On looking back on her time in Delhi, singer Shibani Kashyap is reminded of when the city was not as urbanised as it is today. She recalls growing up in a spacious house with a garden outside, and the feeling of “living grand while being at home”. Once a South Delhi resident, Kashyap mentions that the greenery and historicity of the city is what makes it different from any other place in the country.
“The historical aspect of Delhi runs hand in hand with its modern culture,” shares the 43-year-old, who moved to Mumbai in 2005. However, the singer’s musical journey—she has sung tracks for several Bollywood films such as Zinda (2006), Sirf (2008), Sunday (2008), etc.,—started during her high school days in the Capital. In this edition of ‘City on My Mind’, she reflects on her growing-up years in Delhi.
Taking the big leap
Kashyap’s career was in the making from when she was really young. As a pupil in class 11, music director Loy Mendonsa (part of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio) had come to train her batch. After a round of auditions, she was selected for a project headed by Mendonsa and his team, who further offered her to join them on similar projects once she completed her schooling. Kashyap complied with this. She recorded jingles for advertisements of many Indian brands including Amul India, and for the Subah Savere TV show. Later, she got her big break in 1996 when she sang the signature tune of AIR FM, an All India Radio channel—Shibani recalls that the launch promo featured her voice.
Recalling fond memories of her undergraduate days at Lady Shri Ram College, Lajpat Nagar, Kashyap mentions that her home would be the adda (meeting point) for her friends. “My house was a walking distance from the college. So after classes, all my friends would come over. We would cook Maggi together and have jam sessions. People would also come and practise for plays,” she says. At one point, she was also a part of Black Slade, a city-based band. “I had once gone out with my family when I saw them and was fascinated by them. We sang one song together, and later we started rehearsing,” Kashyap says.
A ‘Dilliwala’ forever
The plethora of Delhi’s street food is one thing that Kashyap was then (and is still) fond of. “The momos in Chanakyapuri, and the samosas and hot chai we could get from the street vendors… I loved that,” she says, adding that she misses the period before “mall culture” became the status quo. Mentioning how Delhi has a very “chill vibe”, Kashyap says that whenever she visits the city, she makes it a point to go to places such as Dilli Haat and Hauz Khas Village, given these places still have its charm intact. She further tells us how she is perceived as “Dilli ki ladki” every time she performs in the city. “I receive a lot of adulation and love from people here.”
On being asked if living in Mumbai, over time, has—in anyway—distanced her form Delhi, Kashyap disagrees. “I don’t think I will ever be able to distance myself from Delhi. It is my hometown. I have grown up in Delhi, learnt music there, and had my first break there. Delhi will always be an inherent part of my being,” she concludes.
Favourite places to shop from: Dilli Haat, Sarojini Nagar, CP–I, and shops in places I have experiential memories about.
Favourite street food: Gol gappe at GK-1; Papri chaat at Bengali Market; Butter chicken at Pandara Road
Favourite monument: Humayun’s Tomb
Best thing about Delhi: Its cultural richness