Shanmukhapriya forayed into singing when she was just four years old. Both her parents have good ear for music and recognised their daughter’s talent early on when she sang notations to an alarm clock tune. Now, having participated and won reality shows as a kid, Shanmukha finally stepped into the adult club with Indian Idol 12 where she is impressing fans, judges and special guests alike with her electrifying performances. Composer Anu Malik has also promised Shanmukha her Bollywood break and it will help her realise the lifelong dream of becoming a playback singer.
Born and brought up in Vizag, when asked about her decision to enter Indian Idol, Shanmukha says, “It has always been a dream to participate in this show. I have grown up watching it. Even my parents wanted to see me on this platform. Other reality shows I have done prior to this were all in the age group of 15 and below. This is my first show in the senior category."
Shanmukha describes how a contestant preps prior to the shoot. “Song selection depends on the theme of the episode. Sometimes guests are invited so that also plays a role. Once the tracks are finalised, we have a week to prepare. I listen to the song line by line and write it down on paper with notations. Then I memorise it. All this takes a day. Then we meticulously plan on how we are going to perform it. We brainstorm on execution, musical arrangement, variations and improvisations from day two. The voice coaches at Idol help us at this stage. We sit with the musicians and decide on how to present the song. Once arrangement is finalised, then we practice. Technical rehearsals are done over two-three days and then we shoot."
The competition is heating up on Idol. Weekly eliminations tend to weigh on the contestants. Speaking on challenges in this journey so far, Shanmukha says “I am trying to offer variations in every episode, even in each song. I have yodeled, improvised a lot and tried scat singing in my various performances. In ‘Dum Maro Dum’ song, I did an operatic variation. The mother’s special episode in which I sang ‘Aisa Kyun Maa’ was also challenging for me as the song is very melodious."
At the same time, Shanmukha is not taking additional pressure after judges recently said that they see her as the first female Idol. “I liked their compliment a lot. Now the expectations are at an all time high. This motivates me a lot. I am working really hard and squeezing in long hours. But I am not taking pressure. I am just trying to enjoy what I am singing."
Praising her fellow Idol contestants, Shanmukha says, “Everyone has their own unique qualities. What one can pull off is difficult for another. The voice tone and quality of each and every one is very fine. Everyone is doing a great job and I see each one of them as my competitor."
Shanmukha also reacts to the current musical trends in Bollywood, saying she prefers originality over remixes. She also opens up on her future in the music industry. “I want to be a playback singer. Besides that, I want to see myself as an independent music artist. I prefer originality in music. As far as remixes go, I believe you can change the arrangement of the song but it shouldn’t feel like ‘oh, what has happened!’ The right feel has to be there."
On dealing with criticism in her line of work, she shares, “Sometimes things are not under our control and a performance does not go as planned. But sitting over it is not right otherwise what is to come may also get ruined. If I have not sung well, I contemplate where things have gone wrong. I move on and try to cover the mistakes from next time onwards."