Actress-singer Shirley Setia became an overnight sensation. From singing YouTube cover songs to getting a contract from T-Series to becoming an actress – she has done it all in a span of just a few years. Not only has she been called the Next Big Singing Sensation by Forbes magazine, but she has also landed herself lead roles in films with stars like Shilpa Shetty and Naga Shaurya.
In a heartfelt chat, Setia reveals how it was to shoot in Telugu, a language totally foreign to her, why she is waiting impatiently for her Bollywood debut ‘Nikamma’, how it was working with Shetty and her new Punjabi song ‘Tere Naal Rehniya’. Excerpts:
What was the feeling like when Forbes Magazine called you Bollywood's Next Big Singing Sensation?
I was thrilled because I never expected it at that time. I think the person who had written that article had seen some of my videos on YouTube. I did not even know that such a thing would happen. But it was extremely motivating and encouraging when I read that. So, I was very happy and sure about the fact that I was going in the right direction.
How did your new song ‘Tere Naal Rehniya’ happen?
Gurnazar and I had worked together some years back. We worked on a song called ‘Koi Vi Nahi’ around three years back. It received lots of love and appreciation from the people. Even we enjoyed doing that song so much that we knew had to do something together again. For which song and all was not decided back then. Then ‘Tere Naal Rehniya’ came along. So, I would say it is fun working with him again. He keeps the work environment very light and fun.
Your Bollywood debut film ‘Nikamma’ has been sitting ready for quite some time. When can we see its release?
This question I feel you need to ask Sabbir (Khan) sir. Even I am waiting for the release of the film but then I feel whenever it is released, it will be the right time for it and I hope that people give it all the love. People are waiting for the film eagerly, I just hope that they even watch the film with the same amount of eagerness and excitement and they like our work.
How did your South film with Naga Shaurya come about?
For that film, they actually saw some of my work and based on that they decided that I am suitable for the role. I heard the narration, came down to Hyderabad and gave a small audition because this role obviously requires me to speak in Telugu. It has been very challenging for me but everybody on sets was very helpful.
Was it difficult to learn a new language?
It still is. I don't think that I have learnt it completely. I am just familiar with it in small bits. Just like we speak fluent Hindi and anyone from outside would not be able to understand us. I was in the same situation on the sets. I was usually the most confused person on the sets. But then everyone helped me a lot with my lines, be it (Naga) Shaurya or even the assistant directors. They are all so patient with my lines. In one particular scene, I was unable to remember certain words but then Radhika Ma’am (trainer) was so patient with me and taught me a different way of remembering the lines. After following her advice and suggestion, finally, things went very smoothly. Everyone has been very kind, sweet and helpful to me on both sets. Even on the sets of ‘Nikamma’, Shilpa (Shetty) ma’am helped me a lot. They have so much experience and it is a learning process for me. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to work with such amazing people.
Lastly, being a singer and actress as well, who is your favourite actor-singer?
I would say Ayushmann Khurrana and even Parineeti Chopra. She is so beautiful at both singing and acting. Then there is Shraddha Kapoor and even Alia Bhatt, she has a very simple and elegant voice. I can give you an entire list (Laughs).