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Friday, October 5, 2012

I’m the only non-playback singer who’s survived: Usha Uthup

With her vigor and style, singer Usha Uthup proves every stereotype wrong. It's precisely what the singer did during her recent trip to Ahmedabad as she began her conversation, "With me looking like the way I do and the kind of voice I have, no one thought I would reach anywhere." Today Usha is a name synonymous to a distinct persona and a style of singing that only she can carry. A live wire on stage and an absolute fun to talk to in person, Usha was at her humorous best when TOI caught up with her. Today she not only has a National Award to her name, but popular film awards too, which might have come to her a little too late but she seems unfazed about it. Says the singer, "I never saw awards as the prime motive of singing. I always wanted to connect with the audience and have fun. Music has never been business for me, neither has it been a prime career option, I only wanted to enjoy myself." She adds, "That doesn't mean awards don't matter. They mean a lot to everyone and even to me. I was thrilled when I got the Filmfare Award last year. All of us are looking for recognition and when it comes your way, it feels amazing. But there is nothing more important than your audience's love." For someone who has been in the industry for more than three decades, Usha has sung only a handful of songs and has still managed to garner this kind of love from listeners. She shares, "I am the only non-playback singer who has managed to survive in the entertainment business for so long. Back then people only knew the hero or heroine's face, but no one knew what the singer looked like. I brought a face to the singers." She adds, "I never understood the fuss about one playback singer not singing other singer's songs. I think this only happens with Bollywood playback singers. No other musicians from other regional music/non film music industry have such huge ego problems. I always sang what I liked. I only believed in singing and being happy. That has kept me alive in the industry." Usha, who has always believed in originality and gives every song her own distinct touch, feels, though the reality shows are a great platform, they are only producing replicas. She says, "I am thrilled about music reality shows. There are so many new singers coming up through them. But somewhere the concept is going wrong. These shows are not promoting originality. We have to instill in the youngsters that playback singing is not the ultimate goal. There is a huge world beyond playback singing. They should explore that." Just as she prepares to leave, she adds, "I have been coming to Gujarat for a very long time now. But today I had one of the most sumptuous meals I've had in life. I have always enjoyed coming here and have received lots of love. Gujaratis are one of the most progressive people in India and this is one amazing place I always look forward to coming."

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