It was at the fag end of 2016, that we, for the first time, came to know about a wonderful singer, who was coming out with an exciting mashup of Telugu hits of the year. And it was still in the pre-production stage, and our good friend Harish Nagaraj was already claiming her to be the next best thing to happen to Tollywood. And it perfectly happened as he predicted. A name splashed all over the magazines, newspapers and of course websites as soon as the video came out. Manisha Eerabathini became an undeniable sensation for every indie music lover. It was just the start, for what was to be an incredible time period of four months, where Manisha grew from strength to strength. Today, she is one of the most sought out Singers, by the biggest musicians in the industry. Why did we wait till now to get an interview with her? Well, seriously we have no idea (the stars didn’t align, I guess). But hail and ho, here we are talking to Manisha, about basically everything about her. The excerpts of it below…
Manisha, you are a wonderfully popular singer in the Film industry today. We’re curious as to where your journey started? Were you always meant to be a singer or was it an acquired destiny?
I wouldn’t call myself a wonderfully popular singer but I have definitely had some awesome opportunities! My parents enrolled me in Carnatic classes when I was younger in the US and growing up, going to music class was just a part of my childhood. It didn’t become a passion until later on in my teenage years but I never considered pursuing it until after Padutha Theeyaga, which happened in 2013. So I honestly don’t know whether I was meant to be a singer or not, but I love singing, that’s for sure.
Having graduated in California, you moved your base to Hyderabad recently. What would you say was the major prompt in doing so. If you had to look back and pinpoint one incident which drove you to this path of music, what would that be?
So the shoot for Padutha Theeyaga happened during the summer of 2013, before my final year at UC Berkeley. Approaching graduation and having majored in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, I had started the interview process in the spring semester of 2014 while the show was being telecasted on ETV. Around that time, an uncle randomly had asked me if I considered going to India, which is when I first had this thought. I spent a lot of time thinking it over but ultimately knowing I have an EECS degree from such a prestigious college to fall back on, I made the decision to give it a shot in India. My main thing was I didn’t want to look back on my life and regret not even trying. And I can tell you there hasn’t been a day that I’ve regretted my decision, through all the ups and downs.
The first time your singing prowess struck most of us was when you came out with the YouTube music video, Tollywood MashUp 2016. Could you tell us how did this come to form? Was it always your thought to do mashups as a start, given the fact that it is the latest trend in Music?
In college, I was on a cappella (no instruments, only voices) team called ‘Berkeley Dil Se’. We were a group of 20 members performing competitively and always performed mashups of English and Hindi songs. In fact, the South Asian a cappella scene in the US has been performing mashups for over a decade now. So mashups aren’t very new to me, although it may be the current trend for Telugu people right now.
Prior to the Tollywood mashup, I had done 2 professional mashups on Youtube already – ‘Kammani Ee Prema Lekhane x Thousand Years’ and ‘Ennodu Nee Irundhaal x Flashlight’. One day during the end of November, I was watching a group from my college, perform 5 hit English songs from 2016 as a capella mashup. That’s when I got the idea to do something like this in Telugu! But I didn’t want to make it a cappella and I wanted to include as many hit songs of 2016 as possible but also sound like one entire song at the same time.
So I sat down with composer Karthik Rodriguez who I had worked with previously and we came up with the arrangement. Then I approached director Harish Nagaraj to do the video and in a span of 10 days, everything was done. I wanted to release it before 2016 was over, so it was really very helpful that everyone worked really efficiently – I couldn’t be more grateful for those two and for everyone else who helped with the Tollywood mashup! Ultimately, I just wanted to people to like my idea and given how positively viral it got, I am more than satisfied with it.
With the fact that you are a regular Singer of repute, How has life changed for you? Have your plans to move to India, realised. In that respect, how are things panning out for you?
Life is so different for me that sometimes I joke that I have 2 identities – India Manisha & America Manisha. I essentially left everything/everyone that I know, to pursue something in an industry I know nothing about. (Let me just say, I have a newfound appreciation for immigrants.) I went from a very structured, comfortable lifestyle to a completely unpredictable lifestyle. However difficult it has been though, like I said, I don’t regret any of it. Right now, I love what I’m doing and I have grown a lot since I’ve come here. Life isn’t about being comfortable anyways right?
In your journey till here, we’ve come to realise that two elements – Berkeley Dil Se and Paadutha Theeyaga play a major role. Could you tell us more about them and how they went on to define you as an artist in time to come?
Like I mentioned earlier, I was on Berkeley Dil Se for almost 3 years in college and Padutha Theeyaga was shot over the weekends of one month. Up until my time on Dil Se, I had never really delved into film music or even western music. This really opened me up to different genres of music. Up until Padutha Theeyaga, I had never even sung a full Telugu song. Padutha Theeyaga definitely gave me a huge appreciation for Telugu music and its beauty, both lyrically and melodically.
A little birdie tells us that you’ve forayed into Acting as well ( playing a part in Shekar Kammula’s Fidaa). We’ve seen you being pretty spontaneous, and super comfortable before the camera. Serious thoughts on getting on board with Acting (considering you’ve already done a popular short film – Coffee Shop Love Stories)?.
Why thank you! I was approached to be a part of Coffee Shop Love Stories and Fidaa. I really loved the concept of the Coffee Shop Love Stories episode and I am a huge fan of Sekhar Kammula garu (Happy Days!). So, however knowing that it wouldn’t be too much of a time commitment, I agreed to do both! My main passion, however, has always been music and I’m still learning music, trying to get better. Acting is a completely new art form that I know nothing about but I have been lucky enough to have had some really cool experiences in it. And let me just say after getting a taste of acting, I have an enormous respect for actors, technicians, directors, etc. – making a film is not easy, there’s so much hard work that goes into it.
Your works include the MashUp Ennodu Nee Irundhaal / Flashlight Mashup with Suhasini Ramakrishna. It brings to a thought, How easy or difficult is it to do a MashUp of two starkly different languages. Could you perhaps explain to us briefly as to how these Mashups are done?
Creating a mashup doesn’t necessarily have to do with the language most of the times, although there should probably be some sort of relation between the song meanings. Mainly, it has to do with whether the songs “mesh” together. For me, while listening to one song, I might randomly think of another song and start humming it. This is how it usually starts and then I have to check to make sure the songs don’t clash anywhere in terms of technical musicality. Then I come up with a dynamic flow of the mashup and that’s usually it!
8. Now to some fun elements,
If you had to do a mashup of The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – Something Just Like This with one Telugu or Hindi number, which song would you choose?
This question is great because I just thought of a song that goes with Something Just Like This – I might just post it on my Instagram soon 🙂
One artist, you’d take to a musical date at the Grammy Awards?
Tell us three things which the world doesn’t know about Manisha Eerabathini
1. When I was born, the priests suggested the name Kanteshwari for me.
2. Growing up, I learned oil painting, Bharatanatyam & violin.
3. My last name is actually supposed to be Veerabathini but a couple decades ago, due to some miscommunication, the name turned into Eerabathini.
A Major Role in Avatar Sequel or A Collaboration with Ed Sheeran?
A Collaboration with Ed Sheeran!
Five tracks in your Jukebox/Playlist and the one consistent track you can’t skip these days.
Phone, Dil Ye Ladaku, Dandalayya, Rathaalu, Jeedi Ginjalu (lol)
Three people, you find the most inspiration from? What’s the first thing you would say to them when you meet them?
Honestly, I think there’s something inspiring about every person. It’s up to you whether you want to focus on that positive inspirational trait or not. You can learn something new from everyone!
Lastly, to young singers who aspire to make it big via YouTube/Facebook, what would you advise them? What are the major things they should be wary of? How do you suggest them to go about it?
Honestly, I’m not sure if I myself have figured it out! But post good content, spread positivity & be prepared for all kinds of comments. 🙂
So that was Manisha Eerabathini (Veeranathini if fate would have it), speaking about her journey. We’ve always been big time admirers of her musical works, and mashups and are always waiting to see what she comes up with next. Never miss an update from her side, by subscribing to her YouTube channel, Instagram Handle and Facebook Page right away..!!
Till next time, Ciao..!!