Satish Sundaresan of Bollywood Hungama caught up with this multi-talented singer for an exclusive two part interview, wherein he speaks all about his growing up years and the much talked about controversy. Over to you, Babul.
Babul, to start with, how does it feel to be holding fort in the industry ever since you started still going strong?
Even though it really feels great, I feel that the year 2013 did not belong to the singers. We (singers) were a little sidelined in many ways more than one. Even though there was not any major action this year, let me tell you that on a personal front, there are some big things planned for the years 2014-15, which I will tell when the time is just right. I have worked really hard on the same. I just want my work to speak for itself. All that I can tell you is that this year was a real turnaround for me as an artiste.
How did you get your first break in Bollywood and how difficult was it to get a break in the music industry?
I attribute my first break to Bappida (Bappi Lahiri) and Anu Malik with the two back to back songs 'Zindagi Chaar Din Ki Naa Rutho Sanam' and 'Aaj Meri Zindagi Mein Pehli Pehli Baar'. These songs were followed by the film 'Ikka Raja Rani'. The rest, as they say, is history.
Whom do you consider as your Guru?
Not many know the fact that I am N.C. Baral's grandson. I attribute all my trainings to him. I have been learning from him ever since I was a kid! While my relationship with him was that of Dronacharya and Arjun, my relationship with Kishore Kumarda was that of Dronacharya and Eklavya, as I only used to hear him on the radio, but never got a chance to meet him.
It was indeed difficult. I have never denied the struggle. I think that almost everybody undergoes an identity crisis. Like Kishoreda underwent an identity crisis stating that his voice resembled K.L Saigal. Noorjehan and Lata Mangeshkar sounded similar, Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt sounded similar. Kumar Sanu and Sonu Nigam, in their earlier days, sounded like Kishore Kumar and Mohd. Rafi. There were days when I used to wonder if I will be able to take the monkey off my shoulder. But then, I knew that there was a rainbow at the end of the tunnel. Today, I have carved a distinct identity of my own.
When Priyanka Chopra was on Miss India finals, she had her evergreen dream man SRK asking her the final question. In a few years, she was acting opposite to him as his heroine. Not many know that even you share the same 'dream-come-true' story when you were working with Standard Chartered bank when you saw Big B’s 'Jumma Chumma In London' show and in 6 months, you were on a world tour with Big B himself! Not many have this kind of luck. What say Babul?
It's a little bit of everything. It will be a bit arrogant to say that luck doesn't play a part. The story of every individual starts and ends with luck. If you were ask me to rate you luck versus talent, then, I will tell you a four liner saying that adorns my bedroom wall, which is about the slogans of Nike and Adidas, which I have connected to 'The Alchemist' book. It says "Just Do It because Impossible Is Nothing and When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it". This sums up my whole life’s theory.
Ever wondered that somehow you have been always associated with stars' more or less debut / initial films: Hrithik Roshan (KNPH), Abhishek Bachchan (Tera Jaadoo Chal Gaya), Tusshar Kapoor (Mujhe Kuchh Kehna Hai) and others.
(Smiles) Oh yes! I will definitely like to call it as luck and destiny. I really do not want to deny that it's not these factors. I would rather go ahead and credit the music directors who chose me to sing these songs. You have to believe that you will be lucky.
Long time back, you said that you are learning the piano. Have you fully learnt that?
You are also planning a book, tentatively titled 'Life as it Unfolded Around Me'…
It should be out in a year's time. In today’s social media age, one's way of expressing has become so very unique. The book's more or less about that.
You shocked everyone a few years back by calling Britney and Jessica Simpson not great singers but a 'studio product'. What you meant by that?
Whatever is happening today, I had predicted 6 years back. Let me drive my point with an example. The human beings always wanted to fly till the time the Wright Brothers invented the aeroplane. What I really meant by 'studio product' is that one's voice can be modified with the recent modern day instruments available that really makes one's voice so sweet. There are several singers who are not even singers. But they are 'studio products', whose end resultant voice sounds so very sweet and audible.
How did it feel to hear your song being played in an auto for the first time?
The first thing that I did was to make the auto rickshaw guy realize that the singer of the song that's being played in his auto is mine! In the bargain, I tried to get a discount from him (laughs).