The voice speaks for it­self

The Sunday Guardian - - Artbeat -

Re­cently, caught up with the play­back sen­sa­tion for a chat about his back­ground, his early strug­gles in the mu­sic busi­ness, and his cur­rent string of suc­cesses. When asked about his de­ci­sion to move to Mum­bai af­ter the Fame Gu­rukul de­ba­cle, Singh said, “I thought it [Mum­bai] was the right place for me to work in, com­pared to the place where I lived. I love my home­town and that place is very good for prac­tic­ing mu­sic and for liv­ing. But Mum­bai was al­ways the right set­ting where you could show­case your tal­ent and try out new things. This was the city where there was work to do, and I think that was my mo­ti­va­tion to shift to Mum­bai.”

Singh be­longs to a fam­ily where mu­sic runs in the blood. At a very young age, he learned to play the tabla, and had three mu­si­cal gu­rus: Biren­dra Prasad Hazari, who taught him Rabindra sangeet; Dhiren­dra Prasad Hazari, who taught him mu­si­cal in­stru­ments; and Ra­jen­dra Prasad Hazari, who gave him a good ground­ing in In­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic. In­deed, it was his gu­rus who in­sisted that he at­tend the au­di­tion of

Be­sides this show, Singh, in his early days, also par­tic­i­pated in an­other re­al­ity show,

in­cluded par­tic­i­pants of Fame Gu­rukul and In­dian Idol. Singh won the show, along with a prize money of Rs 10 lakh, which he in­vested in set­ting up his own record­ing stu­dio and hon­ing his mu­sic pro­gram­ming skills. “I don’t remember any chal­lenges,” Singh said about es­tab­lish­ing his own stu­dio, “but yes, there were mostly tech­ni­cal chal­lenges. I had to prac­tice and go through the study ma­te­rial con­cern­ing mu­sic pro­duc­tion. It was a nec­es­sary process to go through.”

Thanks to the ex­pe­ri­ence he gar­nered work­ing as a mu­sic pro­gram­mer, and of­ten free­lanc­ing with in­dus­try vet­er­ans, Singh has be­come among our most tech­ni­cally ac­com­plished singers. The best of his songs—like “Musku­rane” (from City Lights), “Kabira” ( Yeh Jawaani hai Dee­wani), “Laal Ishq” ( Goliyon Ki Raas- leela: Ram-Leela) and “Sooraj Dooba Hai” ( Roy)— re­flect his tech­ni­cal mas­tery of play­back as well as his knowl­edge of the fine points of mu­sic pro­duc­tion.

The list of Singh’s pro­fes­sional ac­com­plish­ments would, of course, be too long to men­tion here.

But it’s worth not­ing that he has now be­come a singer for whom ac­co­lades and prom­i­nent awards are ba­nal oc­cur­rences. In 2014, he won the Film­fare Award for Best Male Play­back Singer, and an IIFA for the song “Tum Hi Ho” ( Aashiqui 2). At the Mirchi Mu­sic Awards 2015, he bagged the Best Male Vo­cal­ist for his song “Samjhawan” ( Badri­nath Ki Dul­ha­nia). At the 2016 Global In­dian Mu­sic Academy Awards, he was hon­oured for his song “Soch Na Sake” ( Air­lift). And ear­lier this year, he won an­other Mirchi Mu­sic Award for the title song of the film

Singh has gone from strength to strength with ev­ery song. But in the In­dian play­back in­dus­try, suc­cess ap­pears to be a sea­sonal com­mod­ity. There was a time when Udit Narayan en­joyed an un­par­al­leled rep­u­ta­tion as a play­back great. But his time came and went. And his place was taken by an­other—Sonu Nigam, whose own ca­reer’s tra­jec­tory fol­lowed the same ris­ing and fall­ing curve as his pre­de­ces­sors’. So is Arijit Singh, to­day’s big star, wor­ried about what might hap­pen to­mor­row?

Singh told “There is lim­ited time for any play­back singer. Your time is run­ning out, and the in­dus­try is go­ing to change. The ac­tors are go­ing to change. If to­day I am singing good melo­di­ous songs, then maybe, af­ter a year or two, there will be some new singer singing other good and melo­di­ous songs.”

These days, Singh has be­come a part of a so­cial ini­tia­tive on men­tal health aware­ness, #EarForYou, or­gan­ised by Mpower. He will be playing a ben­e­fit con­cert, ti­tled GenM, to sup­port this cam­paign at Mum­bai’s MMRDA Grounds in Ban­dra on Sun­day, 12 Novem­ber.

About the ini­tia­tive, Singh told “I was of- fered to do this and, of course, this is very im­por­tant. The event is not just about talk­ing about men­tal ill­ness. It’s about making peo­ple understand that there is some­thing like men­tal ill­ness and men­tal health. I think it is very in­spir­ing to do some­thing like this, and it is a kind of plat­form where peo­ple can come and en­joy, while at the same time learn how im­por­tant it is to understand men­tal health.”

This is a three-hour-long sold-out con­cert, where Singh will be per­form­ing a setlist that fea­tures fresh num­bers as well as the beloved clas­sics. “I’m ex­tremely thrilled to be a part of this ini­tia­tive by Neerja Birla, Ananya Birla and their team at Mpower. With ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing in the world right now, I be­lieve that we all need to come to­gether and stand up for is­sues that truly af­fect us. Ev­ery voice mat­ters and I’m lend­ing mine. Our en­tire team is try­ing to show­case a new live set. The GenM con­cert is spe­cial. More im­por­tantly, I get to wit­ness peo­ple stand­ing with me in sup­port of the #EarForYou move­ment. It’s go­ing to be a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one in­volved.”

Singh has gone from strength to strength with ev­ery song. But in the In­dian play­back in­dus­try, suc­cess ap­pears to be a sea­sonal com­mod­ity. There was a time when Udit Narayan en­joyed an un­par­al­leled rep­u­ta­tion as a play­back great. But his time came and went. And his place was taken by an­other.

PHOTO: IANS

Arijit Singh.

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