Meet Caralisa Monteiro - chances are you might not have not heard of her, but her voice is everywhere. Known as the 'Queen Of Jingles', she has rendered her voice to at least 7000 jingles, the music of around 30 films, and collaborated with the famous Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio to create beautiful melodies.
Her voice grips you in between television soaps, or before your YouTube video starts to buffer - it tries to sell you cold drinks, a mobile network or coffee but also ends up selling some really dreamy and catchy tunes.
Most recently Caralisa has sung for Fitoor for the English version of Rangaa Re along with composer Amit Trivedi.
Over the years, she has rendered her voice to some very popular Bollywood songs, such as Jaane Kyon from Dil Chahta Hai, My Dil Goes Mmmm from Salaam Namaste, Sha Sha Sha Mi Mi Mi from Shamitabh, Tumse Hi Tumse from Anjaana Anjaani (2010), and the really famous Phir Dekhiye from Rock On.
After 20 years in the industry she is not as well known as Shreya Ghosal, or Sunidhi Chauhan. However, in the close-knit ad industry, she is a veteran and a well-known voice, famous for delivering powerful, soulful jingles.
A woman of memorable tunes, these are some ad jingles she rendered her voice to:
Remember this soothing and dreamy Limca ad jingle?
And this really famous Nescafe Ad?
Oh, and the sexy voice behind the Aamsutra ad.
In an interview with Huffington Post, she recalled her journey into the ad world.
"I dreaded the idea of sitting at a desk from 9 to 5, so I thought of singing as a career as I would sing at college competitions and festivals. Post that, I landed a jingle with Ehsaan [Noorani] and Loy [Mendonsa], for a coffee brand that never made it to the market. I got paid ₹3,000 for that — it felt like so much money back then! Then, a friend from the circle told me that [composer] Leslie Lewis was auditioning. Soon, he started calling me for ad films quite regularly. I worked with him exclusively for more than two years — we must have done close to 500 jingles together. And that's how it went."
Upping one's ante is always part of an unconventional job. Talking about the creative space, Caralisa believes in striving to make her work click with her audience.
"You have to be more than a singer — you have to be a voice actress, you have to make different sounds, sometimes funny sounds, you have to try different styles. That makes it interesting."
In the world of ads, where everyone is constantly trying to sell some product or the other to us, maintaining one's work ethic is difficult. And it is as important for the artist to maintain their integrity as it is not to quit. Caralisa explains beautifully how she maintains just the right balance.
"No, I have never quit. I don't believe in quitting. But there are some things I don't do out of principle, like ads for condoms. Condom advertisements portray women in bad light. Five years ago, I did an African condom advertisement and, unlike the ads which objectify women in low light (sic), this advertisement focused on creating AIDS awareness and hence I did it. I have no problem with 'sexy', like, say, the Aam Sutra ad, but I can't do anything sleazy."
You can listen to her debut album Illusions, which was released last year in June and the proceeds of which go to her charity Angels in Disguise, which aims to help breast cancer survivors and is dedicated to her sister Giselle.