The playback singer with velvet voice has proved that he is multi faceted and can sing, act and also compose music with effortless ease. Our Mumbai Bureau Jyothi Venkatesh talks to the versatile singer.

You are all set to come up with the single Crazy Dil!

I had written the song Crazy Dil in 2014 during my tour to America and then sang it for MTV Unplugged. The response this song received was what propelled me to do something different with it. I had intended to release independent music online as the medium reaches out to music lovers across the world at one click. When I met with the Culture Machine through my agency Kwan, I instantly knew they would be the right people to release Crazy Dil digitally. I am looking forward to see the audience’s reaction to Crazy Dil on Being Indian Music”.

Is it true that both you and your son Newaan are part of the music video?

Directed by Sonal Batra of Culture Machine, the Crazy Dil video is a quirky, bubbly one to match the energetic tempo of the electronic dance number. I sing and dance in the video in which Farah, Sunil and Kailash will be seen in never seen before avatars! While Raj Kumar Hirani plays himself, Farah takes up the role of a ring master whipping Sonu at the circus, Sunil is a zombie waking up from the graveyard and Kailash Kher sweating it out in the gym! Natalie Di Luccio is dressed as an Egyptian queen and a super cute moment also features my son Nevaan Nigam making a special appearance at the end of the video.

Is it true that you do not have any grudge against music directors who did not give you work?

I do not hold any grudge against any music director who didn’t give me work then. I would not like to take his name but there was this top music director who just left the recording room when I could not sing one note properly and I had to literally run behind him and say sorry to him before he relented and let me sing the song. When you get success, gile shikwe door ho jaate hain since success is the biggest revenge. If her trainer had not pushed P.T. Usha hard, she would not have made it big as a sprinter.

Is it true that you used to bow down in front of the bungalows of music directors?

When I used to make the rounds of various music directors’ houses in my modest two- wheeler, there were three music directors who had the I.S.I mark, like Laxmikant-Pyarelal. I used to park my scooter outside and bow down in front of their houses, because my mother had asked me. I had no star father to back me but my passion for music drove me all the way from Delhi to Mumbai though I was the topper of my school. I left my studies after passing my 12th standard in school to pursue music.

When did things start looking up for you as a singer?

When Sa Re Ga Ma started way back in 1995 and I was approached to be the host of the show by Gajendra Singh, I felt I would not die of hunger even if the music directors did not exactly swamp me with work. I remember at that stage I was asked to do playback for Anupam Kher for a film starring Jugal Hansraj for whom Kumar Sanu was asked to sing. I felt bad because though the song was not bad, I wanted to sing for mainstream actors in mainstream films. Only after J.P. Dutta asked me to sing for Border things started looking up for me as a singer.

Why are you in favor of music reality shows?

I am happy that quite a few new singers have emerged now, thanks to music reality shows. If only Indian Idol was not there, there would have been no reference point at all for Amit Sana or Rahul Vaidya of Indian Idol. I confess that it took me a long time to gain confidence as a singer Today you just need one platform like the stage in our country. I am happy that today there are several stage shows are being held all over the country and good singers like Abhijeet Sawant, Rahul Vaidya and Amit Sana are either hosting shows or singing and making money though they are not getting as many opportunities to sing for films. You cannot help it.

Do you feel that today’s singers are more confident than what you were when you had started?

When I compare me with the singers who aspire for a break today, I feel that they do not have to struggle at all, because they have more confidence than what I had and even drive around in BMWs. As a singer, I wouldn’t have been what I am today, had it not been for my exposure on TV. TV breaks the myth around you and makes you naked at the same time.

Is it true that from Shekhar Kapoor to Ramesh Taurani, everyone wanted you to do his film at one point of time?

As an actor, I used to get eight to nine offers a day, and since there was no one to guide me about a proper launch, I ended up choosing a multi star film like Jaani Dushman as my launch pad in films as an actor. I thought that since big stars like Akshay Kumar, Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Manisha Koirala etc all were part of the film; I would not be blamed even if the film bombed. Even in my wildest dream, I did not imagine that the film will end up as a disaster at the box office. My next release Love In Nepal produced by T. P. Aggarwal was not bad at all but it was released nine months after it was completed. I did one more film Kaash Aap Hamaare Hote with Juhi Babbar opposite me. I’d not blame Raj Babbar or Nadira for the film not having shaped the way we thought it would. After my films flopped one after the other, I learnt the biggest lesson in my life – to say No though from Shekhar Kapoor to Ramesh Taurani, everyone wanted me to do his film at one point of time.

Is it true that Indian Idol was the turning point in your career?

I should confess that Indian Idol was definitely a big turning point in my life after I was written off as far as movies were concerned. It was with Indian idol that I realized that India loved and respected me at a time when meri khud ki respect kam ho gayi thi as far as I was concerned. I am a Kayasth. I have no State at all. I am proud that I have come up in spite of the fact that I have had no political back up.

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