For her, Mumbai is the desi version of New York. “Mumbai is simply abuzz and alive. It is the city of dreams and hope. Initially, I thought I would stay here only for a few years and go back to London, but I am still here,” smiles singer Harshi Mad, who was born and brought up in the UK, but has now made Mumbai her home.
Why ‘Mad’? “My surname is Madhaparia, which is difficult to remember. I was new to Mumbai, and I was just trying to be cool, so I cut my name short to ‘Harshi Mad’. It made sense as my performance is all about music and dance, and I like the fun, crazy side of life, always living on the edge,” she laughs. Her vocals certainly pack in the punch with over 1,500 shows worldwide in Hindi, English, Punjabi and Gujarati to her credit. Harshi attributes her multilingual acumen to her mother. “She always tried to retain our desi roots even while living in London. She enlisted me and my brothers for all cultural activities from kathak to tabla to Bollywood dance to Gujarati classes. I have grown up on a diet of Bollywood, watching Madhuri Dixit dance on screen, and imitating her. Singing was a passion that germinated while doing all these classes. My brother Paresh also inspired me to sing when he was a finalist in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2015,” she explains.
Staying abroad, Harshi has grown up on a musical diet of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, but she says she was quick to find her strong Indian connect in Asha Bhosle. “She is my biggest inspiration. I simply love the power and masti in her voice,” she says. Harshi reveres Pandit Banwarilal Sharma as her vocal guruji, but considers her parents to be her biggest teachers. “They have allowed me to do what I love the most: sing my heart out,” she says. Her early days in UK as a playback singer have certainly held her in good stead in India as she navigates her way across the rather crowded film music terrain.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald