Mohini Shri Gaur is a professionally trained singer. Since 1998, she has done a lot of recordings for movies like ‘Icy N Spicy’ (2007), ‘Rivaaz’ (2011), ‘College Campus’ (2011) and the recently released ‘Murder Madhuri’ (2016). Her collaboration has been with Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Hari Haran, Vinod Rathod, Shaan and Sunidhi Chauhan. She has also sung for prime time serials on leading channels like Zee TV, Sony, Star Plus, Sahara One and Star One. Apart from winning several awards like the Lata Mangeshkar Award (1998) and the Sangam Kala Group National Award (2000-2001), she is also a B-High artist of All India Radio. She discusses her journey and her new single “Kam Hain Apne” in this candid interview.
How did your musical journey started?
Actually I am a fortunate one. When I was just 4-5 years old, I came to know that my parents also are very much indulged into good music, good poetry, ghazals, classical and semi-classical music. They used to do ‘mehfils’ but they were not professionals. They used to love music like anything. Music is in my life because of my parents only. I was with them and I was continuously going through the same things which they were doing. I experienced everything that they were doing. I am more into this genre because of my parents. My learning started from my father, with light vocal training. I used to perform in school and everybody used to love me for that. When my father came to know that I am singing, my voice is very good and I have a very good sense of music, he started taking it very seriously and he started sitting with me for the day long sessions apart from my studies. He was completely devoted and wanted to spend most of the time with me. He used to teach me and guide me with the very small things, whatever is related to light music.
Are you achieving your dreams?
Actually, yes I am trying my best. I am not pursuing only ghazals – a genre which I am following because of my love and my upbringing. Since my childhood, whatever my parents taught me, I was surrounded by good poetry and a good atmosphere of music. I am a very versatile singer. I don’t know much about languages in terms of speaking, but I can sing in many languages, any genre and I attempt it very nicely. It could be anything; soft and romantic melodies, peppy or dance numbers. I gave my voice to many projects from regional languages such as Gujrati, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and many more, other than Hindi. I am doing it differently. I am doing something which I love to do – singing, because it has many beautiful colours of poetry, softness, different emotions and its meaningfulness. On the other hand, I am also doing it very commercially. I want to give it a proper place and a proper recognition. It is not always about film music. People also like to listen to soulful music too. I am just trying to put this thing in the mainstream.
You recently sung the title track of ‘Murder Madhuri’, composed by Arshad Ahmed. How was the experience?
My experience was good and lovely. They all liked my performance. Actually, that song came to me at the very last moment, when they were about to release the movie. With due respect, they asked me. There was a challenge. I just sang it as per the requirement of the movie and it was not a problem. The recordist Hanif Tak is a well-known Mixing Master and a good engineer. He was very happy as it was a long song with 4-5 antaras. Arshad Ahmed is also a brilliant guitarist in the industry and a kind person. He was equally happy.
Your single, “Kam Hain Apne”, is releasing on ArtistAloud.com on the 9th August. How did this happen?
I was planning to do something in terms of soulful music. Finally, there was always a wish and a dream where I wanted to do something in the field of ghazals also. I love to sing ghazals. This feel and genre is always very close to my heart, since my childhood. There are some impressions in my mind, which are very much blended. So, I had a dream, which I am doing in parallel. I wanted to do it professionally, where you can reach worldwide and everybody. The whole concept of ghazal is a tribute to my father. I wish that everyone in the world can appreciate good music and soulful ghazals. It is a nice platform for independent music, they are promoting it and it is a very supportive gesture. Special thanks to Soumini Sridhara Paul, Jesse Julka, Jaya Sing from Hungama Digital and ArtistAloud.com for the digital distribution.
What is the biggest strength of “Kam Hain Apne”?
First of all, the voice and the expressions. Everybody has a different voice but people, who are gifted with many things together; for example – a beautiful voice, a beautiful soul, a very sharp sense of music and poetry, then music becomes more beautiful and if you want to do something professionally, you need to have a complete package, which can represent music so well.
Do you listen to Bollywood music?
Yes, I do. I am a very choosy person. I go opposite the flow of the river. I am the person who is always taking up challenges in my life. If something is running in the market and they are doing it, I will do something else, like some ghazals or romantic melodies. I like Bollywood songs, mostly 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and currently there are lots of compositions coming, which are really good and rich in poetry. I am always attracted to this kind of music. When I am sitting comfortably and I want to listen to some good music. When I am doing recording, I can sing anything. I am very fortunate that God has gifted me with this personality and versatility. But when it comes to listening, I will definitely follow the melodious side. I prefer listening to older songs from Madan Mohan, Shankar Jaikishan, Nadeem-Shravan, Anand-Milind and Jatin-Lalit. Anu Malik was also good with some of his stuff, sometimes.
Have you ever been approached by an A-List music director to sing in Bollywood?
Yes of course! I’m in touch with many A-list music directors and planning to do some good songs together in the near future. God is kind to me.
What are your thoughts on the state of Bollywood music?
I am facing so many things in Bollywood. I am a professional and I don’t mind singing anything, when I am into a recording studio. But I mind things when I am on stage and performing or when I am planning to present something. Around 8-10 years back, I hardly find good music, only 10-15% songs were good. Now things are changing. Young blood is coming out. Technically, they are updated and doing something different, using Western arrangements. They have started to put good music and choosing good poetry too. We can talk about Arijit Singh, Amaal Mallik and Armaan Malik. Some more musicians, composers, poets are also trying. I am watching it since two years. Melody is coming back. Nowadays, I am liking 70-75% of music but on the other hand, it is an initiative which they are taking, like our old melodies, in the gone era, which they are bringing back in their own flavour. They are understanding what music is. This is what I like about new composers.
Do you ever feel bored?
(Laughs) Boredom is a word which is not there in my dictionary. I never get bored with anything. When I am sitting alone, I am either singing or writing something. I am somewhere here and roaming around there. I never get bored because I have a big family. When I am not doing music, I am doing something with my family which I like to do. I am an extrovert but on the other hand, I am a person who likes to sit alone. I cannot listen to item songs. When I am listening to something, it should be very dreamy and full of beautiful words, a soulful voice, emotions, colour of romance and sad emotions also attract me.
You were recently honoured for being a singer, by Alma and World Book of Records London, UK, by Rahul Roy. How was this award a celebration of your success?
It was a very good and wonderful experience – the response, the respect and the kind of love. These people are somewhere aware of my whole journey and they are connected to me around 14-15 years ago, but not directly. They knew about what I am doing, have a record of all my awards since I have started and know how I am moving step by step. They called me and they wanted to honour me. They said it is not about today or what you will do tomorrow. It is about whatever I have done till the time. They said they just want to honour me for the contribution to music.
What kind of hobbies do you pursue?
I like cooking sometimes and to write. Whenever I get time, I just want to sit alone and listen to my kind of music. When I am alone, I will do something which I like. I also like spending time with my daughter. I don’t like travelling much. I sleep, eat and sing a lot! I am this kind of nature.
Which female singers in today’s lot, do you admire?
I like Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan, in terms of singing. These two girls, in the contemporary times, they are following what they are actually. They have never tried to become something else. They are brilliant singers and wonderful but in spite of that, one additional quality, is that they never tried to copy someone. They are original. The person who is doing something and have the courage to put their originality in it, I respect those people. It is a very different thing in this world to pursue originality. If you are a singer, the people will ask you to sing in the voice of Lataji or Ashaji. I respect them alot but if I’m gifted with my original voice, why should I copy any other artist. I never liked this and never even followed anybody.
Don’t the uncertainties of this profession bother you?
I am in this industry for 13-14 years, in Mumbai only. When I took singing as a career in 1992, I was 12 years old. I started my professional journey from that time. It has been a long time. I am strong enough and day by day, I am becoming stronger. I am not a person who will give up. Whatever comes in my way, I hardly bother. Obviously, I get disturbed sometimes. I try to find out ways how to face, solve and overcome them. So many things are there which I have already gone through and still, experiencing loads of unfavourable things, which are coming in my way. My field is like one day, you are here and one day, you are not there. One day, everybody knows you and one day, nobody knows you. I know about the reality of this field, but the basic content is singing and my love towards singing and music. Because of that, I am always ready to face each and everything, whatever somebody puts in front of me, I can face it, handle it and move on. That is my inner strength and I am a fortunate person, who has a very supportive family. Everybody is so kind. My strength has always got doubled. I am not afraid of anything.
Do you love romance?
(Laughs) Of course. Romance has its colours, it is a beautiful feeling. Generally I am very expressive but when it comes to romance, I am not that much. I like it if somebody else is doing something special for me but I am not the person who can initiate things.
Are you more inclined towards Ghazals?
There is no comparison. It is in my blood. I have a very versatile voice. I don’t want to have boundaries. If I have to sing a romantic or devotional song, I will sing it, like I have never sung anything in my life. No one will know that I can also sing ghazals. This kind of thing that I have in me and God has been so kind, to give me that kind of power. Whatever I am doing and wherever I am at that time, I can do justice to most of the things that I have to experience. I like to experiment. Every time it is completely different for me. In this manner, I am a very fortunate person. The qualities I have in me is something which you cannot create. If you are gifted, then you can polish it. I always work hard to polish it and I need to recognize that. I just keep on doing things and I never say no. I can sing anything. It is my love. I love to sing. It could be anything.
Do you have any formal training in classical music?
Yes, of course. During my schooling I did light and classical vocal training in the guidance of Gurus Shripad Devkar Ji, Shri Vishwanath Rao Ringe Ji of Gwalior Gharana and light vocal training from my father, Shri Ashok Chocksey from Shivpuri, who rendered special qualities in terms of ghazal and light vocal genre. Nowadays, I am taking training with Shri Chandan Dass Ji and classical vocal training with Shri Paresh Chandra Jana Ji. These are my Gurus from whatever I am doing, the kind of guidance, support and love, they passed on to me. I miss my father too much because I was highly attached, as it could be with any daughter. Every moment, I miss him. Whenver I am singing, I feel him in me.
How much have you musically collaborated with contemporary Ghazal singers?
Everybody who is a contemporary ghazal singer, I am very much connected to them. There is so much to learn from them. I sit for my practices with Shri Chandan Dass Ji for ghazals and sometimes we perform together. Some new concepts are under way in the future. We share a good rapport with each other. Everybody is doing great. And some people are also planning for my solo concerts.