Beyond Lisa Mishra’s Tarefaan: 5 musicians whose Bollywood covers made them famous overnight
Some versions are even better than the original
Veere Di Wedding was talked about for a number of reasons, most of them controversial — from the use of cuss words to Swara Bhaskar’s masturbation scene. But there was one thing that united the haters and fans — the acoustic cover of ‘Tarefaan’ sung by Chicago-based data analyst Lisa Mishra. Topping the Bollywood covers charts, Mishra’s mash-up of ‘Tarefaan’ and ‘Let me love you’ (by DJ Snake featuring Justin Bieber) caught the attention of Sonam Kapoor, who reposted the video on Instagram. It was enough to propel Lisa into an overnight internet sensation. She was then flown down to Mumbai by the Veere Di Wedding team for an official reprise of the song. Sounds like a fairytale? She’s not the only one (and we’re not talking about Justin Bieber).
5 desi musicians whose Bollywood covers went viral:
1) Vidya Iyer
A trainer Carnatic singer who grew up in Virginia, Vidya Iyer’s (stage name: Vidya Vox) mash-ups of Bollywood and Indian folk songs with Western pop reflect her distinct aesthetic sensibilities. In 2016, she collaborated with singer Casey Breves to upload a mash-up of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani’s ‘Kabira’ and The Chainsmoker’s ‘Closer’, which propelled her to internet stardom. As a kid, she hated her classical music lessons (we don’t blame her) but they hold her in good stead now. Today, her originals feature the Carnatic twist she’s loved for. Her videos are so well produced, they can easily rival any major pop release.
2) Shobhit Banwait
Imagine popular Bollywood and English songs with additional tabla/dholak beats. That’s what Toronto-based Shobhit Banwait shot to fame for, in 2016. His tabla-infused cover of Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills‘ went viral after the pop star herself tweeted her approval of it. Shobhit is also known as the ‘hot tabla guy’ (thanks to his brooding look, sleek gelled hair and tall frame) and enjoys the attention from his female fans. His videos, shot on a phone, are as basic as they get (his initial videos didn’t even use a mic), but his sheer talent has made sure they still get thousands of hits on each new upload. If desi beats are your jam, you’ll love Shobhit’s work.
3) Jonita Gandhi
From recording videos in her basement in Toronto to being a part of AR Rahman’s album (Raunaq), Jonita’s life has been one many aspiring musicians would kill to have. Her Bollywood and Western covers with Aakash Gandhi on his YouTube channel (88KeysToEuphoria) garnered millions of views 6 years ago and it was also how Rahman noticed her. Today, you’ll find her voice in popular Bollywood songs (‘The Breakup Song’, ‘Allah Duhai Hai’), which have earned a few award nominations too. Her choice of songs display her vocal range — she pulls off romantic, slow numbers and peppy, upbeat songs with equal ease.
4) Shraddha Sharma
In 2011, a 15-year-old from Dehradun struck gold with her first YouTube upload, a cover of ‘Main Tenu Samjaawan Ki’ (by Raahat Fateh Ali Khan). It was dedicated to a friend leaving for Europe but the grainy video of her strumming the guitar and singing was soon clocking in thousands of hits everyday. This led to an album deal with Universal and an album release three years later. Shraddha’s vocal prowess is thanks to her mother, a music teacher who made sure Shraddha trained in Indian classical music. She is partial to slow songs, so people who are into soulful numbers are sure to enjoy her music.
5) Shirley Setia
She’s known as the ‘pyjama popstar’, courtesy her first viral cover (in 2013) that she recorded in her Auckland bedroom, in her PJs. The song was a rendition of ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Aashiqui 2. The audio and video quality were pretty basic since it was recorded on Shirley’s laptop but it managed to win a T-series competition. Since then, Shirley has regaled her followers (2.3 million on YouTube) with romantic originals and performed in India to a crowd of thousands. She has now moved to Mumbai with dreams of making it big in Bollywood. She debuted as a playback singer with ‘Disco Disco’ in A Gentleman. That’s a long way for someone who recorded her first YouTube video at 1 am on a whim.