By and large, music plays an important part in the lives of Indians. Every occasion calls for music — from birth to festivals to marriage. Every second person one meets is a singer and a good one at that. So, what is the easiest way to become an established singer?
Reality the only way
If one were to go by the hype, it looks like reality shows are the answer to the dreams of millions of aspiring singers. No, it’s not a sweeping statement, reality shows have actually sprung a few genuine surprises. Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghosal — two top singers today, who started out as reality show contestants — are instant recall. But if one takes a sceptical look, Indian television in the last 10 years has aired almost 20 music reality shows, providing a platform to countless aspirants (some really bad ones) over the years. Every show throws up a fresh batch of talent, and most (not necessarily the Top 3 winners) are lapped up instantly, mostly by Bollywood music directors and composers, some even signing the new kid on the block on the spur of the moment. A few end up with plush stage assignments, from Baisakhi fests abroad to New Year celebrations in 5-stars. The halos around the newbies remain till the next batch arrives. Except for Sunidhi and Shreya, no one, out of the thousand or so contestants, has had that kind of staying power. None, other than these two ladies, has become a brand unto himself or herself.
How to be a singer? There was a time when the Indian music industry threw up quite a few by of music albums and stage shows. “To cut across the clutter, one needed talent and dedication. A singer would consider himself lucky if he was signed by a music company after many years of struggle,” says singer Shaan, adding, “Today, even with minimum talent, you can be a singer, if you produce your songs, become a composer’s muse or come with a lot of connections.” He says, “If I were to start my career today, I wouldn’t have made it!” Many, like Shaan, lament the fact that music companies, the TV and radio hardly support private albums anymore. Bands and stage shows, minus the Bollywood touch, lack sponsors and support. An artiste who produces his own album simply does not have the capacity to market it without adequate sponsorship.
No shortcut to success
There’s no shortcut to becoming a successful singer. “The only shortcut,” says Shankar Mahadevan, “is to be super-talented. You got to impress a composer in 20 seconds. If
you blow him off his mind, you’ve made it!” But in the hunt for instant fame, has the CV-hugging struggler got lost somewhere? “No, we still pick up talent when we see one, not necessarily from reality shows. Even in reality shows, we have given breaks to around 18 singers, but not all are from the winners list. Some were not even nominated.” Shankar recollects how he chanced upon Shilpa Rao, who was standing with her CV outside his studio. “I heard her on the headphone and signed her for the Saiyya Re number from the Salaam-e-Ishq movie. A similar incident happened with Javed Ali.” Today, both Shilpa and Javed are singing stars in their own right.
Really easy, is it?
Of course, these shows bring up genuine talent. It gives a platform to all, and the truly deserving shines with his/her ability to catch the pulse. Says singer and music guru, Suresh Wadkar, “Reality music shows, in spite of their race for TRP ratings, have kindled hope for millions of talented singers (especially those from the economically weaker sections) by providing a platform they otherwise couldn’t have dreamt of. These shows have provided exposure to so many; many singers have got work through this medium.” Composer Salim Merchant thinks the reality format is a great idea to showcase talent. “Since most of the judges are from the music industry, the contestants get noticed. It’s a great platform for a composer looking for a particular voice/timbre for his current work.”
“One doesn’t ‘become’ a singer; one’s born a singer.” What Salim Merchant says can very well be the bottom line of all the hoopla around singing. “There is tremendous talent, but there’s also a craze for overnight stardom. Everything today has to be instant,” laments Shaan. Old timers lament that ‘fann’ and ‘kala’ are just not respected anymore. Where are the out-of-the-blue singers like Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Kailash Kher? Reality TV, in a way has sounded a death knell for those who mesmerised the nation with their melodious voices. “Youngsters with wonderful voices star in these televised contests. But there’s no proper training. The voices remain untrained and the strain shows after a few years,” says Wadkar.
Is it the reason why there’s a sea of singers out there today, but very few with the staying power to last, say, a decade? We need to do a reality check.
Despite an inclination towards humanities, Mohit Chauhan took up science in college because ‘all (his) friends were opting’ for the same.
After completing his Master’s in zoology, under pressure from parents, he came to Delhi and thought he would go into advertising because that did not require any technical training. Recently in Gurgaon for an event, the singer got talking about the challenges of playback singing, his impression of Delhi and how he escapes selfie-crazy fans.
IT’S CHALLENGING TO BE A PLAYBACK SINGER IN BOLLYWOOD
He might make it look effortless, but if you ask Mohit, he thinks that playback singing is anything but easy. He says, “It’s very challenging to be a playback singer in Bollywood. When you go to the studio, you don’t know what’s going to hit you. And sometimes that scares you. One day you are asked to sing a love song and the next day a rock song in a really high pitch. Somebody else makes a song and then you are invited to sing that song. That’s challenging because a music director lives with a song for a couple of months at least, and as a singer, you are supposed to walk in, give the song two hours, sing it and feel exactly the same kind of passion as the composer.”
NEED TO DITCH THE COMFORT ZONE
“Be it a musician or an artiste, everybody likes to be in their comfort zone, because that’s where you are most happy. You are good at a certain genre and you want to continue doing that, but in Bollywood, you have to keep evolving. Like Rahman sahab once told me, ‘Once in a while, it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone. That’s where you find certain things that you’ve never done before’.”
I AM JUST A COG IN THE WHEEL
While his contemporary Arijit Singh – whom Chauhan refers to as the ‘other singer’– had recently said that he wished Sunny Leone was not in the video of his song and singers including Sonu Nigam have been critical of the kind of lyrics that Bollywood songs have these days, Mohit says that unless he is making his own movie, he wouldn’t interfere with the music composition or the casting. He says, “When you sing for a film, you are not in control, because somebody else is directing it, somebody is doing the lyrics. If I make my own songs, I would want to be completely in control – see myself the way I would imagine it. But as a playback singer for a film, a singer is just one little cog in the whole wheel.” He adds, “I don’t interfere with the lyrics. I try to do my part – the emotional expression of the song – to the best of my ability.”
HONEY SINGH’S MUSIC IS EASY TO UNDERSTAND
Talking about his contemporaries, the singer says, “It’s good to have variety. Everybody is doing their bit. Honey Singh, for one, writes his own songs. His songs are written in the language that everybody can understand.”
BANDS NEED TO MAKE SIMPLE MUSIC
As a singer who has been a part of a band and then moved to playback singing, Mohit says, “India has a lot of independent musicians apart from those working in films. And Delhi had a lot of them when I was here, when the band scene was starting. I still like to play songs from my Silk Route days at concerts. I think bands here just need more exposure. These musicians need to make more music that is mainstream – simple music.”
WHY CAN’T PAHARIS FEEL COLD?
The singer has spent some fifteen years in Delhi. Thinking back, he says, “If you are from Uttarakhand or Himachal, in Delhi, you are just a pahari. It’s alright as long as they don’t say something that hurts you. When I was in Delhi and winter would come in, I would be the first one to put on a jacket. And people would be like, ‘Oh you are from the mountains, man, how can you feel cold?’ So, I would tell them, ‘Since I am from the mountains, I respect the cold. I know when it’s coming, so I put on a jacket.’ It’s important to respect nature.” Talking about how music can bridge cultural gap and referring to the discrimination against north-easterners in Delhi, he added that not just the cultures of different states, “It’s important to know the cultures of the world. That’s how you can respect them. Teach kids music from the NE – I think artistes can play a big role in that.”
DELHI IS AGGRESSIVE
Mohit went on to tell us that, “I love this city – very lively, but a bit aggressive. I have encountered aggressive people on the road. The culture of the city makes one like that. Wherever there’s too much of traffic, people get impatient. They start honking too fast – but as long as it’s within limits, it is okay. Because that also shows that people are passionate.”
DELHI’S SELFIE CRAZE
When Chauhan was in Delhi around the beginning of 2014 for a performance at the annual fest of Hindu College, his fans’ excitement had led to a stampede-like situation. Talking about the experience, he says, “It’s always great to have people coming in and wanting to hear the music. Delhi has a lot of energy. And performing on campus can be very invigorating, very inspiring. But on the organizers side, there should be something to make sure that people don’t get hurt. Although, it’s always great to have some madness, sometimes, it gets tricky and you have to get out of there quickly. Everybody wants a selfie. So, you have to rush to your car and leave right after the performance, because if you don’t do that, you are stuck there for at least two hours!”
WATCH: India’s Raw Star Episodes
Her love for Bollywood made Asonye Ajachukwu Bliss choose India as her destination for studies. The 20-year-old from Nigeria, who is pursuing her B.Sc in Bhavan’s Vivekanada College, is also an aspiring singer who loves all things Bollywood. Admittedly, Bollywood has been a constant part of her life since childhood.
“Change of place is always necessary in life and what else could be a better destination than moving to a country that you are already in love with. I grew up watching Bollywood movies with English subtitles and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is my all-time favourite. Shah Rukh Khan is my favourite actor,” she declares with a broad smile that any fangirl of Shah Rukh will have on her face while talking about him.
She shares people have always been chilled out, supportive and receptive to her. And the only problem she ever had in the initial days was with the local dialect. “There is a lot of difference in the English we speak in my country and the way people speak here. But, it slowly got better and now I completely speak English in an Indian accent,” shares AJ.
Another difference she spotted between her home and India is that kids here continue to stay with their parents even after they move to university, whereas, in Nigeria, kids are asked to manage everything on their own. “Though staying with parents is indeed amazing, it also makes one dependent. It was a surprise to me initially but I am fine with it now as I developed a fair amount of understanding about the Indian culture,” says AJ, signing off.
He even opened up about the title track Ae Dil hai Mushkil.
This weekend is going to be a blast on The Kapil Sharma Show. The guest for the episode this Saturday are award-winning lyricists Swanand Kirkire, Manoj Muntashir and Amitabh Bhattacharya. While on the show, the trio will speak about their journey in the industry while sharing some anecdotes.
From what we have got to know about tomorrow’s episode, Bhattacharya will speak about his initial days in the industry. During the ‘90s, he wrote lyrics under an alias name fearing he would not get a chance to sing. He even opened up about the title track Ae Dil hai Mushkil.
While on The Kapil Sharma show, Amitabh Bhattacharya said, “I had come here to become a singer and I felt that agar main lyrics mein apna naam dunga to kahin singing ka kaam milne se naa reh jaye. I am speaking about the late 90s when I had come here… but dheere dheere daur badla. People became more accepting and encouraging of talents that one had.” (I had come here to become a singer and I felt that if I write lyrics with my name I won’t get work as a singer. I am speaking about the late 90s when I had come here… But slowly, time changed. People became more accepting and encouraging of talents that one had.)
During the episode, he also spoke about how he wrote the title track of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Amitabh Bhattacharya recalled that on the day he and Pritam Da had a meeting with Dharma and has to present the song to them. He said, “What happens with Pritam Da is that agar shaam ko che baje meeting hai, to wo kabhi kabhi paanch baje bhi dhun de dete hain…” (What happens with Pritam Da is that if you have a meeting in the evening at 6, at times he gives you the tune at 5 pm.)
He continued, “Finally, when we left for the meeting, and as we sat in the car, he (Pritam) gave me the dhun. And it was the title song of the film for which I was briefed that it had to have a lot of shiddat and more… From Oshiwara to Khar, I was sitting in the backseat of his (Pritam) car and just kept writing and luckily it all came in a flow. By the grace of God, it got approved as is too.”
The title track of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was chartbuster hit. It was written by Amitabh Bhattacharya, composed by Pritam and sung by Arijit Singh.
On This Training, You Will Learn…
Voiceology India came about when Reshmi having attended a music conference in Mumbai in 2017 realised that there was a need for English vocal lessons for the Indian people.
During this conference she was asked by many attendees about English singing. She saw the trend that there were many Indian singers who were wanting to sing in English. She felt she could make a difference by providing them with the vocal training necessary.
She approached her own Vocal Coach Marion Rouvas and have put together the program “Singing in English for Indians” incorporating Marions 10 Essential Lessons for easy singing.
Have you always wanted to belt out English songs but fell short with the notes and the way the words roll off the tongue?
Have you ever wondered how some Indian singers are effortlessly singing in English, and can switch easily between English and Hindi.
Discover the secret no one in the industry wants you to know. Learn how to sing in English when your mother tongue is Hindi.
Brought to you by acclaimed music coach Marion Rouvas, who has coached the likes of: Alfie Arcuri (Winner of The Voice 2016) Universal Recording Artist
Jessica Lingotti (Burn The Floor) International artist. (Performed on London’s Westend 2017)
Andrew Tierney (Human Nature) Sony Recording artist, currently starring in Las Vegas
International Recording Artist, Australian based Bollywood singer Reshmi Kumar.
“Singing in English” is an effective online course that will set your dreams free.
Join us in these 10 easy to follow online lessons, and you will be well on the way to becoming the best singer you can be!
Laxmi Agarwal revealed that her dream was to become a singer and participate in the reality TV show, Indian Idol. Read here to know the whole story behind this.
Laxmi Agarwal who is an acid attack survivor, has inspired Meghna Gulzar’s upcoming film, Chhapaak. Laxmi recently revealed that her dream was to become a singer and participate in the reality TV show, Indian Idol. During the promotions of Chhapaak on the current season of Indian Idol where Laxmi turned up along with Deepika Padukone, who plays Laxmi’s character in the film, Laxmi said that she had left her home to participate in Indian Idol because it was her dream to come and sing on the stage. But, the unfortunate event (the acid attack) delayed her dream. However, even today, her dream is still alive, and thanks to the movie promotions and the love of all her well-wishers, Laxmi could grace the Indian Idol stage.
As for Deepika, she has had a roller-coaster ride in Bollywood. Right from being the Shanti Priya in Om Shaanti Om, to playing Malti in Chhapaak, a woman who rises from the ashes just like a phoenix right after facing an acid attack; Deepika has essayed a variety of roles on the big screen. Today, she is one of the most established actors in the industry.
About the film
Chhapaak is set to release on January 10, 2020. The movie is directed by Meghna Gulzar, and Deepika Padukone has also worked as a producer for the film. The film will also star Vikrant Massey who will play the role of Amol, who is based on Laxmi’s real-life husband. In an interview with a media portal, Deepika Padukone revealed that Chhapaak might be the most difficult film she has ever done. While the role itself was hard-hitting, and she struggled during the makeup for the movie due to the prosthetics on her face.
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A celebrity personal assistant earns almost double than the average personal assistant. But how do you become a celebrity personal assistant?
Perhaps one of the perks of being a celebrity personal assistant is talking with this person and meeting other celebrities in the process. But celebrities rarely put an ad in the paper saying they are looking for a personal assistant.
If you want to get your foot in the door, you have to network with people in the entertainment industry so your name will come up if there’s an opening.
What Qualities Does A Celebrity Personal Assistant Require?
If you want to keep your job as a celebrity personal assistant, you have to know everything. This means you have to be internet savvy and competent with the technologies.
It is likely that the person you may be working for does not know how to transfer files from the cellphone to the computer, send an email or keep track of their finances.
Just like any other job, this one is not easy. As a celebrity personal assistant, you have to be there 24/7 to take care of almost everything. You may even have to go shopping for your client if they do not have the time to pick up what they need from the store.
Starting from managing the star’s household, answering, returning and making calls, managing mail matters especially coming from fans, organize and plan events such as parties, and some other menial jobs to provide the needs of the celebrity.
Aside from being a personal secretary, a receptionist, an office or administrative assistant, a personal runner all rolled into one, a personal assistant also becomes the “absorber” of the employer when tasks are not properly done or if the things are not organized in a way that the employer wants them to be.
One of the most important qualities of a celebrity personal assistant is to be trustworthy because there are things you know that must never get out into the public. Remember, you have your client’s image to protect and part of your job is to keep it that way.
How To Get A Job As A Celebrity Personal Assistant
Before you decide to go to an interview with a certain celebrity, make sure you like and respect the person you are working for.
Do some research because if you don’t think you are able to work with this person, you are just wasting your time when there is probably someone there that you would prefer to work for.
If someone refers you to a celebrity, be calm and collected when you go to the interview, and explain what you can do for them.
You may not meet the celebrity during the initial interview since this will be handled by their current assistant or a production company representative but if things go well, he or she will be the next person you will talk to.
If you don’t get the job, don’t give up and try working as a non-celebrity personal assistant first. Perhaps you need to develop some experience and skills before trying again.
Should networking not get you anywhere, you can try talking to a celebrity to see if they have an opening. You can do this by calling up their publicist and even if they have no opening now, it wouldn’t hurt to leave your contact number or resume because there could be an opening in the future.
You could also join an agency that handles the personal assistant needs of celebrities. To increase your chances of landing a job, send your resume to as many agencies as possible.
If you are planning to become a celebrity assistant, you must know how to:
- Choose the type of celebrity you want to work for such as Bollywood actresses, musicians, professional athletes, movie directors, top-selling authors, models, and the like.
- Develop and enhance your own skills by being updated to social etiquette, technological advancements and current events.
- Prepare yourself by undergoing training to improve the qualities needed for the position.
- Earn some experience by trying to work as a personal assistant to other eminent people before getting involved with the show business industry.
The Pros And Cons Of Being A Celebrity Personal Assistant
Working as a celebrity personal assistant will be very hectic. Whenever they want something, you have to get it for them at once even if it is late at night or early in the morning.
If the celebrity you happen to work for is a singer and goes on tour, you will also have to travel with them so if you can handle things like that, then you are in the right business.
One of the perks of being a celebrity personal assistant is meeting other celebrities and attending special events. If the celebrity you work for can’t make it, chances are you will, so your ticket does not go to waste.
In many cases, a personal assistant becomes every boss’s eyes, ears, and mouth. Aside from being the boss’ “go-to” individual, the personal assistant also plays a variety of roles to be able to cover all the needs of the employer.
Before, personal assistants were only known to work for people with high ranks and positions in the society. These people are usually those that hold high positions in the government such as politicians, celebrities or other public figures that have big influence to people, chief executive officers of various business firms, and the like.
But for as long as a celebrity runs a business that operates on a daily basis, has a hectic schedule due to running a personal business or has health conditions but still needs to work, they need to hire their very own personal assistants.
Among those types of employers, being a personal assistant for a celebrity could be considered as one of the most tempting, because aside from working closely with a celebrity, you also get the chance to experience the exciting inside world of show business.
High Pay And Great Perks To Boot
Aside from earning a handsome amount of money, celebrity personal assistants also get the chance to live like a star because they will become closely involved with the lifestyle of their employers.
They also enjoy perks such as free travel when their bosses need to go out of town or out of the country, lots of free stuff, and backstage pass or tickets for concerts and premier nights.
But, the biggest perk of them all is that being a celebrity personal assistant can give you the opportunity of entering the exclusive world of the stars and even help you make friends with some celebrities.
About the author:
One of the highly revered singers in the country, Sonu Nigam has not shied away from making daring remarks in recent days. In one of his recent interviews, Sonu yet again made a controversial statement.
Sonu is promoting his recently released song
A devotional number, Sonu Nigam’s I shwar Ka Vo Sacha Banda has been receiving a good response. When asked about the same, he said: “ The response has been very nice. People are getting drawn towards songs that spread positivity. The concept of the song is exactly the concept that I believe in. Basically, we can never match the perception of the ultimate godliness but we can at least try to become one. And I think the song conveys it and my life also has the same core value. “
Talking about the numbers on Youtube and other streaming apps, Sonu added: “ They should matter but the question is how are you achieving it. You can have millions of views but how do you sleep at night when you achieve it by buying it. How do you justify this? This is the way the world is today – organic views do not matter but inflated views do matter. Each to its own. You cannot trick God. My song Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin was not even promoted well by Sony. I wonder why they undermind that song. The song just got hit and no other song from Agneepath is as famous as this song. People recognize me with this song .”
‘I don’t want him to become a singer…’
Sonu Nigam was also asked about the future plans of his son Neevan. Regarding this, the talented singer said: “ Frankly, I don’t want him to be a singer, at least not in this country. Anyway, he does not live in India anymore, he lives in Dubai. I have already got him out of India. He is a born singer but he has another interest in life. As of now, he is one of the topmost gamers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is number 2 in Fortnite. There is a game called Fortnite and he is the top gamers in the Emirates. He is a brilliant child with a lot of qualities and talent. And I don’t want to tell him what to do. Let’s see what he wants to do himself. “