“.....Electronic Dance Music, it gives you the energy and the madness you need to party!”
In the words of Sir Michael Caine, “Be like a duck – calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” Actor/Model/DJ Shilpi Sharma clearly personifies the aforementioned. Here, she speaks about life’s biggest lessons and her love for EDM. If you are not a fan, by the end of this article, you will be one. Read on.
You have a string of very high-profile brands that you have modelled for. You also have worked with some of the biggest names in Bollywood. How did you make a transition into being a DJ? Tell us about the details that google doesn’t know yet.
‘Roller’ and ‘Coaster’ are two words that describe my transition into DJing. It all began with a party in Goa, one in which I went up to the DJ console to dance with a friend. That mad energy, I think it pushed a musical gear in me. My best friend texted later that night to say that I looked very hot up in the console, and that I should consider being a DJ very seriously. So I thought, why not? After all, music has always been such a big part of me. And so in 2011, I spun my first track in the DJ console. It made me realize that this is what I should be doing to spread my musical vibe to the world. An overwhelming response motivated me further. Since then, there has been no looking back. Today, I’m happy being India’s first Actor/DJ ever.
From being born into a politics/business-centric family based out of Dholpur, Rajasthan to living your dream as an actor/model/DJ in Mumbai, the entertainment capital of the country… what has your journey been like? Tell us about your highest highs and your lowest lows, and the lessons you have learnt along the way.
Honestly, every small step I take here in Mumbai has the potential of becoming front-page news in my hometown. So I really have to think through my actions before taking them. At the onset, I did struggle just like other newbies who have no guidance or ‘godfathers’. But I never compromised on my work ethics and dignity. I can never do anything that can hurt my family’s reputation. I am fortunate to have bagged a few quality Bollywood movies. Style was my debut, but I had to take a break shortly after the movie was released to finish my education. Jo Bole Sonihal happened thereafter. It was a complete dream-come-true to be cast opposite Sunny Deol in the leading role.
And then, out of the blue, I got a call from Madhur Bhandarkar. YES, the National Award-winning Madhur Bhandarkar. He wanted to feature me in Heroine as Arjun Rampal’s wife. And so I did, and soon I was flooded with offers and critical appreciation. My life felt like a dream. Everything was just so right. But then, all hell broke loose. Without knowing what hit me, I sacrificed it all for love… my career, my life, everything! And like my world wasn’t dark already, I lost my father to a kidney failure around the same time. I found myself at rock bottom… emotionally, professionally, and in every other way imaginable. I couldn’t share my pain with anyone because I didn’t want to be taken further advantage of. So I was home in Dholpur for a year. As a result, I had to let go of several other movie offers during this period. I was torn and broken beyond repair.
Come to think of it, it was my music that helped me survive. It was music that pulled me out of that trauma. So I moved back to Mumbai, took no favors, worked my butt off, and made myself relevant. People who claimed to be friends never cared to help in anyway. That made it all the more important for me to prove my mettle in my own terms. And all I have seen is growth ever since. This just reaffirms my belief that destiny has a plan for everyone. I am more grateful than I can tell you.
What is your all-consuming passion? If you had to choose between acting, modelling, and DJing, what would it be? Why?
Acting is my passion and will always be. Modeling has always been an ongoing ride that keeps the excitement alive. But music for me is something else. I cannot live without it. It’s like the air that I breathe. Having said that, most of the recognition I receive (even for being a DJ) comes from having been an actor. So it’s important for me to recognize where I come from, and stay grateful for what I have.
What about EDM excites you the most? Who are the DJs/artistes you draw inspiration from? What have been the greatest EDM concerts you have attended?
I love the EDM vibe! It gives you the energy and the madness you need to party! The DJs/artistes who I draw inspiration from are Axwell, Above & Beyond, Tiesto, James Zabiela… the list goes on. Some of my best memories are from the Tiesto India Tour and the Amsterdam Dance Festival.
When you create your playlist, how do you draw a balance between tracks that are tried and tested, and those that are new? Do you research about the venue and the kind of crowd expected so as to make custom playlists?
Researching about the venue and the crowd is always the first step for me. Then I sync my music collection with my research results, and prepare three separate playlists: a) Main, b) Backup, and c) Emergency. The multiplicity of the playlists offers the flexibility of switching between them depending on the mood and the energy level of the crowd. I usually maintain a blend of old and new tracks, while squeezing in a few of my own bootlegs and mash-ups to make the experience a unique one.
For an attractive woman who’s working the graveyard shift in nightclubs filled with drunken revellers, are there any special precautions you take to ensure your own safety?
In Mumbai, I travel with my chauffeur and trusted friends. For outstation shows, I travel with a companion. This is always a part of my standard contract. I also have bouncers in and around the DJ console for my personal protection.
What can we find in your iPod?
Retro, Lounge, Bollywood, Spiritual, and everything non-EDM. It helps me relax since EDM is such a big part of my job.
Your last shows at Trilogy, Juhu and Liv, Kala Ghoda have been hugely successful. Tell us more. Also, where can we catch you next?
I have been emotionally overwhelmed by the response. That kind of support and fanfare makes me want to exceed all expectations in future shows. Speaking of which, you can catch me at Trilogy, Juhu – Friday, December 20.
In a country where nothing usually matters more to parents than knowing that their children are growing up to be future doctors and engineers, what is your advise to the young DJs? How, according to you, should they safeguard their future?
DJing is as secure as any other profession. But you must do your homework before getting into this line of work. Don’t become a DJ because you want fame, money, girls (or boys as the case may be). It’s not as easy as it looks. There is a lot of hard work involved which is not commonly known. You should enter this field only if you have a strong musical sense. That is because no matter how fabulous you look or how influential your friends are, your listeners will judge you only by your music.
Article written by 2Blue
2Blue (aka Tirthankar Poddar) forayed into the Mumbai rock circuit in 2000. Having gained notoriety for his powerful high-pitched singing and on-stage charisma, he was soon invited to sing for Vayu. After 5 years in Vayu and countless monumental shows, 2Blue formed the hard rock band Zedde (pronounced z?d). Always a man for his heroes, the self-taught singer attributes his vocal prowess to his childhood heroes: David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, and Bruce Dickinson. For him, if a thing was good once, it always is.
Photo Credit - Shivangi Kulkarni