But Shekhar's unique voice - full of mellifluous, robust timbre - married to the dreamy, gurgling ballad Yeh Zindagi Bhi ended up among his best work to date.
Enjoying a truck load of well deserved wah-wahs for his work, Shekhar was cool enough to make some time and stop by the Drift to tell us why the song is giving him new found confidence to uncork his voice a little more this year.
AspisDrift.com: Hi Shekhar, great work on Yeh Zindagi on LBC. Is this the first time you’ve sung for someone other than Vishal-Shekhar?
Thank you and yes! I’m glad Shankar Ehsaan Loy thought me good enough to sing their song.
AspisDrift.com: Tell us a little bit about the song. How did you end up getting it? Why do you think you got picked? What was the recording like?
Shekhar: For the last two years now Shankar has been singing for us. I love his voice. I think he is one of the foremost playback singers in the country. He can sing anything – from classical to a western song. Any genre is comfortable for him. And I love his voice.
Every time he used to record with us, he would leave the studio and say “Shekhar I want to record a song with you haan!” And I would say “Sure, any time man!” SEL are all very dear friends to us. We hang out regularly. About 6 months back, I got a call saying I should come over and record a song with them.
I was very happy and nervous at the same time. This was the first time I was going to sing for another composer. As a friend I knew there would be a great level of comfort with Shankar. But there is a different kind of nervousness you feel – (where) you hope you don’t mess it up.
So I went there and Shankar made me feel as if I was in my own studio. Shankar made me feel as I was singing my own song. The whole experience was finished in 45 minutes to an hour and (all along) I felt that I was in a party or something. All of them were there and they were just having a great time. Every line I would sing, these guys would be like “Superb, man!”
There was this crazy amount of energy and comfort level for me. I’m very happy with the way this song has turned out.
AspisDrift.com: You have a fairly unique voice. It’s dumdaar but also very soulful. But you seem to have sung a lot of songs that are soulful/romantic. Ever felt like testing your pipes with a zordaar, high notes song or is that not your style?
Shekhar: The thing is – once the song comes to you, that becomes your style. Its destiny. Maybe I’ve done all these romantic songs and that makes it feel that its my style. At the end of the day I think a singer should be versatile and sing different kind of songs. For example, my partner, my friend Vishal sings rock songs and then romantic songs. I feel very happy for him.
Personally I’m starting to figure out that maybe I can sing a bit. The biggest composers in India have called me to sing a song. People have appreciated my voice. There must be something in my voice. Maybe it’s time to find it and work hard on it.
A lot of people tell me: “Why don’t you sing your own songs”. I would love to sing my own songs! But at the end of the day it should connect with people. There is a song called Aazmale in Taxi 9211 – a lot of people inside and outside the industry called me to tell me that they loved that song. I just took my rough vocals on the track just to get an idea as to how the composition was going. All of a sudden Vishal walked and then (director) Milan Luthria walked in and they told me my voice completely locked with the song. So they asked me to sing it. And I said sure, no problem at all.
So sometimes what happens is that the voice just has to lock with the song.
AspisDrift.com: I think Jogi Mahi (from Bachna Ae Haseeno) is your most challenging work after Aazmale. Do you agree or does some other song stand out as being your most challenging work?
Shekhar: Jogi Mahi was a big, fat, full Punjabi song! It needed that kind of attitude. Romance also. At the same time it needed to be light and soulful. I’m glad (director) Siddharth (Anand) thought I should sing that song and I gave it a go and it worked.
We needed another character in the song so we got Sukhiji to sing with me. He’s always such a great inspiration for singers.
AspisDrift.com: You really like that guy don’t you?
Shekhar: I love Sukhiji! Have you heard that song Dil Haara from Tashan?
AspisDrift.com: Hasn't everyone?
Shekhar: He rocked that song!
AspisDrift.com: Ok, let’s talk about your work last year. You sang two tracks on De Taali (Aaj Mein Boond Hoon with Shreya, Hone Lagi with Anushka) and Jogi Mahi with Himani Kapoor on Bachna Ae Haseeno. How did you end up casting yourself on those tracks?
Shekhar: Those (first) two songs I sang just to fill things up. There were a few lines required so I said let me just go and sing it. I’m definitely building some confidence to sing more. I’m doing another song on Aladdin coming up in May.
My playback singing confidence has increased a bit because of all the love and faith people have shown in me. I’ve gotten messages and calls non stop since Luck By Chance. It feels great. I feel like doing more and better every time I go behind the mike.
AspisDrift.com: I remember mentioning this to you once but your live performance in The Unforgettables concert took me by surprise. I had expected Vishal to be good but you were a revelation. How come V-S don’t do as many live shows as say SEL?
Shekhar: We’ve started like mad in the last one and a half month. We’ve been doing them non stop! We perform for all kinds of events, corporate events. People who have seen us and want to have us perform for them. We are pretty mad on stage.
Unforgettables was just 15-20m or so. But if you see V-S live for about an hour and half, it’ll be like you are on a roller coaster ride.
AspisDrift.com: I should definitely catch a longer V-S show. What is my best bet for catching you live?
Shekhar: Whenever we perform if we are near you or you are near us, I will give you a buzz and you will be my guest.
AspisDrift.com: Ok Shekhar I have an exercise I want to do with you. There is a mad Vishal-Shekhar fan called Mind Rush on the Drift who once did a psychoanalysis of you for us. So I'm going to read out the analysis and you tell me how accurate it is.
First piece of analysis: Shekar eagerly jumps up on stage to dance. He's passionate, exuberant, impulsive man
Shekhar: Absolutely true!
AspisDrift.com: He stands behind the singers or to the side while on stage. He does not need to hog limelight. Also, thoughtful, observant
Shekhar: The singer is the most important person on stage. I wouldn’t want to block the singer. It’s the singer’s space. Its his performance. Its his time. There is a moment for everyone in life. Blocking the singer and saying rubbish doesn’t make any sense. So I always move away and let the singer get his due.
AspisDrift.com: He keeps his hands in his pocket while dancing. The man keeps secrets. No matter how well you get to know him, it’s hard to ferret out all his true feelings. He is an introvert
Shekhar: Kind of true. I don’t know what to do with my hands when dancing!
I’m more introverted than say Vishal. You can never talk about yourself but when people say I’m introverted, then ok I am. I am like that.
I believe in things that people go through – God gives you something you have to respect. Not like a few other people who try and grab the limelight that they are not supposed. Grab the limelight with the work that you do. Not with the shit that you talk on stage. That is always what I’ve believed.
AspisDrift.com: He dances on stage for all 3 contestants. A true lover of music! Ingrained sense of fairness and decency
AspisDrift.com: Bindaas dancing on stage even though dancing skills are modest. Music helps him overcome his inherent shyness. Does not obsess over his image
Shekhar: My dancing skills suck! But when I go on stage I’m an animal. I become a different person.
Just a couple of days back we did a concert on Jan 2 (The Turf Club at the Race Course – one of the beautiful places to play in Mumbai). You’ve seen us jumping on stage. Vishal and I – we burned the stage down. It was best ever concert!
We were on stage for 1 hour and 15 minutes. We sang about 15 – 16 songs, all the club hits of this year and last. We were mad on stage!
So basically when I’m on stage, its about entertaining people!
AspisDrift.com: Which song gets the biggest reactions when you sing these days?
Shekhar: These days its Desi Girl. I kid you not, when we played Desi Girl last time we didn’t get a chance to sing. The audience was singing all the way till the very end. People went insane when we played Maa Da Laadla. Deewangi, Dard-e-disco – only our crowds sing that. This year was great for us!
AspisDrift.com: You seem to be a very level headed person. Haven’t you done or said anything crazy ever?
Shekhar: Every human being makes a mistake – everyone does something mad in life. I believe that when its music – something you really love and respect, you must do the right things at the right time.
I had no idea about this fighting and people crying and fainting and going crazy on the sets of Sa Re Ga Ma…or any reality show. It used to cheese me off completely.
When I participated in Sa Re Ga Ma, I’m talking about 12-13 years back, there used to be singers from Suresh Wadkar’s classes, from Bhimsen Joshi’s gharana. They used to these classy people who used to just come, sing and go! It was never about two judges fighting, it was never about jokes being cracked. It was never about bizarre things happening on stage. I know its entertaining for people. But I just couldn’t react to it. I feel like if I get called as a judge, let me do my job and leave.
AspisDrift.com: Finally, mandatory Drift question: can you fold a fitted bed sheet?
Shekhar: Well, no! I can’t do that. Or the person making me do this needs a lot of patience. That’s a tough one – I’ll leave it to the maids.
AspisDrift.com: Thanks for doing this with us Shekhar. My best to bhabhi and the rest of the family
Shekhar's discography as a vocalist
- Dil Se Mere (Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi) - 1999
- Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai (Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai)- 2001
- Bollywood Calling (Bollywood Calling) - 2001
- Churaya Re (Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein) with Priti and Pinky - 2001
- Chhaha (Supari) with Sunidhi Chauhan - 2003
- Hamesha (Krishna Cottage) - 2004
- Cuckoo Cuckoo (Home Delivery) with Sunidhi Chauhan - 2005
- Aage Peeche (Golmaal - Fun Unlimited) with Sneha Pant - 2006
- Aazmale Aazmale (Taxi No 9211) - 2006
- Kehne Hai Jo (I See You) - 2006
- Sajnaji Vaari Vaari (Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd) with Sunidhi Chauhan - 2007
- Cash (Cash) with Sunidhi Chauhan, Vishal Dadlani - 2007
- Aaj Main Boond Hoon (De Taali) with Shreya Ghoshal - 2008
- Hone Lagi (De Taali) with Anushka Manchanda - 2008
- Jogi Mahi (Bachna Ae Haseeno) with Sukhwinder Singh, Himani Kapoor - 2008
- Yeh Zindagi Bhi (Luck By Chance) with Loy Mendosa - 2009