British Indian Connection: Arzutra Garielle
When did you realise you could sing?
I grew up listening to Bollywood music from a young age of 11 and I was always attracted to the melodies but not as much with the lyrics though. I really didn’t plan a career in music initially but then my love-affair with Bollywood music took over. So it’s my love for the melodies and later the lyrics and language made me follow the line of Bollywood. I have spent quite some time learning Hindi and if I am able to sing today it’s all because of my dedication and love for the language and music.
What is the first song you listened to on repeat?
Umm… Raja Ko Rani Se Pyaar Ho Gaya from the Bollywood film Akele Hum Akele Tum when I was a child. I was really obsessed with this song. And I used to sing it in a tape recorder and then play it on loop.
Is your family musically inclined?
I’ve grown up in a very traditional family so studying academic subjects was always the priority. But my father loved Bollywood songs and movies and that is how the initial connection with Bollywood started. Today music gives me a sense of purpose.
Who are the famous musicians you admire in Bollywood?
In Bollywood, I revere Lata Mangeshkar and Shreya Ghoshal. By listening to the songs of Lata Mangeshkar, I have learned the art of Hindi accent precision. And, for the art of singing with style is something that I adore about Shreya Ghoshal.
You can’t speak Hindi, how do you prepare for singing a track?
I have spent a good amount of time to learn Hindi and if I am able to sing today it’s all because of my dedication and love for the language. In fact, I practice the accent and pronunciation on a regular basis until today.
Who are your western musical inspirations?
Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey.
Do you ever get nervous during a performance?
My heart ticks super fast when I have to perform but I made a vow to myself to do whatever it takes to make it as a singer even if it killed me and so when I perform I just take a deep breath and really get myself into the song then let it out. I call it “switching on”. The year 2015 saw my career-defining tracks ‘Woh Pal’ and later 2016 was followed with the upbeat, urban-flavoured ‘Aa Vee Jaa’ and ‘Saathiya’ which did really well. And I just released my new single ‘Kamli’ which has got me a lot of attention more than I expected. So with six singles and four music videos, I am now working on the release of my Debut Album later this year.
What is your practice routine like?
I practice for around 3-4 hours five days out of seven. One hour is taken just in Indian accent and pronunciation. I have three daily must sing songs: ‘Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai’ (Lata Mangeshkar), ‘Kehna Hi Kya’ (Chitra) and ‘Khayalon Mein Bhi’ (Shreya Ghoshal). I fit my practice between working on Skype with my Dubai-based producer and around planning and executing my music videos. The practice is always high up on my agenda as a singer I believe it’s non-negotiable.
Why did you choose to sing in Hindi, for Bollywood?
Just because I’m born and brought up in the west doesn’t mean I don’t belong in the east. Singing in Hindi is not just a dream but a desire to achieve my dreams to sing in a language I cannot speak but I admire so much. I tried English singing but I wasn’t feeling it. I feel connected to Hindi and resonate through the warm beds of vowels just like the Italian Opera that I am learning.
If you could jam with anybody out of history, who would it be and why?
For me, it would be Amr Diab the Arabic singer. I love his voice totally.
Do you play any instruments, and which one?
I play the keyboard and harmonium to some extent but my main instrument is my voice.
What are your fondest musical memories?
Music was only a hobby until I was asked out for a date by an actor (Ravi) and I remember being nervous in the lead up to it. Not sure what to wear, what to say, how to win him over. I wanted to come across as a fun and exciting girl. So suddenly at that moment and the need to show him I am exciting, I made a decision to sign up for singing lessons. Although at that time I did it to start a new hobby, and I never expected to be a singer heading for Bollywood. I always had an interest in exploring my voice but never paid attention to it. Until that day I thought I need to find myself an interesting hobby or I risk being a boring date! But my official journey of music started there. Bizarre but true. (Laugh)
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Nobody knows but I am very inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s personality. I can relate to a lot of Marilyn’s values on manhood especially the way she depicts that a man shouldn’t be dominant in the presence of a lady.