Don’t judge a musician by her reality TV past. From giving us the teenage pop anthem ‘Chandu Ke Chacha’ – which made Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ sound profound – to the folksy album Attuned Spirits, Vasuda Sharma has undergone a major musical transformation.
In 2003, the 18-year-old from Haryana was part of cringe-inducing indi-pop band Aasma, assembled by Channel [V] show Popstars. Reminder: They made the earworm ‘Chandu Ke Chacha’ (#NeverForget). “I had a lot of growing up to do,” she admits. Bollywood’s marquee names were composed for them, videos were conceptualised for them, and costumes were decided too – they gave distressed denim a whole new meaning. She says, “Even if we had [something to offer] musically, we’d bury it because we were so young.” A steady stream of gigs followed and in fact, the band never really split (they still do the odd corporate show). That’s when the Berklee College of Music, Boston, came to her rescue.
Sharma returned to India with a definitive voice in 2012. Now, the 28-year-old deftly navigates her way around “loop stations” and “arpeggiators” (synthesisers to you and me). Sample her musical chops on Attuned Spirits, in which raga-led compositions are spliced with the saxophone and cello. With 30 musicians from 11 countries, the crowdfunded album is a cauldron of world music influences. She’s currently having a moment with a cappella covers, the latest being a mashup of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ with ’90s Bollywood hit ‘Oye Oye’ – sounds unholy, but she pulls it off. And for her live sets, she’s assembled a five-piece band that comes with serious indie cred. “I’m in a happy space,” she sums up. “It’s nice to be taken seriously.”