'We thought Oh Jiya should give a message to the young generation that you are beautiful, you are one-of-a-kind.'
'It doesn't matter what shape, size or colour you are.'
'You should be beautiful from within; that is what makes the difference.'
Five years ago, Shetal Gupta moved from her hometown, Dehradun, to Mumbai to make her dreams a reality.
"If you keep working hard, people will recognise your effort," she tells Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.
For Shetal, that recognition come though the movie Virgin Bhanupriya, starring Urvashi Rautela, which released last year and her recently released single, Oh Jiya, featuring Pihu Sand and Gaurav Sharma.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. My father retired as the DIG from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
While he was working, we would move to a new place every three years.
I was inclined towards singing even as a child. My father used to play the flute and I think I get my love for music from him.
I graduated in vocal music and then got married. My husband lives in Delhi and I continued with my singing through live shows. I was featured in many television channels there as well.
But, however well you do as an independent artiste, you get much more popularity if you can sing for Bollywood films. Which is why I moved to Mumbai.
Since the last five years, I've managed to balance work and family in Mumbai and Delhi respectively.
How supportive has your family been?
Very, very supportive.
My parents, my in-laws, my husband, my child, they all have been so supportive. That is why I am where I am today.
It is not possible do so without the support of the people around you. If I have to keep worrying about home, I wouldn't be able to work as I do.
How many hours of riyaaz do you put in every day?
About one-and-a-half hours, but it varies. Sometimes, when I'm really engrossed, it can go beyond two hours.
What inspired your latest single, Oh Jiya?
I have a 20-year-old daughter and I sometimes get to interact with her friends.
She gives me insights into the dilemmas this generation faces. They want to always look good on social media and they will use filters on their photos and all that stuff.
I feel this is so fake. Why do they want a fake world? But that's how it is in today's time.
I really feel that women should be confident. They should be at peace with themselves.
We thought the storyboard should give a message to the young generation that you are beautiful, you are one-of-a-kind; it doesn't matter what shape, size or colour you are. You should be beautiful from within; that is what makes the difference.
Who is your musical inspiration?
When I first started singing, I used to listen to Kishori Amonkar. I used to listen to Shubha Mudgal and Geeta Dutt. She has really left a big impact on me because of her singing style and her expressions.
What has singing in Bollywood been like for you?
Last year, I got the opportunity to sing a very nice, upbeat, number Kadi Hoon Karke for the film Virgin Bhanupriya. If 2020 had been like any other year, that song would have been a hit in the pubs.
Then there was another single of mine, a multi-artiste song, Jeet Kar Dikhana Hai dedicated to the frontline COVID warriors.
I've had good experiences with everybody.
I feel everyone has their own journey. If you keep working hard, other people will recognise your effort.
The industry has been kind to me and I'm enjoying it :)
Who are the composers and artistes you would like to collaborate with?
A lot of them.
I would really love to work with Salim-Suleiman, Vishal-Shekhar and Clinton Cerejo, to name a few.
The industry is full of musical talent. There are way more opportunities available today than there were in the past.
Any advice for today's 20 year-olds?
Firstly, I would like to tell them that they should identify what they are good at. It could be anything; it could be your passion for reading, writing... It could be whatever you want to do.
And then, really, really give it your best. If you want to be happy in life, do what you love to do.
It's easier to do this today. People are much more aware now. In our times, it was different.
Never, never be afraid of failure. Unless you make mistakes, how will you know what you are good at?