RMIM Archive Article "336".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Hema Sardesai - Sapnay come true
# Source: Femina
# Author: Piali banerjee
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
SAPNAY COME TRUE
By Piali Banerjee
Seven years of struggle and some bitterness later, Hema Sardesai, the
'Awara Bhanwara' girl, has finally found recognition
"I'LL be wearing black, as usual. Along with my earrings and chain
representing the Cross, Om and Allah. You won't have any problem
recognising me," says India's newfound nightingale, Hema Sardesai .
Success seems to become her. Amazing what one song can do - especially
to the once shy, understated Hema, who came to Mumbai, seven years
ago, to try her vocal chords in the electronically haloed portals of
the recording studios. Hema was shrugged off as a gross misfit. But
she hung on - cold rejection notwithstanding: "I didn't give up hope,
because of my belief in myself and my love for singing." This affair
with singing started, "ever since my singing teacher in school told my
parents that I had talent, which should be honed."
Hema's academically oriented family took the teacher's advice with a
pinch of salt, expecting music to be nothing more than a passing
fancy. Were they mistaken! Little Hema took to squatting on the
verandah of their idyllic Panjim (Goa) home and filling the quiet
afternoons with her melodious notes. "Initially, complaints poured in
from neighbours who didn't want their siestas disturbed," she recalls,
with a grin. "But gradually, they became fond of my singing and the
Since then, Hema has been a regular first-prize winner at most of the
contests in Goa. Which also meant that she got to brush shoulders with
artistes like Remo Fernandes, who egged her on to her first big
break. At his suggestion, Hema represented India at the International
Pop Song Contest in Germany, which had over 20 countries participating
in it. Hema walked away with both the Grand Prix as well as the
Audience Darling prize.
Armed with the Grand Prix and a degree in Indian classical music from
Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Hema finally managed to persuade her parents
to let her come to Mumbai to fulfil her dreams...
Easier dreamt than done! The darling of the international audiences
and Goa's most popular songstress was completely unaware of the tricks
of the trade. "I didn't even know that I was supposed to make the
rounds of music directors' offices and go around begging for work,"
she says. "I took it for granted that, just like opportunities had
come to me before, people would come to me on their own and offer me
And was she in for a rude shock when they didn't. Hema had to content
herself with singing jingles to earn a living. She sang jingles for
Liril soap, Melody chocolates, Mango Frooti, etc. Obviously, it wasn't
enough. "An artiste needs recognition," she admits. "Especially
someone like me - an out-and-out audience artiste. When I sing on
stage, it's like I'm making love to my audience. I have a passionate
bond with them." And so it was that she bonded some more when she
represented India at the UNICEF concert in Yugoslavia and at Madison
Avenue in New York. Unfortunately, none of that worked in her own
In fact, her first brush with the film industry was nightmarish:
"Every music director who agreed to give me work tried to take
advantage of me as a woman. They told me it wasn't enough to just have
talent, it was necessary for me to have affairs with them! I was so
disillusioned and dejected that I shied away from the film scene for a
long time after that."
She concentrated on Indian classical music and Marathi 'sugam' and
'natya sangeet'. She still faced rejection from music directors and
companies. "Music India, for instance, offered me a poor budget for an
album, saying that I wasn't glamorous enough to merit a better one,"
she reveals. "But I refused to change. I had my own image. I was
original and believed in myself."
Sticking to her guns proved costly, of course. With no work came an
overriding sense of depression, and Hema actually contemplated
suicide! Not that an outsider would have guessed it, because she made
sure her happy-go-lucky exterior was intact. "My studio image was
always jolly," she says. "So many times, I've overheard my colleagues
wondering why I was always so happy, when I had no work! Little did
they know that I faced my bouts of black depression alone."
Meanwhile, Hema wrote and sang the English versions of the songs of
'Maine Pyaar Kiya'. She received a lot of offers to sing on stage in
the United States, where she began spending a major part of her
time. Finally, sure that she wouldn't be able to etch out a career in
Bollywood, she was about to go back for yet another long trip to the
US, when good fortune finally struck.
She got a call from Aadesh Srivastava, who offered her a song in
'Shastra'. "He frankly told me that he would record my song, and only
if he found it good would he actually use it in the film. I
appreciated his honesty and thought it was a fair enough chance."
Aadesh did use her song. And this number resulted in her getting a
number of other film offers. She recorded for films like 'Dastak',
'Aar Ya Paar', 'Tere Mere Sapne' and, of course, 'Sapnay', whose
playful number, 'Awara Bhanwara', catapulted her to stardom
overnight. Suddenly, after seven years of anonymity, Hema found almost
all her songs featuring among the top ten in all the major music
countdown shows in the country.
How does it feel to be on a sudden high? "Great. I only wish it had
happened before so that I wouldn't be as bitter about as many things
as I am today," she sighs.
Today, she has recorded songs for a number of films - Mukul Anand's
'Dus', Subhash Ghai's 'Pardesi', Govind Nihalani's 'Takshak' and
United Seven's 'Miss 420'. Most of the numbers are light-hearted and
frothy. "The problem with the film industry is that you tend to get
slotted easily," she agrees. "A. R. Rahman dared to try me in a
playful number like 'Awara Bhanwara'. I can sing in all moods - I have
sung 'thumris' before. I do wish someone would take a chance and give
me a different number so I can prove my versatility."
Hema has also recently recorded two solo albums - one is in English,
'Call Me Eternity', and the other in Hindi, 'Duniya Ki Jaan Hoon'. "I
will be shooting for the videos of these numbers soon - after I manage
to lose a little more weight, that is," she smiles.
Hema is a happy woman today - what with her marriage to her longtime
friend Xave, who, though he stays in Goa, provides her with all the
moral support she needs. ("So what if we stay in different cities?"
she argues. "The distance only makes our marriage stronger.") And with
recognition dogging her heels.
"My music is god's gift to me and I want to make full use of it," she
says. "My main mission in life is to spread the message of one world,
one love and one religion. That is why I wear symbols of all
religions. If my listeners love my songs, perhaps some day, they will
take my message to heart, too, and there will be some peace in the