair and a flawless complexion shouldnt have you fooled. Its just a small part of Vasundhara. Dig deeper and you realise her real talent is her voice. The actress in her emerged by chance, but her music, in many ways, has defined her; Vasundhara began singing at a tender age of 10.
Her range, as reflected in Meri Jaan, is vast. The eight songs draw from musical influences the world over from Arabic strains to a Latino sound. Vasundharas interaction with musicians from around the world, prompted her to learn Latin American and Spanish music, and finally, Spanish itself. But when I approached Magnasound with my demo tape, there was a slight problem.
They wondered what kind of audience to market the album for, she laughs, but adds, there is a song for everyone. While the title song Meri Jaan is about the divinity of love, Bolare is all about consumerism.
Vasundhara is also excited about the fact that playback singing is an important of her portfolio. Shes sung an English song in Aamir Khans mega-venture, Lagaan and now is excited that shes singing for herself in both of her movies Citizen and Aacham Tavir.
In Bollywood, she has lent her voice to the film Aks, with music by Anu Malik. It all began with the hit Shakalaka Baby, composed by A.R. Rahman, which won her the best playback singer award at the Filmfare Awards 1999.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Rahman. And though we are not working on anything right now, but knowing Rahman I can say, he will call me one fine day, and ask me to catch the next flight to Chennai; just like that, she says with a twinkle in her eyes.
Shuttling between Chennai and Mumbai, Vasundhara misses her hometown, Bangalore badly. The other thing she regrets is not having jam sessions with other musicians, which I used to be a part of till sometime ago.
So what does she hold closer to her heart? Vasundhara says, As an artiste, I enjoy both acting and singing, but as a person, music has been my main focus. Before the conversation reaches to an end, Vasundhara informs that shes sung two songs for the Kannada film Neela also.
I have the lyrics written down in my book back home, but the tune goes something like this..., she hums, breaking into a peppy folk song and doing what she loves best.
Hey Ram Babe Back With A Song
(Source : www.hindustantimes.com)
Vasundhara Das takes a long sip of capuccino in the Juhu Centaur coffee shop and drawls lazily, I am finally doing what I enjoy most music. My Indipop debut Meri Jaan (under the Magnasound label) is ready for release in January. It is an eight-track album with a lot of variety in it. It has music by Piyush Mishra, Pravin Mani and Sukhvinder Singh and I have tried really hard to make this album a showcase of my kind of music.
Vasundhara says Meri Jaan has a nice mix. Theres a dash of Arabic in Mera Nishan, some peppy Latin groove in Bolare, the uptempo Aao Yaar, a soft ballad Ghar Mera and Ive tried a bit of bhangra too in Sohni (which is about the Sohni-Mahiwal romance). We presume theres a music video too? Of course. The music video is directed by Shaad Ali and we shot it in Agra, in front of the Taj. We completed it in a day and we had great fun,she says.
Vasundhara who sizzled as Kamal Haasans petite, teenage wife in Hey Ram, says, I have been doing music since I was just ten years old. I trained under Pandit Parameshwar Hedge of the keherwa gharana and was a regular at Bangalore concerts and used to jam at Freedom Jam (something like the Woodstock fest), Bangalore every year. I met Mr A.R. Rehman with a demo tape, hoping that hed give me a chance to sing for him. He did sign me for Shankars Mudalvan (where I sang Shakalaka Baby, which also was the hugest hit in 1999 and won me a popular award) but he also recommended me to Kamalji. I did like Maithili (for those whove missed Hey Ram, thats the name of Vasundharas character)s role a lot and anyway Kamalji is such a phenomenon, so I gave it a shot. I wasnt really angling for a film career, I am an accidental actress, she giggles, tossing her copper curls.
Vasundhara claims, I have always been serious about my musical career. I went to Gandharva Mahavidyalaya to learn Hindustani classical music but had to take off for a year to finish my Bachelors degree (in Statistics and Mathematics, from Karnataka University). I learnt some Spanish, took lessons in flamenco, I can play the guitar and I love performing on stage. Last year I did a live show in Dubai where I saw Arabs jiving in gay abandon to Shakalaka. Thats when I was on a high.
Vasundhara, whose parents are normal professionals, dad is a CEO of a MNC in Bangalore and moms a scientist with the Indian Institute of Science, says, I did the playback for Rakesh Mehras Amitabh Bachchan-Raveena film, Aks, then I am acting in Mira Nairs Monsoon Wedding (shot extensively in Delhi, in the film she plays a sheltered Punjabi girl called Aditi, about to get married). I am also doing Sangeeth Pushpak Srinivasan Raos trilingual Little John, Citizen (in Tamil) with Ajith, an untitled flick with R. Madhavan and a film with Abhishek Bachchan. I am looking forward to a good musical career and some good performances and a film with Shah Rukh Khan. Id like to be like him, juggling two careers successfully and being equally passionate about both.
Is Shah Rukh listening?
Das the way love goes
Actress and Indi-pop singer Vasundhara Das on music, Madonna and Meri Jaan
By Zahid H Javali
Ask actress and Indi-pop singer Vasundhara Das how she would like to be remembered and chances are she will say, With love.
Its a beautiful feeling. Love is what keeps you going and we need all we can get.
Das dream epitaph She conquered with love comes as no surprise either. Besides, its what shes been up to these days. Essaying roles in films and singing her way into peoples hearts with her debut album Meri Jaan and live performances courtesy Stars Channel [V].
If I had to go the 9-5 way, I would have gone ahead with my MBA. Performing. Thats my trip.
But she does admit that a little business sense coupled with her bachelors degree in statistics did help. Surveying the music scene helped tell her, during the making of her maiden album, that Indi-pop had few takers. That folk songs connect better with the musically inclined. Surveying listeners tells you how to sell your voice to people who listen to jazz, blues, bhajans, and Indi-pop.
Das poll showed her that her album needed a little bit of everything: Arabian, R&B ballad, Qawwali, folk, drum and bass. It needed emotion. It needed ideas. And her hit debut album Meri Jaan was the closest she could get.
Das will sing as long as her vocal cords will allow it. But, when you tell her the shelf life of a singer, especially an Indi-pop singer, is rarely long, Das throws Madonna at your face. It depends on how you understand your audience. Madonna has kept her audience guessing all through her career.
I take life as it comes and enjoy every bit of it.
But Das knows that she can afford to be bindaas and take life as it comes because her shrewd little statistical brain has backup options stored away.
I will do my MBA and study Hindustani classical. Maybe even get myself a degree in jazz from some university.
Its easy when your taste and skill in music is not run-of-the-mill. I listen to singer Aziza Mustafa Zadeh of Azerbaijan and South African pianist Abdulla Ibrahim who spent most of his life in exile because of apartheid. My friends say my taste in music is whacked out.
So, what will her next album be? A mix of Spanish and Latino? She decides to do a Madonna and keep us guessing. I dont know. But I will do it on my terms. The thing about me is that I do it for myself.
Das on acting
Acting is much the same as singing, only the form is different. While Das racy Tamil number Shakalaka baby (form the film Mudalvan) got her a fan-following, she also clicked with master music director AR Rehman and film-maker Kamal Hassan who cast her in Hey Ram. While the film did not do too well at the box office, it gave Vasundhara a national audience, as it was dubbed in several languages including Hindi.
But so far, Das has restricted herself to Tamil films. The only time she got an offer from Bollywood was for the Abhishek Bachchan starrer Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya. She rejected the role that eventually went to another Bangalore girl Keerthi Reddy because you were only asked to dress and be present in the film, and I wanted to portray things that showed my strength as a woman.
Acting se singing tak
It doesn't take her long to prove herself, alright. She wowed filmgoers with her acting prowess with her debut film Hey! Ram. And now the extremely attractive Vasundhara Das is making her presence felt with her soulful vocals in the indi-pop arena with her debut Hindi album Meri Jaan (Magnasound). Way to go, gal
Vasundhara Das, the pretty actress of Hey! Ram fame now displays her musical expertise in her debut album Meri Jaan (Magnasound). The songs in her album show her versatility as a singer as she slips from the sufi influenced title track, Meri jaan, to the soft ballad Ghar mera.. to the pacy Aao yaar with ease. The Bangalore-based Tamilian attributes this skill to her rich training in music. Says the 23-year old singer-actress, "My love for singing comes from my grandmother who though not a professional singer, was a great music lover. And seeing my penchant for this art she started training me when I was barely 10!"
Also encouraged by parents who recognized her talent Vasundhara continued training with various gurus until she found her mentor in Pt Parameshwar Hegde of the Kherwa Gharana, with whom she continues training even today. "To be a good singer it's essential to have formal training in music. It perfects the voice modulations."
With her passion for music it was not surprising that while studying for her BSc, Vasundhara joined the management of Freedom Jam, an organisation to promote and showcase talent in Bangalore. Working with this group she started performing at their monthly gatherings. "It was at these gatherings that I was exposed, and subsequently influenced by a variety of music styles, from Jazz and Blues to Rock and Heavy Metal. I also started exploring Arabic music and found many similarities between Arabic, Flamenco and Indian music. In fact, my favourite happens to be Aziza Mustafa Zadeh who sings in Arabic."
Eager to spread her wings at this juncture the talented singer went to meet AR Rahman who immediately signed her as a playback singer for a Tamil film. "I will always be grateful to AR Rahman for giving me a break. I have done songs with him. And one, Shakalaka baby got me the Best Playback Singer at the Filmfare Awards in 1999." Vasundhara went on to sing for 17 Tamil and three Telugu films.
With a great voice and good looks to match, Vasundhara caught Kamal Haasan's attention, and landed with a role in his film Hey! Ram. She excelled in her part as Maithili, his wife and won accolades for her fine performance.
Though she went on to sign Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding and a Tamil film Citizen, Vasundhara jumped at the opportunity when Magnasound offered to record her debut album Meri Jaan. "It was like a dream come true. And their concept of having this rich diversity in the album by having composers like Piyush Misra, Pravin Mani and Sukhwinder Singh contributes besides other influences like Funk in Bheegi Dastaan, Arabic in Mera Nishan, Latin in Balare, was fantastic! On the whole the making of the album has been a very emotional process and will take some time for me to get over it."
Her forthcoming projects? "I am doing the playback for two Hindi films Aks and Little John, and recording the songs for my own films Monsoon Wedding and Citizen. As for another album, I would definitely like to work on another but that could take some time."
With her voice, versatility and verve that shouldn't be very long.
Boman & The Art Of Non-Stop Laughter
(the hindustan times)
Boman Irani is a walking-talking container of laughing gas. And he has perfected the very difficult art (difficult for a stand-up comedian, at least) of making adults laugh at vegetarian jokes. But then, Boman is one talented bawaji who can play a sardar in the Onida commercial with the same ease with which he played the Mahatma in Feroze Khans Mahatma vs. Gandhi. Of course, he did come across as a khate pite ghar ka Gandhi, but he compensated for the physical dissonance with some really good acting.
Vasundhara Das : Close-up
(Source : A R Rahman Central,
Vasundhara Das is a great looker. Anybody who's seen her as Mythili in Kamal Hasan's 'Hey Ram' would know. For a debutante, this actress impressed. Clap, clap. She's a star.. so what's new? It's this- she sings. Also.
Music started really early for Vasundhara. "I began learning Hindustani classical music when I was barely six. My grandmother was extremely interested in it, and she encouraged me to take music more seriously than she herself was able to in her life. She was a student of Gandharva Mahavidyalay of Delhi when she was a child, so she began teaching me herself. I learnt with her for a few years. Of course, at that time I was most reluctant and kept running away, missing my classes with her. As the years went by, I went through three teachers and finally settled down with my present teacher, Parameshwar Hegde, who was a disciple of Basavaraj Rajguru. After I got into college, I realized I liked Hindustani music. I also began singing in my college choir -- that helped me broaden my music horizon vastly. Now I love and understand music very well, and still try to take lessons from my guru when I am in town. Interestingly, until I reached high school, I was never interested in even listening to western music. Then, after a holiday in the US, I suddenly heard a lot of it, fell madly in love with Elvis Presley and what have you. I also always enjoyed listening to ghazals and wanted to sing them myself".
Act-sing, sing-act; whatever she's upto, this 22 year old female from Bangalore has come a long way. This is how the story goes- Vasundhara was in Madras one season, working on a particular private album. She met A. R. Rahman though Pravin Mani. Rahman called her for a trial, and said that if it didn't work out the way he wanted, she would have to turn back and go home. Vasundhara says she was a little scared herself, because she did not know whether she would be able to handle Tamil lyrics. "But there were so many people to help me out with all that. It turned out to be a great beginning in playback singing". And Filmfare judged her the best playback singer for 2000 for crooning 'Shakalaka Baby' for Rahman in Mudalvan.
The light eyed lass can also sing in Spanish.. we've sampled a trickle in Shakalaka Baby (Two words- Adios Amigo!). She teamed up with Pravin Mani and had two songs in English and one in Spanish on a demo tape. "Then we decided to do an album together. Meanwhile, he also took me to meet Rahman whom he knew well since they used to play together in a band in college. I don't know what Rahman really thought of my voice because I did not hear from him then. But three days later, Mani Ratnam's office called to ask me whether I was interested in acting career! I was simply stunned, because just before that Pravin and I had been joking about this possibility. Pravin asked me whether I wanted to act in films, and I said yes, but only if I was asked by Mani Ratnam! I did a test for him, but I was not at all serious about it. He too, concluded that it was not the right time to sign me up". Good for us, cos she concentrated on her singing then.
Vasundhara's voice was new to Tamil listeners. It must have been the freshness in her voice, and nothing else that put her sultry number for Deva's 'Kushi' on top of the charts. Weeks later, Rahman returned with 'Rhythm', and he brought 'the voice' with it. She did a song called 'Aiyo Pathikichu' for Rhythm. What she had to say- "It is a melodious number, with much more singing involved. I am quite happy with my performance in that song". I couldn't comprehend what she meant by 'much more singing involved'- hence the straight quote! :) She's also gone on record saying she's recorded with ARR for 'Kandukondain Kandukondain' too. However, that song seems to have been deleted- its not in the movie.
Vasundhara Das is a gem of a singer. She's just got her album with Pravin Mani released.. Mere Sanam (The video's on all major music channels this week). Wish her the best of luck with that one.
She has won the Filmfare award for Shakalaka Baby, a superhit song from Mudhalvan, a Tamil film, and thats not the end of the story. A lover of Spanish music, influenced by Indian classical music and also the Graceland God, Elvis Presley, her throaty renditions are characterized by an easy lack of inhibition.
Her training began around the age of ten under her grandmother. She later took lessons and still does from the Pandit from Kaharwa Gharana, Parameshwar Hegde. Her journey started from the college and she was a member of an all girl band that did many a gig in their heyday. Then came free concerts and jamming sessions in Bangalore at the Freedom Jam gatherings where artistes would play for free and exchange notes with other artistes and the audience.
Das also was a member of two bands, Jam Tree and River, with the latter into fusion incorporating classical Indian percussion instruments. Having an unconventional voice, background and sources of inspiration, which ranges from the tragic Janis Joplin, the folksy protester Joan Baez, Jon and Zakirs Shakti and Trilok Gurtu, she has an eclectic sense that surfaces in her debut album Meri Jaan, inspite of the constraints of the popular Love themes of Indi Pop.
Having worked with Rahman has also given her the confidence of working with an unconventional voice. At the same time her willingness to experiment with her influences gives an interesting range to Vasundhara Das. Like she says, Everything has to have a bit of me.
BACK TO HER FIRST LOVE
(Source : www.screenindia.com)
REMEMBER the grey-eyed sensation from Kamal Haasans Hey! Ram? Well, VASUNDHARA DAS, as wed reported in these columns a while ago, is quite an accomplished singer, which was in fact, her first love. Having given us a foretaste or two of her histrionic skills in the Kamal Haasan movie, shes now getting ready to put her vocal chords to the test with her first album, Mera Nishaan.
Not that we havent heard her sing before. Shes crooned for Mudhalvan, the Tamil film (the track Shakalaka Baby even fetched her some awards for best playback singer). For a girl who trained in classical music under Pt Parmeshwar Hegde of the Keherwa Gharana, Vasundhara has strangely also sung for an all-girl rock band while she was still in her 12th. When the band split up, she sang for bands such as Freedom Jam and Jam Tree, before she shifted home base to Chennai.
Vasundhara not only played the lead role, but also sang for Mira Nairs Monsoon Wedding, which should hit theatres later this year. And thats not all: shes composed the music for as many as 20 Southie ventures.
For one so young, thats quite a creditable curriculum vitae already, dont you think?
Taking off on a musical trip
(Source : http://www.hindu.com/2001/03/24/)
THIS EVENING, the whole of Indian Airlines ground will take off, pop on and off the stage and attempt to take with it, the crowd, on to destination: cloud nine.
The flight to board: Channel (V).
The pilots: Suneeta Rao, Vasundhara Das, KK, Renoo and Shail, who will set the tempo and skyrocket the frequency of frenzy.
The cabin crew: VJs Ranvir, Purab, Cary and Kim, who will play the hospitable hosts for the evening, the life savers.
Flight steward: DJ Ivan who would control the altitude and attitude of the music.
Here's a closer look at the music-makers for the evening, just to get you into the mood. The artistes, that Channel V0 informs us, are `Wanted Alive'.
Lets start with the senior most among the five.
Claim to fame: She crooned to announce to the world `Paree hoon main, Mujhe na choona'. And her position in desi pop has hence remained untouched.
The German born Arian (her birthday coming up on April 5) came to India when she was hardly three years old. She hit the pop scene in 1989 when she released her album `Suneeta Senorita'. A couple of years later, came `Dhuan', the album that featured `Paree'. Then came her album `Talaash' that featured `Dehka Dehka' and `Kesariya'.
Suneeta's been an energetic live performer, with an experience of hitting the stage for over a decade now.
Bottomline: Certainly, the artiste to watch out for this evening.
Claim to fame: He came up with the original `Yeh Dil Maange More' (Shah Rukh-Rani-Kajol starrer). He's been asking for more ever since his promising debut album `Pal'. We still remember `Yaaron' from that album that became a part of Nagesh Kukunoor's `Rockford' soundtrack.
The jingle specialist-turned pop star has also sung for the movies including `Strawberry Aankhen'-from Rajiv Menon's `Sapnay', `Hello Doctor' from Kathir's `Duniya Dilwaalon Ki' and `Pyar Main Kabhi Kabhi'.
Bottomline: If you like Shaan, you will like KK. Same breed.
Claim to fame: Chennai's own `Shakalaka Baby', who crooned `Kattipudi Kattipudi da' in `Kushi' and also played the part opposite Kamal Hassan in `Hey! Ram'. And most recently, seen in the music videos of her debut album `Meri Jaan'.
She won the Best Playback Singer award at the Filmfare Awards last year. And if her album is any proof, the `Shakalaka Baby' has quite a variety to offer, from Arabian melody to Latin groove to soft ballads to peppy, racy numbers.
Bottomline: It would be worth a watch to catch India's own J.Lo in the making.
Post Script: Vasundhara will soon be seen in `Monsoon Wedding'. Now, wasn't J.Lo's movie, `Wedding Planner'? Quite a co-incidence there.
Claim to fame: The new pop starlet on the block, has just released her album `Yeh Yaarana'.
The promising Miss, will soon have her first video playing on the music channels, `Thirakti Kyon Hawa'.
Bottomline: Might just be the surprise packet.
Claim to fame: Yet another Biddu product, Shail's album `Kahaan Hai Tu' has just signalled his arrival.
With quite a variety ranging from soulful ballads, to techno to rap, Shail is most certainly waiting in the wings.
Bottomline: New artistes most certainly need encouragement. Come on, Chennai, give them what's due to them.
So this evening, tighten your seat-belts, hit the Indian Airlines grounds, and take off on the music trip. Rock fanatics, this certainly is not your trip, go at your own risk. If you must, go pop!