x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Usha Uthup set to perform in Abu Dhabi

The playback star says her recent film roles don't mean the end of her singing career.

Usha Uthup. Courtesy Country Club
Usha Uthup. Courtesy Country Club

A Bollywood veteran is set to hit the Abu Dhabi stage at the City Golf Club this weekend.

Usha Uthup will perform hits from her 42-year career in an exclusive performance for Country Club members.

The 64-year-old Uthup is fresh from celebrating her musical forebears at the 13th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in Singapore last week.

She teamed up with the New Delhi music duo Leslie Lewis and Hariharan for a tribute concert celebrating Bollywood's centenary, performing songs from its 1950s and 1960s golden era.

While Uthup has classics of her own, including Ek Do Cha Cha Cha and Ramba Ho, she explains covering influential songs such as the swooning Roop Tera Mastana from Aradhana and Kala Bazaar's Khoya Khoya Chand didn't deter her from given them her own spin.

"In a way I have a western psyche like that, I just sing it because a song is a song," she says.

"When I do covers, such as Hello, Dolly! or a jazz standard, it is not because I want to sound like someone else, it is because I love the song. It's not whether I am a good or bad singer, I am an original singer and that is my plus point."

Uthup's career is experiencing a new surge courtesy of her turn in last year's black comedy Saat Khoon Maaf.

Her performance, as a loyal maid to Priyanka Chopra's murderess character, was only Uthup's third major film role (she has recently signed up for a fourth) and was acclaimed both locally and internationally at the film's world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The film's signature song Darling earned Uthup a nomination for best female playback singer at last week's IIFAs; she lost to Shreya Ghoshal's double entry of Ooh La La and Teri Meri from the films The Dirty Picture and Bodyguard respectively.

Uthup relished that critics and audiences were surprised by Saat Khoon Maaf, saying that she can offer as much on screen as behind the microphone.

"Everybody was quite shocked that I could have acted in a movie like that," she says. "I would love to act much more and through everybody's good wishes I would hope to get more amazing roles. I have always loved acting."

Then why wait until 2006 to make her major acting debut in the Malayalam comedy Pothan Vava?

"Well, nobody asked me," she says. "They either thought that I wasn't interested in acting or that I would not be good.

"But I always knew that I would be good because I am an emotional person and very charged."

Uthup says music will remain her first love. Indeed, her calendar is full of performances including concerts and stage shows.

"It's much better than it has ever been before," she says. "There is lots of luck but more than that it is down to really hard work.

"Nothing comes easy but I wouldn't change anything in the world because now I feel very comfortable in my own skin."

It is this wisdom Uthup brings in her current role as judge in the Indian talent show Idea Bharat ki Shaan Singing Star.

"I keep giving the same advice and that's don't get taken in by the silly carrot they hang in front saying you will be a great playback singer.

"In the days of old there was one cake that everyone could eat from. Now there is still that same cake but when there were only three people before now there are 3,000 people that all want a slice," she says.

"I think what made it all happen for me is that I am happy person, I don't get frustrated or get involved in the rat race. Whatever came to me I just treated it as a bonus."

Usha Uthup will perform on Friday at 8pm, at the City Golf Club, 19th and 24th St, Al Mushrif. Open to Country Club members. For more details or to join The Country Club call 800 5582