New Start on Ghazal Horizon, Cine Advance

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Vatsala: New Start on Ghazal Horizon, Cine Advance, Krishna, October 14, 1988

Looking at her face-to-face, or listening to her ear-soothing ghazals on the video, one’s immediate reaction is likely to be: “Singer first. Singer afterwards”, for she is as beautiful as her voice is mellifluous, so much so, one is non-plussed which to appreciate first.

Vatsala Mehra has a perfect heart-shaped visage, flawless skin and a classic cover-girl smile. The camera instantly loves her and lingers over her expressive, mobile face. Her frame effortlessly fills the screen. If on video, her large eyes register every passing emotion.

She is in the market, her T-Series Cassettes, NASHEELI PESHKASH making waves and the Super Cassettes people are unable to cope with the demand. Vatsala has been singing ghazals over the years, not only in India but in USA and Canada. She lives in Washington, where she is settled with her husband and daughter. She divides her time between India and USA.

She is still learning and has regular coaching, especially during her six-month stint in Bombay, as she says “Learning never ends. Delving into music is like trying to cross the ocean. The more I take to singing, the more I forget myself and my surroundings, my very existence even.

“Whatever success I have so far achieved is mainly due to expert training, hard work, devotion and of course lots of luck.” She cut her first LP disc ‘Guftgu’, for Music India, followed by ‘Shamakhana’ and ‘Khazana’ and then came Nigaahen’. These established her as a popular ghazal singer very much in demand, as she has performed on the stage both in India and abroad.

The Garwares are bring out a video cassette of Vatsala, which is bound to make an impact on the viewers and listeners as this would be the first time fans will be seeing her on screen.

Endowed with a beautiful and chameleonic voice, she is very much at home at Base and Gayaki. Her mobile visage is an additional as set to her singing, which brings alive the rhythm, the meaning and the mohabbat in the lyrics. Her style is inimitable as she copies none, though she admires many popular singers.

Her success so far, though not stupendous, has not gone to her pretty head. She makes it a point to devote time to her family, in their home in Washington. “I am not taking up singing as a career as such, because my family will suffer, which I cannot bear. I love my home, husband and daughter and they are as much a part of my life as my music.”

Vatsala also paints elegantly, some of her creations are spread all over her home in Washington and in her Bombay flat too. She has not held an exhibition of her work so far, though she is not short of offers.

“I don’t want to sell or part with my paintings. They are mine, like my own children. How can I part with them? They are my creations. Maybe latter I may think about it, since I find there is so much encouragement for me to do that.”

Hold your breath, Vatsala is a Khansama too. She cooks delicious dishes as easily and effortlessly as she plays havoc with the mike when singing.

What kind of cook is she? “Non-veg, mostly Moghlai. But I am a connoisseur, I like all kinds of food. I am not a glutton but a gourmet, in the sense I eat just what my system needs. No gulping or gobbling. You see, I like and enjoy the good things of life, music, painting, cooking, literature and home decoration too.

“I like antiques, besides, and my house in Washington is full of them.”

Vatsala is naturally interested to get into playback singing, but since she is not around all the time, film musicians are chary of approaching her.

Fortunately for her, she is financially secure her husband being well settled in the USA. Besides, she is keenly aware of the playback scene in Bombay, the string pulling, the maneuvering and the manipulation.

Vatsala has a flair for fashions and dressing up and over the years she has developed a sophisticated Westernised personality, which however she should like to shed. “I have to change myself, to be in tune with ghazals, which need a typical Indian even Muslim look.” Being dress-conscious, she wants to look like a typical ghazal singer.

The Garwares are planning to market her video cassette around Diwali after which I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets offers for acting. “Oh, I am not desperate to become an actress. My forte is singing and I love singing.”

© 2005 Vatsala Mehra, All rights reserved