Sunny Leone is grooving sensuously to this dance number and Shah Rukh Khan is adorning the screen with his menacing Kohl-eyed look. Laila Main Laila from Raees has taken over music charts and has already garnered 50 million views on YouTube. As for Pawni Pandey, the voice behind the peppy number, she’s being showered with praise from all over. The 24-year-old crooner gets candid as she chats about her musical journey, SRK and more.
Ask her how she bagged the much-talked about song and she says, “I was working with Ram (Sampath) Sir for quite a few months. One fine day, he called and said that he was trying a version of Laila. The same evening, I was called to the studio and recorded the song. At that time, I didn’t know it was for Raees. After two weeks, I found out that it would be used for the film.”
The revelation stumped Pawni and she immediately called Sampath and redubbed the track. Considering she’s being bombarded with compliments, how does she feel? “I’m overwhelmed. I’m more than surprised to see the reactions. It’s very exciting, especially when you have a song in a film as big as Raees. SRK tweeted and said ‘thank you for making the song come alive, you’re the other Laila of the song’. I got appreciation from Sunny and Rahul Dholakia (the director) too,” says Pawni.
For this musically-inclined girl, her tryst with fame happened when she took part in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs in 2006, where she was adjudged the best female singer. “I was too young to have things change for me drastically. Music directors asked me to give myself time to train. This drove me towards learning more and gave me more focus,” she reveals. As someone who started crooning at two, she began to learn music professionally when she was 10. Originally from Jaipur, Pawni says, “We moved to Mumbai when I was 10 so that I could pursue music more seriously and get better opportunities. I went on to sing for movies like Bodyguard, Gulab Gang and Fugly.”
During her growing up years, Pawni admired Lata Mangeshkar, but it was Sunidhi Chauhan who instilled in her the desire to be a live performer. “I looked upto performers like Shakira, Beyonce and Michael Jackson too.” Among the current musicians, she picks Amaal Mallik, Sachin-Jigar and Arijit Singh as her favourites.
Coming back to Laila, the singer is all praise for Sunny Leone. “She has done more than wonders to the song. She has taken my voice to another level!” she says.
Finally, ask her if she’s visited Bengaluru before and she answers, “My cousin used to live here, so I’ve come many times. I also come there for shows.”