An interview with Anusha Mani, the voice behind Lehrein

anusha maniShe made her debut with Dhoka in SEL‘s Johnny Gaddaar, and has since then been a regular feature in almost all of SEL’s compositions. In between she also sang for Amit Trivedi‘s Dev D, but that big break kept eluding her. And that happened earlier this month, with Amit Trivedi’s Aisha. And while her Lehrein has been creating lehrein all around, we decided to do an interview of singer Anusha Mani, and here it is!

Could you tell us about your background?
My background in music has been Carnatic classical since its been a family influence… I’ve been singing since childhood but never thought of taking it up professionally.

What were your musical activities prior to entering Bollywood?
Musical activities were college competitions cultural events etc. just like how any other singer would do for fun

Shankar Ehsaan Loy have been your mainstay in Bollywood so far, their scores forming the majority of your repertoire. So how did you get to work for the trio?
Working with SEL has been a dream come true.. i did an album with Amit Trivedi many years ago which i played to Shankar and I got the privilege to sing for him in Johnny Gaddar.. There was no looking back since then…. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for making this happen…

You also happened to sing a song in the pathbreaking soundtrack that was Dev D. Tell us about it.
The song in Dev D was actually a song from my album with Amit we had done years back… Anurag Kashyap heard the song and loved it and wanted it for his film…

How would you compare the experiences of working with SEL and Amit Trivedi, considering they are the two composers you have worked with the most?
There’s no comparison between musicians because everyone has a different style of working… I ve known Amit for a very long time so the comfort level was different… SEL are great fun to work with cause they give you the creative space to play with the song but also give inputs which makes it easier to sing the song…

So how has life changed after Lehrein, one of the best songs of Aisha and presumably your biggest break yet?
Life hasn’t changed after Aisha but yes a lot of people are loving the song and it feels great when your work gets appreciated.. And yes its a great song and Amit Trivedi has yet again proved that he’s different and versatile and has a sound of his own!! Am really glad and feel blessed am getting to work with great musicians in the beginning of my career.. Of course many more great ones to follow too.

You seem to be rather selective in Bollywood. Is it that the concerts have been keeping you busy?
I haven’t been selective at all.. Am actually doing everything that comes my way. I want to work with everyone from the fraternity.. I’ve also been busy doing a lot of ad work.

A lot of singers are going the private album way. Any such plans?
No plans for an album so far.. May be sometime later when original music gets better recognition in india..

What are your upcoming projects?
I believe in going with the flow… Going with the tide.. In terms of projects there is a song from a Farhan Akhtar film called Game with Abhishek Bachchan in it… Its a duet with Shankar Mahadevan. Music by SEL.

Who are your idols? Any music director you long to work for?
I’d like to work with everyone around.. Of course A R Rahman is on top of the list.. I love the work of a lot of people including Vishal Bharadwaj, Vishal Shekhar, M M Kreem, Pritam. I idolize Shankar Mahadevan to a huge extent .. He’s been my inspiration to improve and get better. Sharing the stage with him has been the best gift ?God could’ve given me!!