Blab with Sandy: Sireesha Bhagavatula

Blab With Sandy: Sireesha Bhagavatula

Hey, folks! In this week’s #blabwithsandy, we have an Indian Idol with us! She only mesmerized the judges but also won millions of hearts worldwide with her scintillating performances in Indian Idol Season 12. It’s none other than Sireesha Bhagavatula! Sireesha and I belong to the same city – Visakhapatnam and it brings me immense pleasure to bring out her story. Music definitely runs in her family but it isn’t easy to keep running in the current world wherein there are thousands of singers coming up every year. But, she and her sister have been churning out wonderful numbers and we are sure they’d be running the music for many years to come. Let’s wait no further and dive into the exciting blab I had with Sireesha:

Sandy: Hi, Sireesha. Could you let us know about your background?

Sireesha: Hello, Sandy! I was born in Raipur. My grandparents worked there and so did my parents.  My family has been extremely interested in music. My grandfather is a poet and an actor in dramas and plays. He is also a lyricist and a writer.

My sister and I were inclined towards music since childhood. When I was hardly four years old, I started learning music and same was the case with my sister who was seven years then. We used to sing songs that were written by my grandfather, be it devotional or movie songs.

Sandy: How and when did singing beckon you?

Sireesha: I joined a music school and that’s how music became a part of my life officially since childhood. My father too sings and writes poems in Hindi. My mom used to play radio all night so that we could listen to songs. Our grandmother too encouraged us to listen to music.

I was 8 years old when I took part in my first reality show that was conducted by SP Balasubhramanyam sir and the show was ‘Paadalanundi’ sub-juniors. I was one of the winners of that show and then SaReGaMaPa on Zee Telugu happened. I took part in many Telugu as well as Tamil reality shows. This is how my singing journey took a kick start.

Sandy: Could you explain your journey during the audition phase of Indian Idol Season 12?

Sireesha: The initial auditions happened over Zoom calls and I had not informed my parents about it (chuckles). It was during the pandemic and even now the show is continuing. It’s been a long journey. I was sure to give my best but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to visit Mumbai and as travel restrictions and the virus were present.

However, I applied and felt like giving it a chance. I got a call to visit Mumbai but it was a tad difficult to convince my family at home as the situation was horrible outside. I did manage to travel and returned back the same day after giving my auditions. I wasn’t prepared fully and I was not sure if I’d make it but eventually I did!

I started working on my songs and the most difficult round was the Theatre round that had 30 people vying for the Top 15 position and trust me, each individual of that 30 were eligible for the Top 15. I was given the song ‘Kehna Hai Kya’ sung by Chitra Ma’am and that was the song that I used to listen to during my childhood. I gave my best and that’s how I got into the Top 15.

Sandy: You made a wonderful mark as a singer in the Indian idol show. How do you rate your own journey?

Sireesha: During the initial 2-3 episodes, I was very nervous but at the back of my mind, I wanted to give my best. Though I was born and brought up in Chattisgarh, this was the first time that I was singing for a show in Hindi. It was kind of new to me that way and I must admit that it was difficult initially but once I got settled, it became my zone and I made it be my comfort zone.

Especially, my performances like ‘Yeh Haseen Wadiyan’ won praise from the likes of Usha Uthup ji and the judges, who got shocked with my performance and appreciated me for my progress. I believe, I had a great journey and I am happy that my singing won me so much love from the viewers and listeners.

Sandy: You are often compared to Chitra garu. What’s your take on it?

Sireesha: I have many idols in singing, be it SPB garu, and Chitra Ma’am falls in that category too! I admire her a lot and people find a tinge of her flavor in my voice. It’s always a nice feeling when music lovers admire a singer for her vocals and I am glad that I was able to win many hearts.

Sandy: Take us through what went your mind when you got eliminated?

Sireesha: I was in a state of mind wherein whatever be the outcome, I would accept it with open arms. I definitely wanted to move ahead but when I got eliminated, I felt okay and the only thing which ran on my mind was “What’s my next step?”.

Every performance of mine, I used to feel it as my last performance as with that mindset, I could easily overcome any result. To be frank, the elimination didn’t bother me much but what I miss are the trainings and music sessions we used to have prior to and during Indian Idol.

Sandy: What were Highs & Lows of yours whilst Indian Idol?

Sireesha: My high would be my very first solo round which had me perform on ‘Yeh Haseen Wadiyaan’ and Usha Uthup ji’s medley. I was very happy with what I’d presented on the stage. I wouldn’t say this was my low but, there was an episode wherein we had to two performances with four songs each.

I had so much to learn in a limited timeframe. I was performing and practicing hard but somehow I lost my voice and the next day we had those performances. My voice did not open up well.

Sandy: You and your sister Soujanya Bhagavatula, both are singers. How has her influence been in your career?

Sireesha: Right from my childhood, she used to give my tips and also the feedback which no one else used to! Her attention to detail skill is great, ha-ha! She was the one who told me that my mouth doesn’t open properly and I really had that issue during my childhood due to my huge chubby cheeks. She was the first one to point out that aspect of my singing and I really appreciate her.

Judgment from others doesn’t bother me much but a judgment coming from my sister means more to me. I make it a point to send my songs to her and only once I receive her feedback shall I move on to the next steps. This is the influence that she has on my singing and I am grateful for being her sister.

Quick Shot Round:

  • Your biggest fear: Fear of missing out on opportunities
  • Indian idol: If life is a Snakes & Ladder, it is my ladder
  • Music directors you’d like to work with: Would love to work with every music director but to name a few, it would be AR Rahman (I’ve worked with him for ‘Whistle’ and ’99 Songs’), Vishal and Shekar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali)
  • Favorite genre of Music: Contemporary and Jazz
  • Imagine losing your voice for a day, what would you be doing? Oh God! Ha-ha! I will try to work on songs and turn up sad that my voice is gone. Maybe, I’d watch something that will inspire me like some stage performances of big music artists
  • Visakhapatnam: Beauty Personified
  • A song you wished you’d given your voice to it: I am a huge fan of Arijit Singh and I would love to sing the female version of his song ‘Rishton Ke Saare Manzar’
  • Actress you’d like to sing for: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
  • Bollywood or Tollywood: Question not applicable, ha-ha!
  • Given a chance to sing a Duet with: Arijit Singh
  • In one word about: Vishal Dadlani–  Energetic Neha Kakkar: Cute Himesh Reshamiyya: Focused
  • Given a chance to change something in your Indian Idol journey, what would it be? It is a beautiful journey already (smiles). However, given a chance, I’d loved to have sung 1-2 different songs, could have enjoyed more on the sets as I often used to be a silent kid sitting at the corner

Sandy: What is the best compliment you received for your singing till date?

Sireesha: If you’d asked me what the negative comments were, I’d have told many, ha-ha! Positives often go over my head. But, while I was in a Telugu reality show, I remember Vani Jayaram ma’am, Veturi garu and Kalyani Malik sir had tears in their eyes after I sang a song and I’d say, this is more than a compliment, in fact a very big compliment which they conveyed through their eyes.

Another incident would be with Rahman sir. I had been to his studio and he greeted me very well and said, “Sireesha, how are you?” and once after the end of a Tamil show, he told me that I’d sung very beautifully. During Indian Idol, Bappi da was very impressed and told me that he’d make me sing in one of his movies. These words from stalwarts indeed act as the best compliments.

Sandy: What are the songs that you’ve sung for films?

Sireesha: Film songs count is four as of now. My debut song was in AR Rahman sir’s score for ‘Bigil’ which was dubbed into Telugu as ‘Whistle’. I shared that song with other singers. I again sung for Rahman sir’s “99 Songs” along with Jonita Gandhi.

Sandy: What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?

Sireesha: Right now I am concentrating on original songs as I want to bring out my own self with some freshness. I have received a lot of love from the audience and I want to offer them my love through my songs. I am also doing movie covers and uploading them on YouTube and I do have a few movie songs that would hit the streaming platforms sometime next year.

Editor’s note: It was a total joy in getting to talk to Sireesha Bhagavatula and bring out her story. She is as pure as her voice and is definitely here to rule the music charts with her scintillating performances. Wishing Sireesha a blissful singing journey ahead, filled with claps and beats!

Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)

Follow Sandy @blabwithsandy

Follow Sireesha @sireeshabhagvatula

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