‘Working with Rahman is a mind-blowing experience’
... says singer Poorvi Koutish who collaborated with the Oscar-winning musician for his latest album, 99 Songs which marks Rahman’s debut as writer and producer
Revelling in all the appreciation that’s coming the way of AR Rahman’s latest album, 99 Songs, Poorvi Koutish, the voice of the hit song ‘Jwalamukhi’, proudly shares that this is her best work yet. Apart from mainstream music, the singer also dabbles in indie music, and has been on the road to fame since her stint with Indian Idol 6 in 2012. She hopes to win a Grammy someday and says the experience of being in the presence of, and working with two-time Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer A R Rahman, was mind-blowing. "While Indian Idol did bring me exposure, once it ended, I was left to figure where to go next. I had always been intrigued by opera and Broadway music and that eventually led me into Rahman sir’s KM Music Conservatory. From production, lyrics and the mixing of genres, working with Rahman sir for two years was a revelation."
Recalling when she was called in to sing ‘Jwalamukhi’, Poorvi says, "I was given just the word 'Jwalamukhi' and had to improvise on it during the demo. So, I just sang using gibberish words with no lyrics or composition structure. Now, I have sung it in three languages including Tamil, Telugu and Hindi." The song, which was first released on International Women’s Week, speaks of the emotional turmoil of the female character in the movie and the eruption of her emotions. "The lyrics and artwork in the video are all linked to the storyline," she says adding that another song she has sung for in the album ‘The Voice Without Words’ speaks of love and soul.
Poorvi also remembers her first Tamil song, ‘Veriyera’ in Ajith-starrer Vivegam, with much fondness. "I try to understand every word I’m singing. Anirudh was extremely patient and helped me through it. Now, having worked with several projects in Tamil, which are likely to be released this year, I can tell you that the language has become my friend,” she says.
The singer also feels strongly about the lack of woman representation when it comes to composers. “I know several women singers with the potential, but I don’t think they get enough support and promotion.” The young singer adds that she will be producing and composing for her next play record. “Independent music is a form of self-expression. While I also love doing popular music, indie has no restrictions and provides space to explore. It gives insight to fans about the artist and that to me is special. My EP will include a lot of experimental ideas and have aspects of theatre that I have been meaning to pursue.”
From old Japanese, Turkish, Latin music to Hindi songs from the ’20s and ’40s, Poorvi listens to a mix of genres and says she does not like to restrict her music to any single genre. “I explore different genres and pick aspects that resonate with me,” she says. Poorvi reimagines originals, changes the composition and shares covers every week on her Instagram account.
At a time when the world is fighting a global pandemic and everyone is seeking a little light and entertainment, her recent video on Instagram in which she sang about coronavirus became an instant hit. “Surprisingly, it got more views than my videos on Jwalamukhi,” she notes. “Working in Rahman sir’s studio made me feel confident that I can do much more than singing, including editing and direction,” says the singer, who has also directed the video of a song called ‘Ocean Rained’ for Shashaa Tirupati.
The artist in Poorvi stands out as she shares her motif behind creating music. “Music is a tool with which to explore myself, connect with people and tell the world the struggles in being oneself in a world full of opinions. While creating one’s own space in the industry is difficult, it’s not impossible.” Currently part of AR Rahman’s band and promotions of 99 songs, the singer who is awaiting the release of two of her songs in Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer Dil Bechara, is happy with how things have worked out since Indian Idol. “It has been good.”