When hard lessons turned fruitful
I was born in Meerut and my elders had a strong influence on me. Interacting with them and listening to their experiences, idioms and phrases played a key role in shaping my personality and how I perceive things. I shifted to Delhi where I was brought up and left home at the age of 13 to learn music. I faced a lot of challenges but was determined to pursue music. However, in the quest for earning a living, I could not devote much time to my passion. I tried to work in exports but did not succeed. Then, I turned my focus back to music and came to Mumbai in 2001. I learnt everything in life, except music. I’m an untrained musician, singer and artiste.
Life taught me how to deal with its ups and downs. Even the greatest of individuals, such as Amir Khusro, Tansen and Albert Einstein were not trained in their art or field. They had talent that was God gifted and I’m also blessed to have that talent in me.
My first success came in when I sang Allah Ke Bande. Before that, I sang jingles for advertisements and that got me noticed. I had no idea about films but knew that Bollywood was the biggest form of entertainment in the world. After the song was released, people started liking my voice and there was no looking back. I won the best playback singer award for Allah Ke Bande in 2004 in the presence of some of the biggest names of Hindi cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan. That marked the start of a remarkable journey coupled with the blessings of people and elders.
Idols I look up to
I look up to my father who is also my inspiration. His calm, composed nature and simplicity have set an example for me to follow. I’m also inspired by Pandit Kumar Gandharv who preferred to sing from the heart without any method.
My success mantra
My passion is my profession. I don’t work for material achievements. Each song that I have sung is special to me. I get solace and ecstasy when I sing or think about music. I’m constantly thinking about and composing music. Music is my soul and I sing from my heart.
The challenges I faced in life made me realise that success and failure are just different states of mind. If you suffer a setback, then treat it as God’s way of testing you. And if you are successful, it’s God blessing.
There are times when I’m sitting with my wife and son and they are talking to me but I’m thinking about music. But I smile and sing to make the moment lively.
Advising Gen Y
One should project (imagine) himself/herself in a particular field/profession before taking it up. Look at yourself from someone else’s perspective and see if you are really made for that profession. Think on your own and you will be able to take a wise decision. Remember, every moment when you are real and not fake is a milestone.