Arijit Singh

Happy Birthday, Arijit Singh!

At 30, Arijit Singh is without a doubt the voice of his generation. Though he’s probably Bollywood’s most media shy celebrity today, he simply transforms on stage as he holds the mic.

Arijit Singh

The award winning playback singer maintains that he hates being a celebrity, and came into the world of music only for the love of it. On Arijit’s birthday, we celebrate with a jukebox of his biggest hits, and also share some lesser known facts about the soulful purist.

As an 18 year old, Arijit lined up for the auditions of Fame Gurukul (a music reality show) in 2005, not because he wanted to enter the Bollywood music industry, but because he wanted to know where he stood. Having grown up in West Bengal’s Murshidabad, he trained in classical music under Rajendra Prasad Hazari. It was in fact his guru who insisted that he audition for the show because classical music was a dying tradition.

Though Arijit Singh didn’t even make it to the Top 5 on Fame Gurukul, Shankar Mahadevan, one of the show’s judges considered him to be the show’s best discovery and promised to work with him.
Arijit started his career as an assistant music programmer to Pritam Chakraborty, Vishal- Shekhar, Mithoon and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

Shankar Mahadevan was the only reason why I joined Fame Gurukul. He has a classical background and astounding versatility. Shankarji and I have shared a unique relationship. He has helped me in the years after that show, and continues to guide me even now. I have turned to him whenever I have been in financial trouble and he has given me work. – Arijit Singh (as reported by Forbes)

The singer believes he got lucky in Bollywood and success came knocking when he was least expecting it.

My singing career happened by fluke. I’d sung Phir Mohaabat (Murder 2) back in 2009 and had forgotten all about it. It was only when a friend of mine told me, that I knew it had released. Even after it became a hit, my desire for playback didn’t grow, I was too busy programming music. – Arijit Singh (as reported by Forbes)

In a previous interview, Arijit revealed that when he started out in the industry, live shows paid his rent, while he sang scratch versions for Pritam’s compositions, who later took him as the lead singer for his biggest hits.  A purist at heart, Arijit pays close attention to details, but doesn’t care much for fusions and experimentation.

I am a purist when it comes to songs. I don’t like much experimentation. – Arijit Singh (as reported by Forbes)

Before Fame Gurukul happened, Arijit had to go through a number of auditions to make it to the show. The singer candidly admits to have even slept through a few rounds.

I slept through my auditions because there were so many rounds and I used to get very tired after a while. So, I often dozed off.  Arijit Singh (as reported by Forbes)

Arijit has earned 23 awards from 70 nominations. Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2 marked his arrival in the Hindi film industry, for which he received 9 awards from 10 nominations.

But what made him a music producer before an established singer? Well, after not being able to win big in reality shows, Arijit realised that maybe singing wasn’t for him. But he didn’t give up on music.

I realised I don’t have a chance in the playback field, so I decided to diversify. I became a music producer and assisted music directors. But it was a blessing in disguise. That time helped me in becoming a better musician. And, these days all singers are trying to learn various aspects of music.

Apart from music, Arijit also has a keen interest in cycling, photography, Bengali novels and short stories. Apparently, the singer still doesn’t own a car, and prefers taking public transport. Arijit has big dreams. When he started out, his goal was to work with Vishal Bhardwaj. It finally came true with Haider.To be honest, there’s hardly a Bollywood playlist that Arijit Singh is not on. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said in a recent interview that something about his voice strikes a chord with the youth. Arijit is an expression of the 21st century. The youth sighs at his voice.

In the world of music, Arijit Singh is becoming a major creative force to reckon with. He is as prolific in Bollywood as he is in the regional music industry. He keeps alternating between Mumbai and Kolkata to lend his voice to some iconic Bengali melodies and hit his favourite chai shop around the street corner. The artist says that there’s only one place where he truly unwinds, his home in Murshidabad.

(This article is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on April 25, 2016. It is now being republished to mark Arijit Singh’s birthday.)

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