Tanvi Shah made India proud as she wrote and lent her voice to the Spanish version of ‘Jai Ho’, and this collaboration with AR Rahman on Danny Boyle’s 2008 blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire helped her bag a Grammy Award for the best song written for Visiual Media and made her the first ever Indian woman to bring the Grammy home. she sings in fifteen Indian and international languages. She puts her talent and fame in a right direction by working for causes and organizations who support them.
Tanvi was in Dubai two weeks ago to sign an MoU with Dubai based StratGurus Group of companies to be the face and voice to their global campaign called ‘Body not Commodity’. This initiative is led by Dr. Tabassum Khan (Chairman of StratGurus) to raise awareness about human trafficking for organ trade. Tanvi gets chatty with Filmfare ME’s Kirti Nerkar.
Let’s start this conversation with your Dubai visit, so enlighten us about the campaign you are here for ‘Body not commodity’?
‘Body not commodity’ is a campaign about human trafficking for organ trade. It is a deep-rooted cause and we all should educate ourselves regarding the same. We all are aware that this particular cause is just not limited to this region, it’s everywhere, spreading like a cancer. We all need to accept the fact that it’s a global situation. I have always been associated with many social campaigns and also, I’m an active member of organizations which deal with such causes. So, when Dr. Khan approached me with this opportunity, I couldn’t say no. I always felt the need that the cause should be given needed attention and this time they are trying to promote it through music. And this made me accept this more as I personally believe that music connects people. Like, we all hear to the song Despasito. Just think, how many of us actually understand the lyrics? But still we feel connected. So, that’s what we are trying to do, connecting people through music and making them aware about the cause.
What about the music video, are you going to shoot the video in Dubai itself?
It is too early to talk about the music video as we are still in the pre-production stage. The music video will be out prior to Christmas and we are going to shoot partly in the UK and Dubai. I always believed Dubai is a happy place and, in my head, I think it’s the next big gamble. You know it’s located centrally and anywhere you go, you have to come to Dubai Because all connections are through Dubai, I don’t want to sound racist but the fact is it’s a country with all the races.
You are the first Indian woman to win a prestigious Grammy Awards. Tell us about the whole journey.
First of all, I always feel that I’m blessed to have Mr. Rehman (A. R. Rehman), the Maestro as my mentor. When I walked into his studio all I knew was I was there to sing a song for him. I never asked him which song, for which film and all. He is someone who always wants to do things differently so he just casually asked me to write the same song we were there to record ‘Jai Ho’ in Spanish. And I did what I was told and Boom! There we were with a song which made not only us but the whole nation proud. I can’t speak Spanish with ease but I know this language enough that I can save my life and all I can say is, that helped. And about winning the Grammy, trust me, we never expected it. Obviously, the news was fabulous. And especially going to the Grammy’s was special. I was under loads of pressure as I was representing the women of my country. Stepping on the stage and receiving an award was not a joke, my heart was in my throat. And the five minutes I was on stage is still blurry for me, like a dream which I would never forget. However, after party of the award show was a complete high for me. I was watching Beyonce and Jazy. Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato were standing next to me, shaking hands with me, knowing me. I can just say it was a dream I would want to carve forever inside me.
As you sing in many languages, do you sing in Arabic as well?
Yes, I have done a couple of covers in Arabic. In fact, I just came up with my Algerian cover – a song called Zeena by Babylon. And last evening I sang one Arabic song here in Dubai and people appreciated my accent. That’s my award. Music doesn’t have language that’s why a Spanish song (Despacito) makes everyone dance and brings smile to all. That’s the beauty of music and I love spreading happiness though my music.