RADHA ROY, a wheelchair user, the other singer to perform with AR Rahman at the Awards, greeted me with a shy smile. She was clearly overwhelmed by the fact that she was going to share the stage with Mr. Rahman and was breathless with excitement! As she sang a song from the movie “Kyun Ki” I was captivated by her beautiful voice. No wonder Mr. Rahman had a special word of praise for Radha. Here’s my tête-à-tête with her.
How do you feel about singing with Mr. AR Rahman?
When I heard that Mr. AR Rahman had liked my voice and that I was selected, I was spellbound. It is a thrilling, exciting, dream come true experience for me. Mr. Rahman is one of the top music directors and when he asked me about performing with him in Chennai, I was literally jumping for joy! I had only three days to practice and I have been practising for almost 8 –10 hrs each day. I feel privileged and obliged for getting this opportunity.
How and why did you take up singing as a profession?
I was born and brought up in Kolkata. I finished my BA in Political Science (Honours) at the Loreto House College. I realised my potential for singing when I was selected to perform at a musical concert in school. My voice was appreciated by one and all and I started learning music. I have been training in light classical music from Ustad Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan, son of Padmashree Ustad Fayyaz Ahmed Khan of the Kirana Gharana. When I went to Mumbai for treatment (I have Insulin Resistance syndrome that resulted in Secondary Muscular Degeneration), I happened to meet Salman Khan through a friend. That was the turning point in my career. Salman Khan introduced me to music director Himesh Reshmmiya and “Kyon Ki” happened. I got an opportunity to sing the title track for this Hindi movie along with Udit Narayan.
Do you see this opportunity as a big step forward in your singing career?
To be a good playback singer is my desire and ambition and I am hoping that this association with Mr. Rahman will be a significant milestone in shaping my career. Tell us about your family. My parents have been my pillars of strength and my mother is the guiding light in my life. She insisted that I complete my education and she was also the one who didn’t bat an eyelid when we had to take the decision to move to Mumbai from Kolkata for pursuing my career in singing. Loreto House College, where I did my graduation, is one of the most prestigious and disabled-friendly colleges in Kolkata. My college understood my disability and provided me with a lot of help. Teachers would come home to help me catch up with my studies and the principal was also very cooperative. I was also awarded a Certificate of Merit for commendable effort and personal courage by the University of Calcutta. My being a wheelchair user has never been a barrier for me to achieve what I have always dreamt of. With Mr. Rahman playing the grand piano, Radha sang “Tu Hi Re” from the movie “Bombay” and “Jiya Jale” from the movie “Dil Se” during the Awards celebration. She surely won the audience’s heart by singing a few verses in Tamil as well. I quickly caught up with her as she was leaving the stage. Still overwhelmed by the experience, perhaps, but Radha stopped to answer my question…