Shirley Setia was in her pajamas when she recorded a cover of the love anthem Tum Hi Ho from her parent's house in East Auckland, New Zealand, in 2013. She entered it into a competition run by major Indian music label T-Series with little idea what would happen.
But as luck would have it, Setia’s mellifluous voice made quite an impression on the judges, who chose her clip out of tens of thousands from around the world as one of the overall winners.
There was no looking back for her ever since. Today, the Indo-Kiwi singer has over 1.6 million subscribers on the video-sharing site and thousands of followers on Twitter. While Shirley hails the digital platform, she also admits to being a victim of cyberbullying.
When asked about the same, the singer said: "Oh, there are a lot of stories. I love constructive criticism because it would help me, but sometimes people... I don't know what they think while commenting.
"I am a human being and I have feelings. I do feel bad when I read such comments. Fans have supported me but others (when they post harsh comments), it does affect me. I wonder why can't they see the amount of effort I am putting in."
Her way of dealing with criticism online is to simply ignore it.
"I don't reply. Sometimes, I have noticed that these guys write hateful comments to get your attention. When they get it, they apologize. You should give attention to people who care about you rather than to haters," she said.
On dos and don'ts for aspiring singers taking the digital route, she said: "Do whatever you have to and be spontaneous. Don't listen to the haters."
But she says nothing comes easily.
"You have to work hard," said the singer, who moved from Auckland to Mumbai last year.
"I literally came to Mumbai not knowing anybody. I don't have relatives here. Back then, I didn't know anyone from the industry. There were moments when I felt low and that nothing was working out. I guess you just need to work hard and believe in yourself. If you want to be something, it will happen. It will obviously take time," she said.
The language was not a problem for her.
"Even though I was in New Zealand, I spoke in Hindi. My Hindi is pretty okay. That's because my parents speak in Hindi all the time. My mother is from Goa and dad is from Haryana.
"I used to watch a lot of Hindi movies at home and listen to songs. I always feel connected to Hindi music in some way or the other," she said.
But her decision to shift to India was considered to be a "crazy" step by her parents.
"I just think that in any creative field, there is no specific pathway to follow. You kind of create your own pathway and go with the flow," she said.
Since then, she has gone beyond doing covers of chartbusters. Apart from making her debut in Bollywood with the track ‘Disco Disco’, she has also released her own songs like ‘Koi Shor’ and ‘Tu Mil Gaya’.
"I am focusing on originals more. I feel they help me to express myself much better," said Shirley.
The young singer is also looking forward to performing at the multi-genre concert Enchanted Valley Carnival, now Comio EVC Mumbai 2017, which has shifted its venue from Aamby Valley City in Maharashtra to Bombay Convention & Exhibition Centre, Gurgaon, Mumbai.
"My journey of performing in India started with EVC last year. I was so happy with the response. I am excited to perform again (on December 17). I have my own band and this time, it's in Mumbai," she said.