Arijit Singh, a name that resonates with melodies, transcends the boundaries of fame. At just 27 years old, he has carved a niche for himself in the music industry as the voice of his generation. Despite his remarkable ability to hit the loftiest of notes, Arijit Singh remains firmly rooted, maintaining a humble and unassuming demeanor.
Averse to the media glare, Singh shies away from interviews and public attention. His reluctance to engage with the media is a well-known facet of his personality. His publicist often struggles to secure interviews, and even when they do materialize, they come with a caveat: patience is required. Singh is one of the most media-shy personalities in the industry. However, when we managed to meet him in a decrepit recording studio in suburban Mumbai, we couldn’t help but ask: Why does he choose to remain elusive?
Singh’s Statement On Why He Came Into Music
“I hate being a celebrity,” Singh confesses while running his fingers through his tousled mop of curly hair. “I came into music because I loved it, not because I wanted to be famous. My singing career happened by fluke.” Singh’s journey into the world of playback singing was serendipitous. His debut in Bollywood, “Phir Mohabbat” (from Murder 2), was released in 2011, unbeknownst to him. Even after it became a hit, his desire for playback singing didn’t grow, as he was engrossed in programming music.
Arijit Singh’s tryst with fame began when he auditioned for “Fame Gurukul,” a music reality show in 2005. Surprisingly, it wasn’t to make it big in Bollywood but rather to gauge his own abilities. Hailing from West Bengal’s Murshidabad, he had trained in classical music under Rajendra Prasad Hazari. His guru insisted he auditioned for the show as a means to preserve the dying tradition of classical music.
The presence of renowned singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan as a judge on “Fame Gurukul” played a pivotal role in Singh’s decision to participate. Mahadevan’s classical background and versatility resonated with him. Their unique bond extended beyond the show, with Mahadevan mentoring and assisting Singh, even during financial troubles.
Bollywood Playback Singing Was Predominantly Dominated By Conventional Voices
While Singh didn’t secure the top position in “Fame Gurukul” (he was placed at No. 6), Mahadevan had the utmost faith in his talent. “Arijit is that kind of a person,” Mahadevan said, emphasizing that Singh’s genuine talent was evident from the start.
Although he couldn’t clinch the title in “Fame Gurukul,” Singh’s journey led him to Mumbai, where he joined another reality show, “10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil,” which featured a musical face-off between winners of “Fame Gurukul” and “Indian Idol.” Singh emerged victorious, winning a prize of Rs 10 lakh. While some advised him to splurge on luxuries like a Mercedes, Singh, influenced by a recordist from the show, invested in his own recording setup. This marked the beginning of his journey as a self-taught music programmer, leading to collaborations with industry heavyweights like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar, and Mithoon Sharma.
In those days, Bollywood playback singing was predominantly dominated by conventional voices that could fit any leading man. Opportunities for distinctive voices, such as Singh’s, were scarce. Shankar Mahadevan recounts his frustration when trying to convince a producer to retain Singh’s version of a song, only to have it dubbed by another singer.
Concerts And Live Shows To Make A Living
Singh continued to program music and perform live shows to make ends meet. The hustle of Mumbai, especially in Lokhandwala, where he lived, fueled his excitement and often kept him awake into the early hours.
In 2010, Singh began collaborating with music director Pritam on several films. The experience of working in Pritam’s song factory introduced him to the nuances of Bollywood songs, different from the classical bandish he had learned. Singh’s journey as a playback singer gained momentum when he started singing rough cuts of songs, or scratches, at Pritam’s insistence. It became a daily practice, leading to his eventual breakthrough.
A year later, Singh sang a classical arrangement in Pritam’s song “Raabta” (from Agent Vinod), which garnered widespread acclaim. This marked the turning point in his career, leading to more opportunities, including the song that would change his life forever, “Tum Hi Ho” from “Aashiqui 2.”
Attracting The Attention Of Musicians And Paving The Way For Success
Subsequently, “Duaa” (from Shanghai) brought Singh to the attention of numerous music composers, paving the way for the meteoric success of “Tum Hi Ho.” “Aashiqui 2” not only made him a sensation but also a household name, introducing audiences to his earlier works.
Jeet Ganguly, one of the composers behind “Aashiqui 2,” recollects discovering Singh’s “Duaa” on YouTube while searching for a fresh voice. Mahesh Bhatt, the producer, desired a musical revolution similar to the one brought about by the original “Aashiqui” in the 1990s. The first recorded song, “Tu Hi Yeh Mujhko Bata De,” charmed Bhatt, setting the stage for Arijit Singh’s incredible journey.
Mahesh Bhatt, in admiration of Singh’s voice, acknowledges his contemporary appeal, and the singer’s future as a creative force to reckon with in the years to come. Singh’s versatility extends beyond Bollywood to the regional music industry, where he lends his voice to iconic Bengali melodies and enjoys street-side tea at his favorite chai shop.
Arijit Singh’s story is one of humble beginnings, a relentless pursuit of excellence, and a remarkable rise to stardom. Despite his monumental success, he remains true to his roots, embodying the spirit of an unassuming musical prodigy who conquered the hearts of millions with his soulful voice.