‘On top of the world’: Singer Kalpana Gandharv on working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for his love for perfection and grandeur when it comes to his kind of cinema. What remains etched in the minds of the audiences is his approach to music. When Heeramandi’s album was released, it was Bhansali’s usual – great music, dance performances that left long-lasting impressions and over-the-top sets.

It is no wonder that when singer Kalpana Gandharv was offered to sing Ek Baar Dekh Lijiye, it was a dream come true moment for her. The song that has lyrics by A.M. Turaz and music by Bhansali has turned out to be a massive hit. “I am feeling on top of the world right now. People from the industry are calling me and offers are pouring in. I have also finalised a few projects while talks are on for others,” says Gandharv.

On the process of working with Bhansali, Gandharv says that the director is particular about his music but gives artists the freedom to improvise. “He had heard my voice somewhere and asked me to meet. When we met in his office, we had a great conversation and singing session. He liked my voice and gave me the song,” she recollects.

Gandharv belongs to a musical family and is the fifth generation into music in her family. She began her training at a very early age. “Music is in our genes. My father is a violinist and mother a homemaker yet she loves singing. My brother and I grew up learning ghazals, classical and semi-classical. My nana was our guru,” she says.

Her maternal grandfather was a musician who worked with the likes of Laxmikant-Pyarelal and R.D. Burman and played in many movies. However, Kalpana believes he never got the spotlight because he did not sing. Her paternal grandfather too was a renowned sarangi player of his time. “My brother and I sing so we are getting noticed.

Gandharv had made her debut with Tanu Weds Manu Returns song Old School Girl in 2015 and then sang for the 2016 film Sarabjit. “My thought process back then was to do everything that was coming my way. Bollywood gives you viewership and a mass audience appreciating your talent. But there’s no alternative to hard work in any field. It is not an easy journey here. You have to be persistent.”

Being a trained singer, versatility is her strength and the singer is open to singing club songs, ghazals, Bollywood songs and sufi. She particularly feels a spiritual connection with sufi music. Kalpana says she while she is busy promoting her song at the moment, she would soon release her albums and looks forward to working with A.R. Rahman, Pritam, Salim Suleiman, Vishal-Shekhar, Ajay Atul, Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Saikia, soon.