By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network
She is someone who comes from a family that's deep-rooted into Music. Her father Late Shri Gulshan Kumar has been instrumental in giving many singers their first break and her brother Bhushan Kumar has taken their company T-Series to dizzying heights. In spite of such a high profile lineage, there is a sense of striking innocence and humility when you first meet Tulsi Kumar the latest singing sensation in Bollywood. Known for her foot-tapping numbers in films like Aksar, Chup Chup Ke, Karzzzz, Billu and 8 x 10 Tasveer, Tulsi is all set to prove herself in the music industry. She has also just released her solo album Love Ho Jaaye which is doing exceptionally well. Bollywood Hungama brings you Tulsi Kumar unplugged in this special feature called Musically Yours.
The Early Days
"As it is known, I am from a family that is deep in music. My father Late Gulshan Kumarji has been a veteran in the music industry and my brother Bhushan Kumar is the head of T-Series. When I was very young (6 years)…I didn't know what I wanted to become. I used to always watch T.V. and hum songs. That's when my father Late Gulshan Kumar who had a very keen eye for spotting talent recognized that I had potential. He told my mom, "Tulsi has a sweet voice and she should start training in light classical music". He took me to Suresh Wadkar's academy and I started training at the young age of 7. I was there for two years after which we had to move to Delhi. But right since my childhood I knew that I wanted to grow up and become a playback singer so I was working towards it"
Growing up years
"After we moved to Delhi, my mom played a very important role in making sure that I continue training in singing. In my family, everybody is into the music field but nobody was into professional singing. So she made it a point to find a nice guruji for me so that I continue learning. I did my half-schooling and college from Delhi. I was at Lady Shriram College in Delhi and have done my majors in Economics and Psychology. I wanted to do commerce but I didn't take up that since I decided to focus on my singing and music. Now since the past 5 - 6 years I am training with Pandit Vinod Mishra who is my guruji. I am training in light classical music."
My First Break
"In spite of coming from a music family, I knew early on that I had to prove my worth to get a break. My brother never believed in pushing me or using his influence. He wanted to be sure that I am capable of standing on my own feet. I started singing for devotional albums after which I graduated to singing remix songs which was really popular 3-4 years back. I also did a lot of cover versions of Lataji's evergreen numbers and then finally started singing for films.
My first break was in Aksar- 'Janaab-e-Janiya'. Himesh Reshammiya had come home and had heard me sing. After a couple of months, he called my brother and told him that he wanted me to record the song. I went to the studio and we recorded the track. It was a high pitched track and Himeshji liked my voice and thought that I did a fairly good job. That was my first break and luckily for me the song went on to become a big hit. The producers of the film even decided to shoot a special promotional music video which featured Himeshji and me along with the cast of the film. Both the song and the video were very well-received. Right from my first track people not only recognized my voice and also my face thanks to the music video."
The Songs that followed
"After the good response to the Aksar number, there was a certain rapport with Himeshji. Our songs were doping well, the combo was working and he offered me a chance to sing a few more songs like 'Tere Sang Ishq' (Tom Dick and Harry), 'Shabbe Firaaq'(Chup Chup Ke). Most of these songs were very popular among the younger generation."
The Turning Point
"When I started, most of my tracks were quite similar to each other in the sense that they were fast, peppy and high pitched numbers. Somewhere down the line people started thinking that I can only do these kind of numbers. I wanted to kind of break that myth and was able to do so with the soft number 'Saathiya' from Darling. It was a duet with Adnan Sami and I could finally prove that I can sing slow numbers as well. In the same film I also sang yet another romantic slow number 'Tadap' with Himeshji which went on to become a huge hit. Thanks to these numbers and the songs that followed in films like Karzzzz ('Soniye Je') Billu ('Love Mera Hit Hit') and 8 x 10 Tasveer ('Aaja Mahi') people have realized that I can sing different kinds of numbers."
My Debut Album - Love Ho Jaaye
"I always wanted to come up with my own album but I didn't want to start my career with a private album. After 3 years of successful playback singing, I felt it's the right time to come out with an album which has a different mix of songs. One day I got a call from my brother Bhushan who asked me to go for a meeting with Monty Sharma. I was pleasantly surprised when Monty sir told me that we would be discussing about my solo album. I had always been a huge fan of Monty sir's work especially his compositions in Saawariya so it was a huge honour for me that he was composing the music for my debut album. We started working last year on this album and it got released this year. The first song 'Radheshyam' is a hip-hop dance number; 'Jis Dil Ko Ishq Ho Jaye' is an out and out romantic number and the third song on air is 'Rabba Maula' which was the most challenging song for me to sing because I have never tried a Sufi number before. When Monty sir composed the track initially I was apprehensive about pulling it off but Monty sir had full confidence in my abilities. I have worked very hard on this album. There is also a Punjabi track and a ghazal like soft number 'Tumhe Hum Pyar Na Karte To'. The response so far has been really good and each person is liking a different song from the album."
Shooting the Music videos
"The videos have been directed by Divya Khosla Kumar who also is my bhabhi. We shot two videos in Switzerland. Divya has really worked hard on the videos and if you see the picturization you can make out the rich feel. Even though she is my bhabhi, on the sets we were two professionals working towards a common goal of directing a good music video. I am very happy with the videos."
I love listening to….
"Soft melodious music. When I do go out with friends, I do listen to hip-hop, house etc but I can't listen too that kind of music for long."
What's playing on my iPod?
"I am a big fan of Lataji so most of the songs on my iPod are her evergreen numbers."
"As a child till date I admire Lataji a lot. The best day of my life was when I went to her house and met her to take blessings for the launch of my debut album. She heard a few tracks and really liked them which was a big high for me. She also gave me tips on how I should improve my singing. She is truly the Goddess of singing so I couldn't have asked for more."
I wish I had sung…
"'Teri Ore' from Singh is Kinng…Its one of my favorite songs and I had even sung it in one of the shows. I just can't stop listening to it on my iPod."
Favorite singers among the current lot
"Everyone is really good that's why they are here today. I really like Sonu Nigam ji. I have known him since I was a small child. He used to be very close to my father. I also admire Kavita Krishnamurthy. Among the current lot, Sunidhi Chauhan is extremely talented and even Shreya Ghoshal is in her own league. They all are very different in their own way."
Composers I would like to work with
"I want to really work with A.R. Rahman sir…I am waiting for him to call me."
Actors my voice suits best
"I've sung for Katrina Kaif and I think my voice suits her. I feel my voice would go well with the new lot of actresses like Asin, Deepika, Genelia etc."
My future projects
"There are a lot of songs which I have sung. You will hear me in Ken Ghosh's Yahoo, Pooja Bhatt's Kajraa Re plus a couple of untitled projects. I have also sung a track in Adnan Sami's album which is releasing soon. I am also working with Neeraj Shridhar on his album for a couple of tracks. I have just started… I feel I have a long way to go and am really looking forward for the audience's love and support."