Alisha Chinai who turned a year older on March 18 is best remembered by Bollywood buffs for her Sridevi number ‘Kate nahin kat-te’ in Mr India. Alisha who sang the original number is not even listening to the remixes. “I didn’t even know they were doing a re-mix of my most well-known film song until someone pointed it out to me, and I was like, ‘Kate nahin kat-te’? Really? I mean some songs you’d think are just not replaceable. But then I guess the producers who sold the rights for the remix know better.”
Alisha who slammed the charts with her seductive chords in the 1980s and 90s currently lives a life of semi- retirement. Not that she is totally out of the music scene. “I have been there done that and I'm semi-retired and blissfully happy right now. To the new singers my advice would be that you don't need record companies anymore! Start your own YouTube channel, showcase your work and get your shows on your own merit! Priyanka Chopra is India's global icon and Ananya Birla is signed to Universal abroad. That's ironic too, it just re-confirms that the music scene in India is suffering badly. They don't recognise real artistes! I record my songs mostly in English and put them on YouTube since that’s the best place to expose your talents without fear of intrusion. There is no money in the music industry and playback singing is more or less dead.” Alisha feels playback singing has no future. “Artists are uninspired and unmotivated in India as there is no honest collection-bureau for singer’s royalties. Singers and music producers are all wary as there’s so much corruption in the music business. It’s almost like a music mafia here! Singers don't get their dues at all and most of the new singers work for free nowadays! I stopped singing for Bollywood long ago and detached myself! Good artists are just languishing here! There is no money in the industry. Best for recording artists now is to put up a channel on YouTube of their own and showcase their talent. And you can survive on reality shows that's where the moolah is!!”
Alisha laments the lack of real non-film music in India. “There are no credible composer producers for the pop dance genre either. They can only give us cheesy Bollywood sound nothing International so whom do I sing for?! My Made in India became a global hit because of my collaboration with Biddu! No one here understands the Pop genre anymore. Tinka Tinka is the best ballad Vishal-Shekhar have composed, nothing else of theirs even compares. And I had to sing it. Again ironic! Although, his song productions are really wicked. I have to admit to that! ” The enchanting songstress of many a chartbusters in the past is currently single. “I’ve been on my own for many years now, and I’d be pretending if I said I didn’t miss that someone special in my life. It’s been very tough on me to be companion-less. It’s better to accept the karmic truth and be alone, than to keep searching for something that destiny has not willed for you and hurt yourself repeatedly by trying to get it.” Alisha was married to Rajesh Jhaveri in the 1980s. They separated after her career took off. In 2003 she was in a serious relationship with a Canadian musician-entrepreneur Romel Kazzouah. The two of them almost made it to the altar before they unexpectedly broke up. Sighs Alisha, “I am a giver in any relationship. I gave everything I could to make my relationships work. But fate had other plans. I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss love in my life. Of course I do. But after so many years love has become an fantasy in my head rather than a reality on my bed. Reality bites. And I’ve to admit I am better off alone. Love sounds better in a song. I am happy being the queen in my own castle.”
Today with the slump in the music industry and the fight over royalty with a leading recording company Alisha is happy crooning a song once in a while. “The last time she sang for a film it was for composer Rajesh Roshan in Krissh 3”, she said. Looking back the singer is grateful for all she has received. “Some people crib about the thorns in the roses. I am grateful there are some roses in a bouquet of thorns! My life has not been a bed of roses. My failures have inspired me more than my success.”
Which is your favourite Alisha Chinai song?