A R Rahman’s blue-eyed boy, singer Benny Dayal speaks about his Bollywood tryst to Nikhil Taneja.
You are based in the South.. but your songs in
Jaane Tu.. Ya Jaane Na(JTYJN),
Delhi 6have been lapped up here.
(Smiles) I’m just grateful to Mr AR Rahman for giving the songs to me. I’m really overwhelmed by the response. I met Anu Malik in some function in Mumbai, and he gave me a big hug and said that he loved my songs. He didn’t know what I looked like so he was very happy to meet me.
How did AR Rahman spot you?
Three-four years back, I was looking out for work as a chorus singer. An engineer friend referred my name to him. Rahman met me and made me sing for 30 minutes. We vibed well. Next thing I know, he called me for work!
Why were you looking to be a chorus singer?
Being a chorus singer really helps your vocals. When you sing in a group, you shouldn’t overpower the other singers.. you need to control your voice and still be good at it. I’ll still run to sing in a chorus.. because it’s not always about the limelight, right?
How did your first hindi song in
It happened overnight! He once asked me if I could sing in Hindi. I told him I can read, write and speak it fluently. Then he just asked me to dub for
Pappu can’t dance
. Abbas Tyrewala couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a South Indian accent. (Smiles) I didn’t know he was so convinced that he’d use my voice on the final album.
You didn’t know for certain that your voice would be used?
When Rahman makes me sing, I don’t tell anyone. Even if he says the song will be there, I don’t know that for sure. He’s known for his voice casting. And he works very speedily.. so if tomorrow he finds a voice which suits a track more than mine, he’d record that. I don’t take him for granted.. I’m just grateful to him.
What’s your favourite AR Rahman moment?
(Smiles) That was when we performed together in Dubai last year. I was born and brought up there. I was 14 years old when I saw my first Rahman concert in Dubai. And 10 years later, I was there performing with him.
Have you congratulated him on his Oscar win?
Yeah.. I messaged him. I will gift him something personally when he comes back. I’m sure the entire city will light up when he comes.
Why haven’t you been singing for other composers in Bollywood?
Maybe the time for that hasn’t come. I am grateful to Pritam for approaching me for
. I’m based in Chennai so I haven’t approached anyone myself. But I’ll surely come and stay in Mumbai temporarily. I’m more than willing to sing for Bollywood.
So how much Hindi music did you listen to while growing up?
Oh, I’ve been listening to it all my life. I love Kishore
Tum bin jaoon kahan
is one my favourites. He’s so versatile.. I love all his songs from
Mere sapnon ki raani
Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye
to songs of
You also perform with rock bands,
On Vibrator Mode. How do you divide time between them and playback?
It’s simple. On weekdays, I do playback.. and I keep Sundays only for band practice, which is equally important.
will probably come out with an album later this year.
Your break-dance skills are talked about too.
(Laughs) Yeah I love to dance.. I’m a trained dancer. I’m not completely fit though.. I need to lose a lot of weight. But whenever I’m singing on stage, I perform as well.
From the songs you have sung, which one is the closest to your heart?
That has to be
Kaise mujhe tum mil gaye
. Just like the song’s lyrics, I don’t know how I got the song! I’m so lucky.. it’s such a beautiful composition.
(Smiles) I am superstitious about my songs. But hopefully you’ll hear a lot more from me.