Voice of the year

Published Jan 1, 2014, 7:37 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 4:07 am IST
Shilpa Rao, 29, is the new big name in the Indian playback singing scene

She is the dusky lass with the husky voice. Katrina Kaif gyrates seductively to her rendition of this season’s chartbuster, 'Malang' from 'Dhoom 3', while Deepika Padukone confessed that Shilpa Rao’s rendition of Alvida Yaara Alvida from Cocktail inspired her. She shares a strong connect with Deepika, having also sung 'Subhaanallah' in 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' “I’ve met Deepika several times and she graciously told me that my songs helped her emote. I have been her voice for many recent songs. Even Katrina enjoys it when I sing for her,” says Shilpa, who will once again croon for Katrina in 'Bang Bang'.

And Shilpa’s enviable repertoire stands testimony to her talent. She burst onto the national scene with the classical 'Tosey Naina Laage' for the film 'Anwar' in 2006. Then there was no looking back. Ask her, why she is not all over the place like her other counterparts and she says, “I believe that what is meant for me will come my way.”


It is this quiet confidence that distinguishes her from the new age coterie of singers. “I have made two appearances on Indian Idol which I enjoyed much. But my relationship with TV has been through the MTV Unplugged.  It’s a great platform for singers like me to be a part of this special experience,” she adds.

Shilpa was born in Jamshedpur and studied music under father S.V. Rao. But it was playback singer Hariharan who encouraged her to study under his tutor Ghulam Mustafa Khan.

Soon, she performed at a concert with Shankar Mahadevan and was advised to move to Mumbai. She began by belting out jingles and was instantly spotted by music directors like Vishal-Shekhar and Mithoon Sharma. Mithoon then gave her first break with Tose Naina, but it was Vishal-Shekhar’s Saiyaan Re number for Salaam E Ishq that heralded her big bang entry into Bollywood.


Since then, there has been no looking back for this songstress who counts these musicians along with Pritham as her mentors.

“I have learnt a lot from all these people. I have enjoyed each song and continue to do so,” she says.