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Harshdeep Kaur: ‘One Has to Push Oneself Beyond Known Boundaries of Comfort’

The popular playback singer turns composer and lyricist on her new single, “Pyaar Mileya”

Rolling Stone India Aug 07, 2020

Harshdeep Kaur's new single "Pyaar Mileya" features her as a singer, composer and lyricist

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While ordinary folks rely on clichéd roses and handwritten letters, trust a musician to honor their love in exceptional ways and also find a way to immortalize it. The story behind Harshdeep Kaur’s new single “Pyaar Mileya” couldn’t be more heartwarming: “I wrote and composed this as a wedding gift to my husband, Mankeet,” says the popular playback singer. “In fact, I sang it on the day of our engagement. So whatever you hear and see comes straight from my heart and soul, as I express my feelings of gratitude to the Almighty for having found my eternal love.”

The romantic ballad released this week with a music video that features nostalgic moments from her wedding. “Pyaar Mileya” also marks Kaur’s debut as a lyricist. Known for her memorable Bollywood hits such as “Dilbaro,” (Raazi, 2018) “Heer” (Jab Tak Hai Jaan, 2012) and “Kabira” (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, 2013), with this new single, Kaur is dabbling in a whole new territory – there is no film, no plot or a brief from a composer – and has had to trust her instinct as a musician. She says, “This isn’t based on a fictitious story picturized on any model or heroine. It actually reflects my own story with me as the central character.”

In this candid interview, Kaur tells us about her recent triumphs, future plans and why artists must reinvent and experiment.

With film music consumption being low for the past couple of months, do you think this is the time for playback artists to reinvent themselves and focus on their independent journey too apart from films?
Yes, this is definitely a great time for singers to create their own music and work on their craft. Film songs are mostly based on a situation and the singer has to stick to the feel of that song. So, in a lot of ways, you end up playing by the rules already defined. But, on the independent music scene, the singer has the freedom to sing whatever he/she wants. The sky is the limit as experiments can be limitless. It’s a great time to add new skill-based nuances, discover versatility, or even re-discover one’s true passion for music.

I also feel that one has to be open to new challenges and push oneself beyond known boundaries of comfort. That’s the only way one can expand one’s horizons as an artist. There’s so much happening out there and there’s so much we can do, it’s just a question of taking that first step and balance out that dual journey most of us take – across both films and independent music. 

“Pyaar Mileya” is new and refreshing, and very different from the styles you have been previously known for. Was it a conscious decision from your end to want to release a fun yet mushy love song?
As an artist, I believe it is very important to be versatile and experiment with different styles and genres. Not only does this give you a chance to surprise your audience, but also surprise and challenge yourself. I have sung in many romantic styles earlier too such as “Zaalima” in Raees, “Uff” in “Bang Bang”, and “Sajde Kiye Hain” in “Khatta Meetha”. But, this is an altogether fresh style and project for me on so many levels. “Pyaar Mileya” isn’t just an experimental pop song with depth, meaning, and relatability. I’ve composed the entire track while also playing with the tone of my voice to bring out the true emotional vibe. This isn’t based on a fictitious story picturized on any model or heroine. It actually reflects my own story with me as the central character. So, that was a unique experience too! While there’s so much experimentation on the table, I also wanted the audience to immediately identify with my voice the moment they hear the track. Almost like a new side to Harshdeep, but still the very same. All these self-managed aspects have nudged me into becoming my biggest critic on this track, as I wanted the final result to be absolutely perfect.

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Yes, “Pyaar Mileya” is mushy as well since I wrote and composed this as a wedding gift to my husband, Mankeet. In fact, I sang it on the day of our engagement. So whatever you hear and see comes straight from my heart and soul, as I express my feelings of gratitude to the Almighty for having found my eternal love. So, the emotions, lyrics, and melody all come from a deeply personal and beautifully pure place. While I wrote this a while back, I realized I needed to share it with my fans, as they’ve been with me every step of the way on my journey.

As an artist creating new material during the lockdown, what are the new things that you discovered about yourself? Any learnings, epiphanies?
The lockdown has definitely taught us all to be self-dependent, as you don’t have people to assist you. Even small things like setting up a tripod, setting up your own light, doing your own hair, makeup and styling – I have been doing everything on my own. So, all those years of observing others who assisted me is coming in handy as we have no choice but to become more atma-nirbhar!

This experience has also taught me respect and humility towards my work and the untiring efforts of the behind-the-scenes heroes that help make us successful. As an artist, it isn’t just about recording a track, showing up on stage, or making a television appearance. There’s so much more to everything that often goes unnoticed. I’m glad I could harness these facets of my personality, appreciate the finer details, and become more self-reliant.

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As somebody who toured and performed a lot on stage, how much has the current scenario changed your opinion about touring now? Do you think artists will be very wary to travel even after the lockdown is lifted?
We are so used to travelling across different cities. So, the lockdown definitely feels surreal as am definitely missing the flight travel. An artist really feels alive when one is on stage performing in front of a live audience. While the artist pours her heart and soul into the crowds and her performance, she feeds off the energy and vibe of the audience. So, that’s another feeling that I’m really missing.

There are many artists who are experimenting with virtual shows and events. There are some artists that are doing limited shows for small audiences. Event and production teams are extra-careful in this COVID-19 environment and so are actual audiences. So, the actual emotion of performing for large live audiences is missing and incomplete.

In my opinion, given the current scenario, we have to make the best use of technology and see how best we can entertain our audiences. So, digital concerts are the way ahead for now. Social media also gives us the chance to connect and engage with our audiences and fans. So, it’s a case of making the best of an unfortunate present and uncertain future. But, I certainly hope things return to normalcy soon.

Are you working on new singles? Tell us more.
Music is something I love doing. It’s my life. I’m constantly working on new music so I’m currently working on fresh tracks too. Also “Pyaar Mileya” was my first attempt at writing lyrics and I want to continue to write my own music. This is a good time to create a bank of work, as the flip side of lockdown is that we have an opportunity to work on our craft.

This ‘being at home’ has definitely given me musical food for thought, encouraged me to look inwards, experiment more with my voice, and learn more about music. The market has now truly opened up with the lines between mainstream and independent music blurring. So, there are great opportunities to collaborate with artists across the board, as there’s an audience for everything today.

So, there! I’ve dropped a few hints! There are a lot more exciting projects in the pipeline that I promise will continue to surprise audiences. For now, I’m thankful for all the love that “Pyaar Mileya” continues to receive!

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