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SHARON and SOUNDBITES

Yesterday's diva can talk. Wish she'd sing more



Sharon Prabhakar: 'Hey man, I'm on the scene!' -- Photos: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

SHARON PRABHAKAR speaks what she thinks the media likes to hear. Sometimes it can be terribly misleading. Because, you also go out looking, not for sound bites (plenty of which one came across during the 15 minutes one got with her), but stuff, real stuff. But celebrities sometimes are pushed into this if they have the media pasting their portraits up there and calling them up even before they land in town, as it happened in Sharon's case. This was probably why much of what the former pop star said was lost in phrases that were meant to impact, but carried little value.

To be fair, however, Sharon is now scripting a play that will document the highs and lows of a singer's life. It should be ready by January. She is also composing four songs with her band, Starline, for an English film, Wow. In the middle of all this, she is performing with the band at parties as well as corporate and theme shows. The band does four concerts every year in Mumbai. It does retro, contemporary pop, and a load of Hindi songs. Sharon also helps out corporates with her soft skills academy.

Sharon performed at an art and music show organised by the Renaissance Gallerie last week at the Taj West End. She sang four songs in about 25 minutes before it was all over. A good part of that time, she spent exhorting an audience that just would not clap and dance. And when it finally did, there were five minutes of the concert left. "Do you want me to go? Go away?" Sharon asked after she belted out that glorious Evita number, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and her own, "I will Survive... "

"Bangalore is a wonderful city. It is lovely to be here. Don't you want to shake your legs?" she asked the recalcitrant audience again. Not much happened. A couple of young girls then made it to the stage. At that point, Sharon switched to bhangra, which, if done well, can get you high. You wondered why it did not. She rushed into one of those little rooms immediately after the bhangra. If one assumed it was a break, it was surprising to see many leaving. One is used to seeing such performances go late into the night. I had, earlier, asked her why she did not have a single album in the last five years. "The recording and cassette industry are in the doldrums. The industry banked on artistes who did not deliver. There are too many unpaid bills," she said.

But why would the recording industry not do well if neighbouring Bollywood has enough moolah to offer? "Other than a handful of stars, there is nothing yet bigger in India to match the size of the silver screen. Big screen is big screen. Size does matter."But Alisha, Usha Uthup, and Daler Mehndi are doing well in Hindi pop. "Alisha is fading away and Daler is under a cloud. Hey man, I am on the scene."

What about the immensely popular MTV, and its stars? "They are good channels of visibility alright, but not good enough."

This is the lady who did well in the Eighties. She played the role of Evita, in that well-known musical, to critical acclaim. She has also done all the good plays we know— Cabaret, Roshni, Odd Couple, It had to be You, Thithili, Butterflies are Free... She sang the popular "Meri Jaisi Hasina" in Armaan.

So, when you ask her in retrospect whether the kind of shows she is into today is part of her re-invention, she is not entirely convincing. "Everybody has their phases. Even Madonna did. I like unpredictability in life — like a new play, concert, or even chopped hair. Yesterday, I had long hair. Today, I've cut it. I like to continuously surprise myself."


Sharon does not look up to any woman performer today. Whitney Houston is not to be seen and Barbra Streisand lives in a time warp. She wants to find out for herself how she can flower, to try not to be a clone. "I do not want to be a poor version of the shelf space they have occupied."

Did she think she got her due? She does. "By God's grace, I am someone. I may have lost time because I chose to get married and then look after my daughter. I did not spend time pursuing my career. I went with the pace of life. My only regret is I am unable to get an album going owing to woes in the recording industry."

There is not too much you can make of anyone in 15 minutes. But that rush into the little room after the concert was not in place. And when I managed to get a minute with her to ask her what numbers she sang, she only asked me twice, and sternly: "Did you like my performance?"

What can anyone say only after four songs? No star asks such a question.

PRASHANTH G.N.

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