HOW BOLLYWOOD’S BIG PLAYBACK SENSATION MADE HIS MUSICAL MILLIONS
THE current king of Bollywood playback singing, Arijit Singh has become the go-to-guy for music producers looking to create a hit song.
Apart from delivering an impressive number of hit songs, the versatile singer has become one of the most in-demand live performers and regularly delivers sold-out shows around the world.
Arijit will be doing the same this month during his UK tour, which already has sold-out venues and is guaranteeing high-energy performances.
With all that in mind, Eastern Eye decided to deliver an in-depth A-Z so you can find out more about an artist with many millions of fans all over the globe.
A is for Aashiqui 2: The song that turned Arijit into a superstar was Tum Hi Ho from 2013 romantic drama Aashiqui 2. One of the greatest love songs to ever come out of Indian cinema became a global phenomenon and won a Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer. The song has been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and covered by countless artists.
B is for Balam Pichkari: The singer is also an accomplished musician and assisted in the production of songs, including hit Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani number Balam Pichkari. In fact, Arijit worked as a music programmer for big-named composers before becoming an in-demand star (see M).
C is for Concerts: The huge demand for the singer on the live circuit has seen his price shoot up in recent years. Playing sold-out shows around the world, including in the UK, has turned Arijit into a millionaire (see R) and substantially increased his global fanbase. The acclaimed performer says that he is most happiest in front of a live audience.
D is for Directorial debut: The singer made his directorial debut with Bengali film Bhalobasar Rojnamcha, which is a compilation of short films tackling different subjects.
E is for Extortion: In August 2015, Arijit claimed that he received an extortion call from a gangster named Ravi Pujari, who demanded around £520,000 from him. Although the singer refused to file an official complaint, the police made a diary entry of the matter.
F is for Fame Gurukul: Arijit first came to prominence on reality TV series Fame Gurukul in 2005. The classically trained maestro was initially hesitant about joining the Indian version of Fame Academy, but took a chance because singer Shankar Mahadevan was included in the judging panel. Although he lost, Arijit then entered an- other reality show, 10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil, which was a musical face-off between the winners of Fame Gurukul and Indian Idol, and won.
G is for Genres: Although best known for romantic Bollywood ballad Tum Hi Ho, the singer and musician has attempted an impressive number of genres throughout his career. He also injects different influences, including rock, into his live performances and has expressed a desire to explore the classical musical style more. Arijit has said he likes all genres except heavy metal because it is too loud.
H is for Hairy: The singer said he had a scruffy beard and unkept long hair because he didn’t have time to get a haircut or shave. In one inter- view, he described himself as horrible-looking, saying he hadn’t cared about his image till date and didn’t want to do anything about it. Arijit also said he wanted to look more like a musician than a pop star.
I is for influences: Like many versatile singers, Arijit had various influences growing up, including Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh, Mehdi Hassan, Kishore Kumar, Ustad Rashid Ali Khan and the various gurus who taught him music (see T).
J is for Jeet Gannguli: Although Mithoon composed Tum Hi Ho, most of the tracks Arijit worked on in his breakout success Aashiqui 2 were com- posed by Jeet Gannguli, who was looking for a fresh voice and stumbled upon Arijit’s song Duaa on YouTube.
K is for Koel Roy: On January 20, 2014, Arijit married his childhood friend Koel Roy at a Tarapith temple in West Bengal. This was his second marriage as he was previously involved with one of his co-contestants from a reality show. Roy was also married before and already had a four-year- old daughter.
L is for Let There Be Light: The big-hearted singer has done a lot of work for charity, including raising money for the underprivileged, and also has an NGO named Let There Be Light.
M is for Music Programmer: After his reality TV success, Arijit started working as a music programmer for various big names in Bollywood, including Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Vishal Shekhar, Pritam and Mithoon. Arijit said it was the only way for him to survive in Mumbai. He would also sing scratch versions of songs during his days working with the composers and got noticed by many of them.
N is for Neeye Vaazhkai Enben: After singing in various other languages, Arijit finally made his Tamil debut with the song Neeye Vaazhkai Enben from the film Pugazh.
O is for Open Letter: The singer recently wrote an open letter of apology to Salman Khan and up- loaded it onto social media. He was convinced Salman had removed a song sung by him in Sultan because of a misunderstanding and attempt- ed to say sorry. Whilst Salman said that it was a non-issue, Arijit was removed from the soundtrack when it was released despite being heavily indemand.
P is for Phir Mohabbat: The singer actually made his official Bollywood debut with the Mithoon-composed song Phir Mohabbat from Murder 2. He wasn’t even aware that the song recorded in 2009 was eventually released in 2011. “I had sung it in 2009 and had forgotten about it. It was only when a friend of mine told me I knew it had released. Even after it became a hit, my desire for play- back didn’t grow, I was too busy programming music,” said Arijit.
Q is for Quest: From classical training to entering reality TV, from working as a music programmer to becoming the number one male singer, Arijit has been on quite a quest to reach the dizzying heights he has done. The singer has admit- ted to having struggled along the way, but the rocky road to success has only made him stronger and more deter- mined to succeed.
R is for Riches: The immense popularity of the singer on the live circuit has resulted in him earning millions from performing on the circuit. According to Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, he earned £3.67 million in 2014 alone. Arijit has remained grounded despite the success and still uses public transport whenever he can.
S is for Stage: The first live performance delivered by Arijit was as a four-year-old when he sang a bhajan on stage. He said: “It was my first performance and that was when I realised I could sing. I was nervous but I sang well and was appreciated.”
T is for Training: Growing up in a musically inclined house, Arijit received classically training from a very young age. He first learned music from his mother, who sang and played tabla, before receiving professional training from masters including Rajendra Prasad Hazari. “I used to spend seven to eight hours practicing with Guru Rajendra Prasad Hazariji. He’d experiment on me. I was like a guinea pig. I lost my voice almost 50 times because he would test my voice so much. But I’d do it wholeheartedly,” said Arijit. The singer insists he’s still learning from his late guru: “I dream of him sometimes. We have our little conversations. He still teaches me stuff. Back then there were so many things he’d tell me which I couldn’t under- stand. But now I can connect with them.”
U is for Undercover: The media shy singer largely remains undercover and doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. He very rarely gives interviews, hates having his photo- graph taken and stays away from most high-profile events. In fact, Arijit doesn’t like being a celebrity and said he came into music because he loved it, not because of a desire to be famous.
V is for Victory: The singer has been nominated for over 70 awards and won more than 20 tro- phies, which has included two Filmfare Awards, two Screen Awards and Two Zee Cine Awards. He won the most awards for Tum Hi Ho.
W is for West Bengal: Arijit was born on April 25, 1987, in the West Bengal district of Jiaganj, Mur- shidabad, to a Punjabi father and Bengali mother.
X is for X Factor: The fact Arijit has the X Factor is summed up by the countless compliments he has received from the biggest names in Bolly- wood. Singing queen Shreya Ghoshal summed it up best when she said: “He is versatile and has a soulful voice”.
Y is for Yaar Illahi: The singer made his Mar- athi debut with the qawwali Yaar Illahi from the film Katyar Kaljat Ghusali.
Z is for Zodiac: Arijit is a Taurus. Traits associated with the star sign include reliability, practicality, ambition, sensuality and independence. They are dependable, loyal, generous, down to earth, patient and persistent.