Sowmya has done vocals for songs in Sandalwood, Tollywood, Kollywood and Bollywood. She's worked with most of the big music composers in the industry. She's sung hits (Nach Baliye, Nachle Ve, Aakhon Mein Raho) you probably hum even today. She's had an amazingly diverse career for someone so young. I thought it would be fun to catch up with her and ask her a few questions about her new song.
Sowmya you sang Dreamum Wakeuppam from Aiyyaa. I'm still reeling from the shock of that song. (I mean this in a really good way!) So how did Amit Trivedi describe the song to you when you first talked?
Sowmya: Amit just told me to go with the flow of the lyrics, and have fun... To go over-the-top and not to under-play. The director, Sachin [Kundalkar], gave me a brief of the song situation and Rani's character in the film. Basically, it's supposed to be a high energy, hilarious, funny song. And I had a blast singing it.
Boy this song has a lot of naughty stuff in it. How on earth did you keep a straight face when singing?
Sowmya: The moment Amitabh dictated the lyrics to me, I was laughing my guts out.. But yes, while singing, I don't laugh too much, cos it affects my voice. So, straight-face it was!
And were any - cough, cough - props or visuals used in the studio to help create the right masti?
Sowmya: Excuse me??? Inappropriate question!
Who did the 1-2-3-4 bit in the song? That was hilarious!
Sowmya: I don't know, actually, now that you mention it. It was already done when I sang the song.
Your parents were both singers. What is your earliest memory of your Father or Mother singing?
Sowmya: Correction, ARE! My Mom's still active in music, conducting light music workshops for people of all ages, and doing shows. My parents used to sing on stage together even before they were married. So, I can't exactly say, but I remember them always singing
You once said your father tried to talk you out of being a professional singer because he was worried for you. What was that conversation like?
Sowmya: My father never made a big deal out of it. But he felt that during my mother's stint as a playback singer, she never got her due. He didn't want me to go through disappointments too. Though today, he is a very proud father.
But young Sowmya prevailed and you became a singer! What was the deciding factor for you when considering all the pros and cons.
Sowmya: For me, I couldn't see any cons - only pros. So it wasn't a difficult choice.
You used to accompany your Mum and Dad to recording studios. Do your parents ever come with you for your recordings and have they ever mentioned how things have changed?
Sowmya: Only when I was a kid did my parents take me for my recordings. After that, never! Not for recordings, nor shows. I treat it like a job. And I'm like, "We don't take our parents to our work-place, do we?" Plus, I definitely don't need a chaperon.
You've sung a lot of songs in many different languages. I have two questions to ask you related to this. First, have you watched all the movies you sang songs in? And two, did you ever watch one of your songs on film and say "Wow, that is not how I expected this to go AT ALL!"
Sowmya: No, I haven't watched them all! And no, I don't think much about the picturization, since that's not in my control. If my song is picturized well, I'm happy. If it isn't, I just shrug it off.
You've also worked with a lot of music directors - I'm going to ask you to give me one word that best describes each of these you've worked with. One word only Ok? And I dare you to use only words from your new song!
Sandeep Chowtha - Sowmya: (Un)Condition(al)-um
AR Rahman - Sowmya: Wonder-um
Shankar Ehsaan Loy - Sowmya: Onnu Rendu Moonu [note: That's 1-2-3 in Tamil]
Vishal Shekhar - Sowmya: Jumping-um (Have you seen them on stage?)
Sajid-Wajid - Sowmya: Same-to-Same-um (Brothers)
Amit Trivedi - Sowmya: Thunder-um! Not bad, eh? I passed your dare.
You've worked in several film industries. You must have dealt with all kinds of situations. What's the best thing about being a film singer and what is the worst?
Sowmya: The best thing is, it gives a lot more popularity than other forms of music. Because films have a wider reach. But the irony is, this is a double-edged sword. Because of the visuals and the actors onscreen, the song overshadows the singer.
That song we talked about earlier has the words "Body Heatanum." Speaking of temperature, you were once voted "Hottest Singer" or something right? And you are such a good looking person! Has anyone ever come up to you and said "Madam aap ko to film mein hona chahiye?" And how did you respond to that?
Sowmya: I'm 5 feet, nothing. And I can't act to save my life! Yes, I've been told that I photograph well, and have been casually asked if I'd be interested in acting. My response always is: No, thanks, I'll leave that for my brother.
Sowmya, right after you finish this interview, what are you going to do?
Take a nap and Dreamum
Drink some coffee and Wakeuppum
Read a book
☑ Sing a song
☑ Call your friend
☑ Roll your eyes at my questions
Sowmya's web site
The making of Dreamum Wakeuppum
And for some context: One of my favorite Tollywood songs