She always knew music was her life. And it is her undying passion for music which has taken this jazz-musician to heights she never thought she could conquer. Mili Nair, a songstress who had crooned for big names like A R Rahman and Amit Trivedi is basking in all her recent success. Mili was recently in Kerala to give her first live performance to a Malayali audience.
“Being an only child, music has always been my constant companion. I don’t know what I would have done without music in my life. Music taught me about life,” she says. Though her family has lot of art enthusiasts, Mili is the first one to take up music as her profession.
On her first experience in performing for a Kerala crowd she says: “It was a great experience, the show was a celebration of art, music and movies. What we put up in Kochi was different. It wasn’t the usual rock band performance or anything but simple jazz. We had a very enthusiastic audience. It was a pleasure performing for them. The audience was happy and that made our day.”
Though a Malayali, Mili spent most of her formative years in Bombay, Pune, Bangalore and so on. Trained in Carnatic music Mili had an early exposure to music genres such as Rock and RnB. And very soon this singer turned her attention to jazz and began loving the genre when she realised the sea of possibilities it offered.
Asked about her choice of jazz music she says: “I am a person who loves to be a part of everything, and jazz allows just that. There is an edge to that kind of music,” she says.
Travelling to many jazz music festivals along with her drummer husband Hamesh, has helped her to improvise and understand novel Jazz styles. “My first performance at an international level was at the Java Jazz Festival 2009 in Jakarta, where I have collaborated with jazz guitarist Vinnie Valentino. It was a real eye-opener, the exposure I got there was just amazing,” she says.
Mili had her first break in playback singing with none other than A R Rahman. She had sung ‘Keda kari’ for Mani Ratnam’s Raavan, filmed on Vikram and Aishwarya Rai.
“I am very lucky that I got my very first break with the music maestro A R Rahman. It was a magical experience. I have worked with him again for Ambikapathy, the Tamil remake of Raanjhana for the number ‘Parakka Seivaai’,” she says.
With a handful of releases this year, she finds 2013 significant. Her first Bollywood release with one of the bollywood’s most sought after music director, Amit Trivedi, is about to hit theatres soon.
‘Meethi Boliyan’ one of her recent hits with Amit Trivedi, has given her the due recognition in the movie business. “It was a privilege working with Amit Trivedi. I was lucky enough to collaborate with him again for the MTV Coke Studio, where I got two more songs composed by him, to perform ,” she says.
Prior to her foray into playback singing, Mili lent her voice to the ad films of some of the big brands such as Maaza, Cadbury Silk, Lakme, Parachute and so on.
Having sung a variety of genres and languages ranging from Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu Mili is yet to get a big break in Mollywood.
“Urumi was my first work in a Malayalam film, but that was a theme song. I would love to do a full-fledged Malayalam song,” she quips.
On her most comfortable zone she says: “I love the thrill of it all. Basically it all boils down to a single thing for me, the happiness that we are able to evoke. Playback singing is entirely different from live performances and ad films. I have enjoyed working in all three mediums and also in different languages. If you are comfortable with the people you work with, it does not matter where you are, be it Mollywood, Bollywood or Tollywood. As far as I am concerned a singer should be versatile.”
About her latest projects, Mili says: “I have a couple of films coming up. Also I am in talks with a few musicians abroad and is writing my own songs.”
An untraditional singer, who has already been lucky enough to work with some of the big names in the industry, Mili says, I want to work with people who can understand me, with the new-generation composers and artists. She loves to do everything and not get stuck to just one particular area.