Her versatility can be gauged from the fact that she has sung a “Touch Me” (‘Race’, 2008) and “Sawaar Loon” (‘Lootera’, 2013) with an equal amount of ease. In this interview, singer Monali Thakur talks about paying tribute to the Lata Mangeshkar sung “Paani Paani Re” from ‘Maachis’ (1996), “Ho Jaa Aawara” from ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’ (2019), her long and eventful journey in the industry, a song of hers she wished had reached out to more number of people, taking her acting career ahead and more.
You must be very young when ‘Paani Paani Re’ came out. What are your earliest memories of listening to the song?
I was a child when this song came out. My sister and I fell in love with the song and learnt it. “Paani Paani Re” was my favourite song from the album. ‘Maachis’ (1996) was a very unconventional album at that time and was unlike anything we had heard so far. It had a very original and fresh sound to it. I was very young and I did not use to check the album but probably, this was the first time I checked the credits on an album.
The original song was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Were you ever apprehensive about the fact that there could be comparisons?
I think it as a blessing that I do not really think very deeply before doing something. Most of my decisions are very spontaneous and organic. I was in the mountains and was having yogurt and just started humming the song. That is when I first thought of doing a version of it. I found out Sony Music had the rights to the song. I reached out to them and then, everything just fell into place.
You have sung the song very well. It comes across as a tribute to the original and not a recreation.
Yes, we just could not have tampered with the song. It is a melody you cannot fool around with it. We were clear about the fact that we will retain the basic essence of the original song.
Your new film song “Ho Jaa Aawara” from ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’ has been received very well. It is a very well-produced song.
We recorded “Ho Jaa Aawara” almost a year and a half back and I am glad to see it finally releasing. Tanishk has created a beautiful melody and I do not think he has come up with a track like this earlier. He is a very talented musician and it would be great to see him create more original tracks in the future.
“Paani Paani Re” was written by Gulzar. He had also written your first film song “Qubool Kar Le” from ‘Jaan-E-Mann’ (2006).
How do you know about “Qubool Kar Le”? (laughs)
It was a good song and the whole ‘Jaan-E-Maan’ album was very good.
Yes, it was a great album. I had a small section in the song. After that, “Touch Me” and “Khwaab Dekhe” from ‘Race’ (2008) happened. I actually wanted to do an independent album when I started out and I had signed a contract with Tips for the same. But, that was the time when cassettes and CDs were dying out and because of that, the Indipop scene died too.
You actually started out as an actress when you were a child. Then, years later you did ‘Laxmi’ (2014).
My father was a singer and an actor in West Bengal. His friends would ask him if I was interested in acting. My first couple of stints were horrible but then, I started enjoying it. I would love to continue acting if I get some good opportunities.
You had done a film with Abbas Tyrewala called ‘Mango’.
Yes, we shot the film in 2013 but unfortunately, it never released.
Is there a song of yours which you wish had reached out to more number of people?
“Khol De Baahein” from ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ (2017). I think it was a song which did not get its due.
The title track of the TV show ‘Naamkaran’ was a very good song too.
Yes, it was Mahesh (Bhatt) ji’s show and all of us know that he has a great sense of music. It was a wonderful composition by Anu Malik.
You had once shut down a troll on social media who commented on your dress.
Yes, that was the only time I shut somebody up on social media (laughs).
Do you think it is important for an artiste to be relevant on social media in today’s times?
Unfortunately, it is. At least, that is what people tell me. Honestly, I am very lame at it. I cannot bind my life to social media. I use my social media accounts very occasionally.
What are you doing next?
I am planning to release a single soon. I have recorded a couple of songs for films but unless they come out, one can’t really talk about them.