She shot to fame after winning the Sunsilk Gang of Girls. A power packet, the young and versatile singer-performer Ambili Menon has been setting stages on fire not just within the country but abroad as well. Known for her electrifying connectivity with the audience and scintillating performances, Menon, who was in the city recently, spoke to Dikhya Tiwari on why she likes performing in Odisha, her passion for music and future plans
Odisha is an often-frequented destination for work. I owe all my visits here to the growing economy, the wonderful college community and the brilliant receptivity of people to Bollywood music. Hence I’m here every odd month for a corporate or a college gig. The best thing about Odisha is the warmth and exuberance of the people. I have done shows here with a family crowd just sitting and applauding till late into the night, listening to music and enjoying with a smile on their faces!
Singing as a career
I come from a typical middle-class family where the highest importance was placed on education. In fact, every single member of my family, my 12 cousins included, are all engineers. So it was important that I finish my education. Post graduation was a strict rule! ‘’No music before your Masters’’, said Mumma! Haha! So yes I got into one of India’s premier institutions, finished my education. Education hones a person's perspective, gives a solid head on their shoulders and the courage to face the world. But yes I have wanted to be a singer since I was seven. I saw Britney Spears’ ‘Baby one more time’ when I was 13 and knew right then that music was my only calling in life!
Sunsilk Gang of Girls
Being the winner of Gang of Girls was my first stepping stone in the industry. I was one of those nervous, geeky girls who didn’t know squat about makeup, dressing up and looking pretty. The show taught me how to do that, it gave me exposure in the field of music and entertainment giving me an opportunity to meet people right from directors, producers, singers, musicians. For a girl who knew nothing about singing in a studio, the opportunity to sing in front of industry giants like Leslie Lewis, Mahesh Bhatt etc made me go “woohoo! Oh my god!” all the time! In fact I was voted by all my judges on the show as ‘The Indian Singer capable of winning a Grammy!’ That was a true true high for me!
TV vis-a-vis live shows
Television shows are good for exposure, experience, growing as a person and in stature. But I was born to live and die on stage! I can do anything and everything for music. I can do more shows, entertain my audience and take the concert experience to a whole new level.
Being on stage allows no mistakes. In a recording studio, your voice can be corrected, modulated, given a hundred takes. On stage it’s just the direct rapport you make with an audience, and my attempt at all my shows is always for the audience to feel as involved in my show as possible. My audience is my hero!
Some audiences are more difficult than than the others, especially in the smaller cities. They are shy, a little apprehensive about wanting to dance to music. But that’s what the whole point of my show is. To make them come out of their shells and comfort zone. Music is power!
Best place to perform
I have been lucky my work has taken me to beautiful countries like Spain, Paris, Prague, China, Dubai etc! But some of my favourite gigs have been here, right on home soil! I loved performing at the closing ceremony of the National Youth Festival held right here in Bhubaneswar. The show was one of my favourites. Organised by one of the best agencies in the country, Prelude Live, it was a rage. Imagine a crowd of 60000 screaming youngsters in Kalinga Stadium roaring to Bollywood music! They made my day.
Yes of course. That is always the next step for a reality show singer and one that I’m working towards. The unfortunate thing about India is its lack of a market for independent music as that is something I love doing, composing and writing my own music. I have recorded five songs being pitched for several Bollywood projects across the board written and composed by me. And, I want to urge more youngsters to compose and write their own stuff as that’s when they put their heart into a song. This is an important journey for a singer to go on, so they evolve from being a singer to mellowing as a musician.