Raags to riches

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First you saw her on BPL Oye. No, wait a minute,

wasn't she on something before that? Govinda, Govinda,

Chunky and the monkey? Ring a bell? Drenched to the

bone in Aakhen? Eeks, that was her? Blink once, and

she's gone. So that was before Channel V? And after

the BPL refrigerators? Which came first? Or did the two go together?

And then there's that music video. You mean it's her own? An album? Duniya?

And Now Making It At Mtv. The Mtv Ek Do Teen Girl!!!!!

This PERKy girl  is now   Going Places On a SCOOTY spreading her Pyar Ka Rang

Considering she's barely in her 20's, you're wondering what the rush is all about.

But then again, Raags has always done things before her time. Take her career,

for instance. First, she did Bollywood and the masala brigade where things

didn't work. Veejaying came next, and things did work. BPL sponsored the

show, so it naturally followed that she sponsored BPL.

Then came Duniya, her debut album, launched by BMG Crescendo,

music videos, live concerts, promotionals....

Considering everything was going for her, why venture into uncharted

territory -- singing? "Well, it all started with my father, who's been

interested in music for and many years now. In fact, 25 years ago,

he won a national award for the music he composed based on the

theme of freedom. But, back then, he had a family to support,

so he opted for a government job as opposed to being a full-time composer.

He kept in touch with his riyaaz, though, and he was dedicated to it in a

completely non-commercial way."

Among the many songs he composed were Oye Shaba, Raafta Raafta and

Chahat, all of which are included in Duniya. And he encouraged Raags, who

loved singing, to work along with him. "I started just for the heck of it but, later,

things got serious." They recorded a demo tape which the music companies

thought was "too serious for my cute image," she recollects. "They wanted me

to stick to the 'tu tu, chu chu' stuff, but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to make

music that has a message. It doesn't have to change your life, but it has to be


Disillusioned with the response from the music companies, they decided to

produce the albums themselves. "But we were lucky. We found a sponsor like

Coke and, later, BMG Crescendo stepped in. So it all went very smoothly."

Duniya, according to her, is a contemporary album with a traditional base and

different elements. "It's an upliftment of pop music. We thought, why ape the

West when we have so much to choose from here? And so, in Duniya, we've

fused simple traditional melodies and lyrics with reggae, to make a pretty

interesting combination."

But is that the kind of stuff that is selling today? "Dad understands

young kids and what they want -- don't get taken in by all that grey hair!

Seriously, his Urdu is pretty tough, but it sounds beautiful.

And as for how the album's doing -- well, we've got repeat orders from

Cochin and Trivandrum, despite the fact that Hindi pop never sells in

the south. We sold 1,25,000 copies, a first in the history of Indian pop.

We increased the cost of the album, though we weren't too

happy doing that. But I console myself with the fact that we're doing

free publicity tours for Coke."

Was it an easy move, from veejaying to singing? And did the fact that

she was already an established face have anything to do with the success

of her album?' "I can't think of anyone in India who's made as many changes

as I have. While I was anchoring Oye, I was pretty much in touch with what

was happening on the music front. So I'd like to think I'm clued on in to the scene.

As for people buying my music because of my VJ status, I don't think curiosity

could drive you that far. And, if being a celebrity had anything to do with it,

then why wasn't Amitabh Bachchan's Aby Baby successful?

"I think that being known does generate a fair amount of interest, but that's

about all. After that, you and your music stand alone."

But is she really standing alone? Considering that her father's composed the

album and her brother Rishab's directed both her music videos, Duniya

(the titletrack)  Oye Shaba and now Pyar Ka Rang? All in the family, is it?

Duniya was well-shot, the clean look suited the song and Rishab

wasn't even paid a penny. Oye Shaba, the other video has a very

different, almost grunge look but, again, that suits the song.

"If I were promoting someone with no talent, I'd understand people

pointing fingers at me. But I'm working with some of the best creative

talent available, so why talk?"

Raags sees music as her future, because she believes that Hindi pop is really

'going places'. Recalling something she had read, she says, "The article talked

about how the West is exhausted today, and about how the next superstar

phenomenon was going to be from Asia. I'd agree to that, because we have so

much going for us -- there's the Colonial Cousins, Alisha Chinai -- I respect their

music so much."

Reflecting a moment, she adds, "It's difficult to be different, because people

tend to criticise you more. But I think that if you stick to your beliefs, you

definitely can conquer the world."