A few days ago, Nenjukulle…, a single from Mani Ratnam’s Kadal, was premiered on television. And ever since, the voice behind the number, Shakthisree Gopalan’s inbox has been flooded with congratulatory messages. “It still hasn’t sunk in. The response to the song has been overwhelming, and I feel blessed to receive positive feedback from so many people,” she smiles.

So, how did the song happen? “I’ve been singing backing vocals for A R Rahman for the past couple of years and have worked with him in films like Ghajini and Endhiran. A few months ago, I happened to be in his studio for some official work, and Rahman spotted me. Out of the blue, he asked me if I would like to sing for him. I always carry my demo CD with me, and I immediately thrust one in his hands. It contained some of my original compositions as well. He listened to them right away, and within a couple of hours, I found myself recording Nenjukulle…,” she recalls.

Shakthi adds, “Even when I was singing the number, I thought it was just a scratch vocal. Usually, I practise before I go to record even the backing, but on that day, I had not even done the basic warm up. I was quite nervous when Rahman asked me to sing, and was surprised when he retained it!”

Tell her that her rendition have also been criticised for sounding westernised, and she says, “I’ve trained in Carnatic music for over 13 years, and I’ve also learnt western vocal for some months. I’m part of a rock band, and I also sing jazz. I’ve mixed influences, and that’s probably reflecting in the way the song sounds.”

Nenjukulle… is not the first filmi number that this architect-singer has sung. “My last hit was Makalaya… from Naan. I’ve also sung for G V Prakash and a few other musicians.”