She’s been called the ‘Shakira of India’. Meet singer Rupali Jagga or ‘RJ’ as her fans call her and she’s been making a lot of ripples in the music scene in India. Recently, Rupali teamed up with MM Kreem for Neeraj Pandey’s latest movie ‘Operation Romeo’ and practically everybody has been raving about the music. Read on as Rupali Jagga talks about her music journey, her stint on reality Tv, working with music legend MM Kreem and more.
Rupali, I believe they call you the ‘Shakira of India’ and ‘RJ’, tell us how you got these tags?
Yes, they call me the ‘Shakira of India’. RJ are actually my initials i.e., Rupali Jagga. So, my fans love to call me by these names. The title ‘Shakira of India’ was given to me on the sets of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2016. This was the show that catapulted me to fame and stardom. Manoj Muntashir who is one of the great lyricists of all the time was the one who actually gave me this title after seeing my performance on the show. He was a judge on the show. It got really popular that even years after doing this show, I’m still called ‘Shakira of India’. It’s probably because I like to perform a lot while singing. I consider it as a compliment because I am huge fan of Shakira – she is somebody I look up to.
You are singing for Hindi films now, in your eventful journey where you have sung live too – I’m sure you have been exposed to a potpourri of wonderful music… How much has your musical journey been impacted by the varied experiences you have had?
Yes, I’ve been singing for Hindi films. Frankly speaking, it’s been a great journey. It’s been full of ups and downs like any other artist but I really proud of the work I’ve done till now. I couldn’t be more grateful that my hard work is finally paying off. I’ve worked really hard on my career and I’m very focused on my playback singing career, as much as I am absorbed in my career as an independent artist. I’m thankful to the Almighty, my fans, my family and everybody who has supported me. By God’s grace, I bagged my latest film Operation Romeo. The title of the song is Tere Bin Jina Kya. It’s a duet so I’ve sung this song with Vishal Mishra. Every singer has a dream to work with somebody like MM Kreem who has composed this song. Manoj Muntashir has the written the lyrics for this song who is my all-time favourite lyricist. This song has already been released and the movie is releasing on April 22. I’d request everybody to show your love to this song and the movie and watch it when it hits the theatres.
“The title ‘Shakira of India’ was given to me on the sets of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2016.”
You are working with some very talented musician, could you tell us about that?
Yes, I’ve been working with very talented musicians for some time now. I’ve worked with musicians like Himesh Reshammiya, Salim–Sulaiman, and of course, MM Kreem and Vishal Mishra. So, life has been good till now, I’m really excited that I am getting an opportunity to work with some of the biggest names from the industry. I’ve always dreamt of working with these musicians and I’m finally doing it so it feels surreal some times. I’m really overwhelmed and grateful.
“I’ve worked with MM Kreem sir, and it’s been a dream comes true for me. He is one of the greatest musicians of all time and he’s a legend.”
You moved from a small town to Mumbai, how did you kick-start your career here?
Yes, I moved from a small town to Mumbai. It’s very difficult to break into this industry especially when you come from a small town. You’ve to learn everything and put double the hard work than people who grew up in big cities. It’s not an easy job to become an established singer in the industry or have connections because there are so many talented singers and musicians here. The most important thing is to be your authentic self and stand out. If you stand in the crowd, you will get lost. I’m really proud of myself that I’ve an established career in the industry. I’m really happy for everything that has happened to me till now.
You were also in a reality show Bhajan Samrat, how did you get into it?
Yes, I participated in the reality show Bhajan Samrat. I was very young back then. I started my journey as a singer at a young age and with devotional songs. My parents used to sing bhajans in the mandir. I started my journey from the mandir as well. People gave me so much love there. So my parents thought that I can come become a professional singer so they made me learn Bollywood and classical Indian music. That’s how it started. As for Bhajan Samrat, I did it when I used to sing only bhajans and I eventually ended up winning the show.
You lent your voice in Operation Romeo, how did you get this break?
Yes, I’ve lent my voice to the song ‘Tere Bin Jina Kya’ from Operation Romeo. I got this break because of my talent and hard work. As they say, hard work never really goes to waste. I’ve been working hard on my career for the past few years and that’s how I bagged this opportunity. I’ve never tried to chase playback singing, I’ve been releasing independent music and singles for a long time now. I feel that this song was meant for me because the opportunity came to me itself. I didn’t have to chase it. I got a call from Manoj Muntrashir and MM Kreem’s office that they want to do this song with me so I went ahead recorded it, that’s how it happened.
“The songs that are releasing now were actually made during the pandemic while we were sitting at home. So, I’ve been occupied and busy throughout the pandemic.”
Any memorable anecdote in your musical journey that you would like to share with us?
I’ve so many memorable moments in my life so it’s difficult to pick one as my favourite. However, there is this one moment that I cannot ever forget and that’s my performance with Asha Bhosle ji. I’ve grown up listening to her song and I consider her as one of my idols. I follow her music. I was on the stage of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa where I performed her song with ‘Piya Tu’. After my performance, she came to the stage and performed the song with me. She appreciated my singing and gave me blessings so I definitely cannot forget this moment ever in my musical journey.
What about the digital platform – are you also straddling the OTT along with films?
I’ve sung for films and I’ve released a lot of singles. I recently released my latest single ‘Tere Piche’, it’s a Punjabi song. Before that, I did a single with Himesh Reshammiya titled ‘Piya Rangeela’. I’m doing another song with him. Besides that, I’ve released many singles like ‘Majboor’, ‘Awara Shaam Hai’, ‘Teri Mitti’, ‘Ishq Nibhava’ and many more. However, I still want to work for OTT platforms. I haven’t done anything on OTT platforms till now but I’m definitely going to do something there. So, I can assure you that I will do a song there as well.
You worked with MM Kreem, tell us about this?
Yes, I’ve worked with MM Kreem sir, and it’s been a dream comes true for me. He is one of the greatest musicians of all time and he’s a legend. He has done such amazing work especially in the South industry. So, it’s an honour to be working with him. I must say that I got to learn a lot from him because he is a very experienced music director. He taught me many things while working on this song together. Whatever I’ve learnt from him is going to help me through my musical career. I hope to work with him again in the future as I cherish working with him.
Do you have any bucket list to sing for any particular actors in Bollywood?
To be honest, I don’t have any bucket list for any particular actors that I’d like to sing for. However, I do have a bucket list for composers with whom I would like to work with. I’d love to work with AR Rahman sir, and I’d love to sing for Amit Trivedi as well. I’ve ticked off some of the names from my list such as Himesh Reshammiya, Salim– Sulaiman, and of course MM Kreem.
“I feel 2022 is going to be my year. A few of my songs have already released this year and there are more coming.”
Actors have started singing too, what do you think of this?
Yes, actors have started singing too. I don’t know what to say about this. But Parineeti Chopra is like a sister to me as we had training from the same mentor who is Nidhi Narang from Agra gharana. So there are a few actors who actually sing well like Parineeti Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, and Ayushmann Khurrana. However, I’d like to say that it’s better to leaving singing to professionally trained singers unless their voice suits the song. As they say in Hindi, ‘jiska kaam usi ko saaje.’
Do you think you have got your due in the industry?
I’ve got some of my due in the industry. I won’t say that I have got everything. The journey is still long but I’ve definitely crossed some hurdles as a singer while some are still left. So, it’s a journey and it will keep going because I don’t want to put a full stop anywhere. That said, I’m going to continue my journey as a singer and independent artist for a long time to come.
“I’d like to say that it’s better to leaving singing to professionally trained singers unless their voice suits the song, as they say in Hindi, ‘jiska kaam usi ko saaje.’”
The pandemic caused havoc in everybody’s life, how did you cope with the lockdown and everything else?
Of course, the pandemic has caused havoc in everybody’s life. As they say, make most of the least. I think I’ve made most of the least. I did a lot of work even during the pandemic. I did live shows through Zoom. The songs that are releasing now were actually made during the pandemic while we were sitting at home. So, I’ve been occupied and busy throughout the pandemic.
“I’d like to request everybody once again to listen to my latest song ‘Tere Bin Jina Kya’ and watch the movie ‘Operation Romeo’ in theatres on April 22.”
Which are the projects you are looking forward to now?
I’ve many projects lined up. Unfortunately, I cannot share everything at this point because we are still in the process of making them. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve another song coming with Himesh Reshammiya sir, then I’ve many singles releasing as well. I feel 2022 is going to be my year. A few of my songs have already released this year and there are more coming. Please keep showering me with your love, affection and blessings. I’ve really thankful to all my fans, listeners, family, and well-wishers. I’m only here because of them. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’m really grateful. I’d like to request everybody once again to listen to my latest song ‘Tere Bin Jina Kya’ and watch the movie ‘Operation Romeo’ in theatres on April 22. Please record the song on your phone and the audience’s reaction, tag me on social media, and I will definitely give you a shout-out.