Priya Saraiya is one of the most talented and successful artists to have entered the Bollywood music industry recently. She started singing at the age of six and performed for live audiences before getting into Bollywood. Married to Jigar Saraiya of the composer duo Sachin-Jigar, she is known for songs like Sun Sathiya and Bezubaan Phir Se from the film ABCD 2 and the song Baat Ban Jaaye from A Gentleman. Apart from being a singer, Priya is also a lyricist who has penned songs for films like Bhoomi, Haseena Parkar, and Simran. We had a conversation with Priya Saraiya to get an insight into the Hindi Music Industry and what it takes to be successful in it.
What was your life like before getting into Bollywood?
Actually, my life has always been into music and I started learning at a very young age. And before getting into Bollywood I used to do stage shows with Kalyanji Anandji and I used to learn from them. So I’ve always been connected with music and I could never think of anything else other than music.
Have you always wanted to get into Bollywood?
No, Bollywood is something that just happened. I was happy doing my independent shows and traveling. But for any singer who pursues a career in music has the idea of Bollywood somewhere in the back of their mind and I was lucky that I met Sachin and Jigar and got an opportunity to work on F.A.L.T.U with them.
So how did you meet Sachin and Jigar?
Well, I met Jigar through Facebook, actually. They were looking for a fresh writer for their second film F.A.L.T.U. They wanted me to write some lyrics for the tunes they had created so, Jigar saw my profile and approached me, asking if I would like to work with them and of course I said yes. So, that’s how I met Sachin and Jigar both.
How is it working with your husband?
Haha. It is a pain actually because he still criticizes my work and I criticize his work. And if he doesn’t like some of my work, he is very upfront about it and tells me I can do better and I am the same way with him. We are very blunt with each other that way because we want each other to be very particular about the work that we do.
Can you tell us about your first break and how was the experience?
The experience was really amazing, I met with Sachin and Jigar. They played a couple of songs which they were working on and asked me if I would be able to write something for it. So I asked for a couple of days time to write the lyrics and by the time I reached home from the meeting, I had finished writing one song. So, I immediately messaged Sachin and he asked me to come back to the studio the next day.
So I went to the studio the next day and we recorded the song where I also sang the rough version of it. When the producers heard it, they said they liked my voice and wanted to use it for the film and that song was Gale Laga Le from F.A.L.T.U.
So what inspires you to write your songs?
This is one thing that nobody can teach you. There are no institutes or schools that can teach you to write Bollywood songs and since childhood, I’ve been a fan of Anand Bakshi and Gulzar Sahab. So, whenever I heard a song, I made sure to find out who has written songs and find out the meaning of certain words in them. In fact, I was so interested in the language that I took Urdu classes to get a better understanding of the language. So I think the inspiration to write songs comes from within.
Would you like to be remembered as a singer who writes or a lyricist who also sings?
I would like to be remembered as an artist. I am also planning to learn an instrument in the future and I want to explore more music.
Have you received any acting offers?
I used to receive it but not now.
Why did you refuse those offers?
I'm more interested in my music rather than acting. I would like to dedicate my time to learn more music.
How do you prepare for your songs?
For writing, I like to write on the melody that I get from the music composer. And sometimes we get a group narration from the director and are told about the situation where the song has to fit in. So, I can freely write all my thoughts and for singing, whenever we go to the studio, we hear the tune and as everything is digital these days, we have to go behind the mic and record it within an hour or so.
How important is it to like a tune before writing the lyrics?
Basically, I don’t have the choice of liking the music because I’m not writing for myself. I am writing the song for an audience and everybody has different tastes. I never liked rock songs but when I wrote the song Karma is a Bitch for Shor in the City, I was quite surprised with myself. So I take every song as a challenge.
What is your favorite song that you’ve had to write or sing?
Saibo from Shor In The City And Meher Meher from Happy Ending.
What would have been your other career option if not music?
I wanted to become a psychiatrist.
Which actress do you think your voice would suit the best?
Priyanka Chopra, because she has a husky voice and I think I’ll be able to do justice to her personality.
What advice would you like to give to the aspiring singers and lyricists?
I am too small to give any advice but if I had to, just stay motivated. There are people who are looking for good talent but what happens sometimes if you don’t get the right medium to get to them. Just stay focused and motivated and you’ll get there.
Which was the toughest song that you’ve had to write?
My toughest song was Laadki for Coke Studio. I literally cried after I read what I had written.
Being a female, was it tough for you to get into the music business?
I think there is a misconception that it is a male-dominated industry. There are many female singers and writers out here. But there is definitely a bit of crunch when it comes to being a music composer and I don’t know why more girls are not opting for this profession. But there is definitely no gender bias.
Who is your favourite songwriter and singer?
Like I said, I have always been a fan of Anand Bakshi and in recent times I really admire what Amitabh Bhattacharya and Jaideep Sahni write. When it comes to singers, I’m a huge fan of Sunidhi Chauhan, I think there is no one who compares to her. She is very versatile and can do justice to any song.
Is there any song that you wish you had sung and written?
There is one song that I really, really like that is Iktara from Wake Up Sid. I think the song was beautiful but very short and if I get the chance I would like to remake it in my own style.
Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m writing for John Abraham’s Parmanu and another project which I cannot discuss right now. I’m also working on some regional Gujarati projects and a personal project for myself.
What are the traits required for being a successful lyricist and a singer?
You need to be connected to what is happening around you to draw inspiration for your words. You need to be updated with the present lingo and slang. You should try to find out words that attract the new age listener and also try to increase your vocabulary so that you don’t end up using the same words over and over again.
For being a singer you definitely need to practice a lot and nowadays, It’s not only about singing, you need to be a good performer as well. A singer has to be out there on stage performing and connecting with the audience.
What’s the difference between independent music and Bollywood music?
Every artist wants to join Bollywood but when performing on stage, you get an immediate response and find out first hand if your song is going to be a hit or not. So when I’m sitting at home and a song is launched, I don’t know for a while whether the song is a hit or not. But whenever I go on stage and perform the same song, I know immediately based on their response.
Where do you see yourself 5 years or 10 years down the line?
I see myself doing the same thing because I love my work. I’ll definitely try to write and sing more and basically just work more.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a simple person, be it my words, my songs or my personality. I try to be as simple as possible.
Is there anything that you’d like to change about yourself?
No, No. I am happy with myself but I really want to improve myself and my work. So that my fans who are listening to my songs are satisfied with my work.
Any message for your fans?
Keep loving me and my work and expect a lot more new songs from me.