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Music Review -This Is Me: Sunali Rathod

Priya Kumar

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)

 This is Me: Sunali Rathod          

     Sunali Rathod, ghazal singer and wife of Roopkumar Rathod, has finally made her debut as a pop singer with her solo album “This is Me”. Unlike her husband Roopkumar, who has sang in films like Veer-Zaara, Border and Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Sunali had not sung beyond ghazals and bhajans, until recently. But this melodious singer loves all genres of music, from thumri to Mozart. Also bear in mind that Sunali Rathod is no stranger to popular music. Four years ago, the Rathods, with their seven-year-old daughter Surshree, launched their first Indi-pop album” Mohabbat Ho Gayee” on Valentine’s Day. After the positive response from music lovers in India and beyond, there has no looking back for Sunali Rathod.

    Music is her world, and her craving for riyaaz is phenomenal. In fact, Sunali has proved that with daily riyaaz, a singer can excel in any music genre. She attributes her relatively easy transition from a ghazal singer to a mainstream pop diva to her riyaaz, which she does several times a day without fail. As a ghazal icon, some of her famous albums include “Aaghaz”, “Bazm-E-Meer”, “Khushboo” and “Ishara.” But Sunali wanted to lend her voice to popular music as well. As lounges have replaced traditional mehfil settings on the shamiana, and sarees have given way to ponchos, Sunali Rathod decided it was time for her long awaited makeover.

     Donning designer dresses instead of sarees and shoulder-length chestnut brown hairstyle to match, the melodious Sunali Rathod has made a splash on the music scene with “This is Me.” When asked the reason for her different album, Sunali explained that she did not wish to be branded as only a ghazal singer. Instead, she wanted to experiment with different genres of music. “It’s time trained singers pepped themselves up and pushed themselves to be recognized and noticed," said the singer, who has learned from music maestros like Pandit Hridyanath Mageshkar, Ustad Fayyaz Khan and Purshottam Uphadhyay, in an interview for The Hindu.” During her trip to London, Sunali found her musical love in jazz and hip hop. She loved the jazz melody so much that she decided to come out with a fusion album, comprising of Hindi, hip hop and jazz music together.

     Roopkumar Rathod, Leslie Lewis, of the Colonial Cousins fame, and table master Zakir Hussain made Sunali’s dream a reality with “This is Me.” According to her husband Roopkumar Rathod, Sonali is the type of woman who likes to come out of her shell and show herself to the world.” Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain launched Rathod’s album in Mumbai, while Leslie Lewis composed the music. “This is Me” blends the elements of jazz (namely the piano and saxophone music evident in the entire soundtrack) and hip hop with soulful Hindi lyrics. Who would have ever thought the singer famous for her ghazals “Idhar Se Abr ” or “Gham Raha” by poet Meer Taqi Meer would be singing “Ooh Ooh Aah Aah”  and “Yeh Jiya Jale Mera” in music videos shot by Kiran Deohans? Incidentally, these two are the hippest and most happening numbers of “This is Me”.

      I would also recommend viewers to listen to “Uff Yeh Udaasi Chodiye.” It has an uplifting message about life. Don’t be sad, try to find happiness is what Sunali conveys to listeners in this number. In her remarkably controlled voice, Sunali is able to sing to a catchy and fast tune. The jazz piano and saxophone complement her singing nicely. Kudos to her impeccable pronunciation of English lyrics in “Ooh Ooh Aah Aah” and “Chhota Sa Hi.” Most of her songs have a mixture of Hindi and English lyrics, while the music is predominantly influenced by jazz piano and a hip hop beat. It’s something different, innovative and worth listening to once.

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