In a conversation with Guardian 20, the singer talks about his musical journey and his stint with MTV Unplugged.
Q. You have given us chartbusters like Sau Tarah Ke from Dishoom and Manma Emotion Jaage from Dilwale. How was Bulleya different from your other numbers?
A. Bulleya was actually different because it was more challenging in terms of its composition. It was a very powerful composition. It was also a great learning experience. Manma Emotion Jaage was a hip-hop number. So, you could also say it was a shift of genre. Bulleya is a very beautiful track and I am delighted to have been the one to sing it.
Q. Do you think Bulleya came as a turning point in your career?
A. Of course, I would say that but I think Manma Emotion Jaage came as a turning point in my career. The opportunity was pretty big for me and coincidentally Bulleya garnered a lot of appreciation.
Q. You are a trained musician and a classical vocalist. Tell us about your journey?
A. I was born and brought up in Lucknow. I completed my education in Lucknow itself. I was a part of my school choir and I was also being trained in classical music simultaenously. I was learning a lot about music. And, I realised that I had a strong inclination towards Bollywood numbers. But there was never a shift from classical songs to commercial ones as I was a part of the band in Lucknow. I was juggling many genres of music. For Bollywood also you need technicality; you have to sing for a particular hero so there is voice projection, using the microphone, singing in a studio and the whole process of voice selection, all these I learnt here in Bombay.
Q. Can we expect some classical numbers from you in the future?
A. Yes, of course, if I get time for riyaaz. It would be an honour for me to get a chance to sing a classical song, but I won’t say that I am ready for it. As a new artist or a newcomer, I will have to connect with the audience. Even though I get some time for riyaaz I am still occupied mostly with many shows, which also gives you another level of satisfaction. So, if given an opportunity, I would request the concerned person to give me ample time because I think it is very important, as I have learnt this from my gurus and they also have dedicated a lot of time to me.
Q. You recently performed on MTV Unplugged. Could you please share your experience with us?
A. I luckily got such a big platform. . This was my first stint with Unplugged. I was pretty nervous since it was my dream stage to perform on. The Unplugged team is very cooperative and gives you a very friendly environment. The team is really good as they know what they are doing. Their vision is pretty clear. We singers work as vocalists, while technical teams do their jobs. So, whatever track is performed, it is done like a team. I was very happy to perform Bulleya here.
Q. How is it different from recording for films then?
A. The only difference is that when we record for films, we work on a picturisation. We have a time set-up or duration and within that time, you have to record that song. And when you perform on a stage like this, you can have additional instruments and different variations of the song and you get a vibe of a more live song. For a film, you compile a song giving priority to the film and on stage your priority is your song. You experiment here in terms of songs. And I hope people like it.
Q. You also love playing musical instruments? Which instrument is your favourite?
A. I love playing the guitar and also love playing drums and tabla. But I don’t get much time to play them. I want to explore more and learn a lot about musical instruments.