So, how did it all begin?
I hail from a town called Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan. Actually, it’s my father’s dream that I am trying to realise, who was an ardent admirer of Mohammed Rafi and aspired to become a playback singer. But he met with an accident which confined him to bed for seven years. I moved to Mumbai in 2006. I consider myself really fortunate that I have been able to fulfil my father’s dream.
How were your early days in Mumbai?
Since no one was interested in giving a newcomer like me the opportunity to sing in the studio, I would start singing anywhere and everywhere during those days, whether in parties or out in the streets. Then, I met Kumaar who is a successful lyricist,and remains a very good friend till date. He was the one who introduced me to Pritam Sir. Exactly one year after the first meeting, he asked me to sing for him. So that’s how my journey as a playback singer started.
Rabba Main Toh Mar Gaya from the 2011 movie Mausam wasyour big break. How has the music scene changed since then?
The advent of internet has changed everything. No one buys CDs anymore. Today, everything is done using smart phone apps. The audience has got segregated into different zones depending on their tastes. A strange thing is that today there are many singers who are giving hits on a regular basis andyet people don’t know their names. On the other side are those who get viral and become overnight sensations. ButI feel that quality of work is still a differentiating factor.No amount of controversy or publicity can substitute it.
The songs of Udta Punjab were a big hit in your career. How did Ikk Kudi inparticular affect you?
I think the credit goes to Amit Trivedi. He not only loves to experiment with his music but also encourages his singers to try out new things. Before Udta Punjab,I had sung the title track of Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana for him back in 2012,which received a lot of appreciation and perhaps that’s what made him put so much faith in me with the songs of Udta Punjab. Now, Ikk Kudi feels like a pretty straightforward song but actually it is not easy to sing. The version that I have sung in the movie is quite similar to the original song by Shiv Kumar Batalvi. I am really overwhelmed by the kind of appreciation that I have received for it. It will always have a special place in my heart
Tell us about your upcoming single titled Tu Hi Mera Rab and the inspiration behind it. Who all have contributed to the song?
It’s a soulful track that has Hindi-Punjabi lyrics. The romantic number is penned by Ashok Punjabi with music by Durgesh Rajbhatt.I have also contributed to the lyrics. The real inspiration for Tu Hi Mera Rab is my dear friend Sanaa Shaikh who has acted along with me in the music video. It marks acting debut for the both of us. It’s directed by Amar Singh Chhabra. It’s getting released by Saga Music.
You are making your music video debut. Tell us about the experience.
Well, I have done some small parts in music videos wherein I have appeared as myself but this is the first time that I have appeared as an actor in a full-fledged manner. To be frank, it was a very tough experience forme. The moment the camera starts rolling, it becomes a challenge to act in front of it. I find it hard to even keep my eyes open.