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"There is no dearth of talent in small towns" - Pratibha Baghel
- Anish Mohanty           Let us know what you think about this article

Pratibha Baghel has had a long journey from her hometown Rewa to Mumbai, the city of dreams. After making a huge mark with her vocal prowess on a music reality show, she lent her voice in films like ‘Issaq’, ‘Baba Ramsaa Peer’, ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya’ and ‘Zid’. In this interview, she talks about music, her singing career and acting aspirations.

How did you get in to music?

My family has always been passionate about music. My uncle, a cousin and I pursue it professionally. The rest of them are equally fond of music but they are in different professions. I have learnt music extensively and have completed Sangeet Prabhakar and Sangeet Praveen (degrees in music).

A couple of years ago, you participated in a music reality show y. Did that lead to opportunities?

Participating in a reality show helped me gain recognition among a large set of audience. After the show, I got to do many stage shows, which helped me sustain myself financially. I also got the opportunity to sing for a couple of films.

Was there any singer or musician who inspired you while you were growing up?

Every person idolizes somebody and I am no exception. I have always admired Lata ji, Asha ji and Hariharan ji. One of my uncles wanted me to become a Thumri singer. So, I did not hear a lot of film music in my childhood. I was a big fan of Kishori Amonkar ji. After coming to Mumbai, I started listening to a lot of film songs. Today, I listen to all kinds of music. I admire Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan from the current lot of singers.

Do you prefer stage performances or studio recordings?

I love performing on stage because there is a lot of positivity there. It feels amazing to see the audience cheer for you. I also like recoding in studio as it gives me a lot of satisfaction as I get to improvise and try out different things.

Is there any song, sung by another singer, which you wish you had sung?

Well, it would be unfair to compare myself with another singer. Any singer, who sings a song, sings it to the best of his / her capabilities. I love this called ‘You Are Still The One’ by Shania Twain. I love performing this song in my shows.

You have sung for movies like ‘Issaq’, ‘Baba Ramsaa Peer’ and ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya’ but the songs that you sung in these films were hardly promoted.

You are right. These songs were not promoted. As a singer, my job is to sing the songs and leave it to the producers to promote them. Promoting the songs, unfortunately, is not in my hands. I guess once you become a big name in the industry, the audience would automatically get interested in the work that you do. So, even if your songs are promoted well, the audience will reach out to them. It’s just a matter of time. I recently recorded a song for ‘Zid’ but that song is not there in the album. You can hear it while watching the film, though.

You grew up in Rewa, a small town in Madhya Pradesh. Living in a small town limits an artist to a certain extent. You don’t really get a lot of exposure or the scope to showcase your talent. Did that bother you?

There is no dearth of talent in small towns. Yes, there is hardly scope for artists to grow or express themselves. These days, a lot of people, from small towns, come to Mumbai to fulfill their dreams. I have been living in Mumbai for quite some time now and today, I own a house, a car and have brought my family here. If you have talent and are willing to work hard, nothing is impossible.

These days, music composers try out a lot of voices for a particular before finalizing one. One voice is retained while the rest of the singers who dub for the same song, don’t find their name on the credits. What do you think about this trend?

It happens to almost every singer these days. Arijit Singh is one of the finest singers we have today. But, he has been in the industry for nine years now. I have known him since his ‘Fame Gurukul’ days. He was as good as he is today. It took a while for the industry to recognize his talent but now that he has given so many hits, he is summoned to sing almost every song. I don’t think he has to go through this practice today. Once you establish yourself, these things will stop happening to you.

Your voice has a very interesting texture – one that one finds in a folk singer. Do you have a favourite genre of music?

I think a singer should be able to sing all types of songs. I have always enjoyed singing Thumri, Folk numbers but now I enjoy singing western songs as well. I sing all kinds of songs in my shows and have sung songs belonging to different genres in films.

You participated in ‘Zee Cinestars Ki Khoj’, a reality show that had aspiring actors competing with each other for a contract that would lead to acting opportunities. Do you want to explore yourself as an actor too?

Yes, I do want to try my hand at acting. However, participating in the show was not a very pleasant experience. I left the show at my own will but they showed me being eliminated.

Why did you leave the show?

They wanted me to sign a contract that would have lasted for three years. I was ready for a acting contract but they wanted me sing exclusively for the shows organized by them. I did not want to sing the contract as a singer as I had already worked with them for three years after I participated in the music reality show.

Would you like to talk about your future projects?

I have recorded a couple of songs but I am not sure whether all of them will have my voice featured on them. Unless the song comes out, you don’t know whether the composer has retained your voice or got some other singer for the final version. I have put acting on the backburner for now. I want to concentrate on singing for one year and then, probably, look for acting opportunities.

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