Rockstar is the biggest milestone of my career ‘Katiya Karoon’ singer Harshdeep Kaur recently released her first spiritual album Ik Onkar,featuring the complete Japji Sahib – the first sacred composition found in the main Sikh Holy Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Currently busy working on the second season of Coke Studio 2, the 25-year-old singing sensation came over to PlanetRadiocity studios to talk about her new album, AR Rahman, Sufi music in Bollywood, career highlights, upcoming projects and more…
Inception and making of Ik Onkar?
The idea came after I sang the mul mantar of the Japji Sahab, which is our Sikh prayer, forRang De Basanti. It became really popular after the film and its music became a success. I started getting request emails from people to sing the whole Japji Sahab—all 40 verses—in the same style.
So I approach the artist who mixed and mastered the music of Rang De Basanti, KJ Singh, who incidentally is my dad’s friend too, and we decided to record it with harmonies. After 6 years, it’s finally launched (laughs)! We’re very lucky that Rahman sir came to launch this album in Delhi. There really couldn’t have been a better launch.
Key learnings from A.R. Rahman?
Apart from being a musical genius, he’s a great human being. He’s so down to earth that you won’t feel “The AR Rahman” is standing next to you. He won’t let you feel how big a genius he is. He’s extremely spiritual too. I remember one incident in particular. We were rehearsing for the world tour in America without him, suddenly he joined us and the entire ambience of the rehearsal room changed. It became so spiritual and the vibes were so good. I think it’s his presence and aura. You’re always in awe of him. It’s always like you’re singing for the first time in front of him.
One Rahman song you wish you had sung?
All of them (laughs)! There are so many songs… I like ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ because it’s similar to my voice texture. There’s one Sufi song that he sang, called ‘Menda Yaar Mila De Saiyyan’, I absolutely love that song. I also like ‘Naadaan Parindey’. I can go on (laughs).
Rising popularity of Sufi music in Bollywood?
I think it’s not just Sufi music that is rising, it’s good music that is rising. If a certain style goes on to become a hit, it ends up becoming a trend of sorts and then people demand more of that. Also, most of the Sufi songs are very soothing and that’s the reason why people like it.
It’s probably not being used in its true sense. It is being molded according to the situation in the film. It can’t be totally spiritual if Salman Khan is singing a song. Then again, ‘Tere Mast Mast Do Nain’ is a typical Bollywood song but at the same time, it’s got beautiful lyrics and is a very soulful composition. So I think it’s the melody of the song or the composition and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan of course that connects with the audience. People relate to it like Sufiyana Bollywood song. So it has some element of Sufi music in it even if it’s not entirely Sufi.
Highlights of your career?
The first highlight was the MTV Video Gaga Contest that I won in 2001. Then it was my first playback song that I did for Aapko Pehle Bhi Kabhi Dekha Hai, which was Anubhav Sinha’s second film. Next highlight was singing ‘Ik Onkar’ for Rahman sir in Rang De Basanti. After that I took part in a reality show called Junoon Kuch Kar Dikhane Ka in 2008. That was the show that got me lot of fame. People started recognizing me by face.
Year 2010 was full of shows; I became a part of Rahman sir’s world tour in America, UK, Dubai, South Africa, and Singapore. Thanks to Rahman sir, I traveled the entire world (laughs). During that phase, when we were performing in London, sir called me to record something for 127 Hours so that was my first Hollywood project (laughs). He called me to sing for Rockstar. I consider that to be the biggest milestone ever! In between, there wasCoke Studio which also came as a big surprise!
Composers you’d like to sing for?
I’m a huge fan of Illayraja sir’s music. Also, I’d love to sing for Vishal Bhardwaj.