There’s nothing typical about Aiysha Saagar and she definitely doesn’t slip into a mould easily. So when you see this buxom, dusky Fiji-born brunette belt out foot-tapping Punjabi numbers, its inevitably surprising. Born to Indian parents in Fiji and raised in Queensland, Australia, Saagar’s deep connection with her Indian roots is apparent. She sings fluently in Hindi and Punjabi and is very clearly a big fan of all things Bollywood. Having grown up on a staple diet of Hindi movies, the singer rates Asha Bhosle as her biggest inspiration in the world of music and has collaborated with Indian music directors for songs in Hindi, Punjabi and English. Most recently in the news for some rather revealing images, Saagar who holds three educational degrees insists that her claim to fame is still as a singer. With a new tri-lingual album [Hindi, English and Punjabi] coming out which includes her work with Himesh Reshammiya we catch Aiysha for a freewheeling interview with Global Indians, as she talks about her many talents, topless pictures notwithstanding. Read on for more...
When did your journey begin as a musician?
I began singing from the age of 6 and started performing in stage concerts and shows from the age of 15.
With three degrees in Accounting, Law and Financial Planning, what made you finally veer towards music as a profession?
Music has always been a passion of mine. I had to make a difficult decision to give up a successful corporate career to follow my dream when I released my first English/Punjabi single Mundaya. It was no doubt a difficult and challenging path but one that has been very rewarding. I chose to follow my music career professionally because I love it so much and I never wanted to look back and ask the question “What if?”. I have not looked back since. I do some consulting work in the financial planning industry during my spare time – which is usually when I visit Australia - to stay in touch with the industry. I dedicated a lot of time and effort to build my corporate career and I don’t want to just throw it away.
Are you heading to Bollywood?
There have been a few offers made by various Bollywood filmmakers that my management will be considering upon my arrival in India around the end of August. This includes a Bollywood film that is currently in pre-production and to be shot in Gold Coast, Australia.
Did you watch Indian cinema while growing up? Name your favourite Bollywood films.
Yes absolutely! I love watching Bollywood films. Some of my favourite films include old classics such as Qurbani (Zeenat Aman is my favourite actress) and Sholay. But I also love Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Ghajini.
Born in Fiji and brought up in Australia are you connected to your Indian heritage?
I feel a very strong bond with my Indian heritage as both my parents are from India. It is after all my identity, and what sets me apart in a Western country. Whilst I am a proud Australian I also love India and my heritage. This is what inspired me to write Indian Girl which is an English/Hindi song on my new album.
Name some of your favourite Indian musicians?
My favourite singer/musicians would have to be Asha Bhosle, Jagjit Singh, A.R. Rahman and of course Mohammed Rafi.
Professionally who’s your role model?
Asha Bhosle as a singer, known for her versatility, Michael Jackson as a performer and Zeenat Aman as an actress with her own identity and style. I have watched these artists as a child and have been inspired by them.
Sometimes publicity can go the wrong way and your recent pictures with just body paint seem to have sparked an outrage. What’s the story there?
These pictures were taken around 10 months ago to promote myself as an artist to the world, but at a later stage. I have also taken other such photos with a few different types of body art including gold paint as well as my lyrics and other words painted on. These were all for the same purpose in terms of promoting Aiysha the artist. The Australian Flag body paint pictures were never meant to be and will never be used to promote the Gold Coast or Australia to any part of the world especially India where around 60 per cent of the population is conservative. Unfortunately, I was misrepresented with the body paint pictures.