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Crooning glory

Shalini has crossed a memorable milestone in her career... 100 songs in films


IT IS difficult to believe that Shalini Singh is 22. In all probability, many of us still think of her as the little girl who started her singing career at age three, wowing audiences who had flocked to musicals such as `Annie,' `Sound of Music,' `Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' and `Cats.' Many more probably still think of her as the 13-year-old who cut an eponymous album, `Shalini.'

In all likelihood, very few among us see her as a young woman who celebrated her 22nd birthday on May 16 this year. And there are equally few who know that a little while before her birthday she had crossed another milestone — 100 film songs. She had really whipped through 94 of them, for they came in the last two years.

But, Shalini's mother Georgina Ezra is convinced that this is just the beginning. Her daughter has a lot more to offer film music buffs. Like all mothers, Georgina wraps her daughter in a protective cocoon, but does not hesitate to chide Shalini if she sees signs of lethargy, overconfidence and an inclination to bask in past glory. Shalini says she bounces ideas off her mother. She attributes her success to Georgina. "I look up to her," says Shalini.

And what a success story it has been. It has been a virtual cruise. She has crooned for Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu films. But, all in all, she has spoken or sung in 20 languages. Among them are Swahili and Maithila. But Shalini has never had problems picking up new languages.

In fact, she is from a family of polyglots. Her maternal great-grandparents are German and French nationals and her father, a Punjabi.

She has sung for popular commercials — Nutrine, Reynolds, Coffee Bite, Lalitha Jewellery and Ponds Dreamflower.

As if this were not enough, she has hummed many title songs for serials like `Choti Si Asha' and `Premi' and played the lead role in a serial `Oonjal,' directed by K. Balachander, and acted in `Pop-corn,' directed by Nazer.

Apart from all this, she still has time for Western classical music, in which she has been undergoing training for the last 11 years and Hindustani, which she has been exploring for the last six years. She is also learning advanced grades in piano as well as in theory of music, under the Trinity College of Music.

No surprise then that recognition has been shadowing her all her life. "This year has been good," says Shalini, charming you with her still-little-girlish smile.

"In January, I won the best playback singer award from the MGR-Sivaji Academy for my song "Yennai Konjam Maatri" in "Kaakha Kaakha," the following month, I received the `Youth of The Year' award from the G.R. Damodharan College of Science, and later, I received the best singer award from Cinema Kalai Mandram. And only recently did I complete my 100th film song, when I sang for director Shankar's yet-to-be-titled film."

And her mother thinks all this is just the beginning!

PRINCE FREDERICK

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