Fantastic four

SANGEETA YADAV talks to the top four contestants of Rising Star whose good vocals and determination have brought them to the grand finale which will crown one of them tonight

Living my second life as a singer

For 28-year-old Army Officer Vikramjeet Singh, singing was a pastime which turned into passion. As an amateur, he would practice the songs of Mohit Chauhan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and sing them in the remote stations that he was posted in as an Indo-Tibetan soldier.

Listening to his soulful singing, his Battalion encouraged him to sing at annual functions. After listening to his live performance, DIG Akhilesh Singh Rawat decided to post him in Shimla. Little did he know that he would make it to the top four of India’s live singing reality show — Rising Star. He is the second talent on Rising Star to receive 96 per cent votes, the highest score amongst all those who have auditioned for the show.

“I gave an online audition in Shimla and was called to Jammu and then Chandigarh for multiple rounds. It was in February this year that I got selected for the show and took permission from my headquarters for two months’ leave,” Singh, who hails from Jammu and joined the Army at the age of 18, tells you.

After getting access to the Internet in Simla, YouTube became his music teacher. He gained confidence and while standing next to professional singers at the Rising Star’s stage, Singh felt a sense of pride. His rendition of Dil haara… won him accolades from all three experts and viewers.

“I’m living a second life as a singer. Being an untrained singer and coming to Mumbai to compete with professional singers in the show was a big challenge,” the constable says, adding that all finalists have equally high chances of winning the show as they are good in their own way.

Singh’s performance in uniform was well-received by all experts, especially Shankar Mahadevan. But he had inhibitions in coming on stage in his uniform. “I didn’t accept the request initially as I wanted the audience to judge me as a singer and not as an Armyman singing. I have proved myself as a soldier. On the stage, I have a mission to outshine as a singer irrespective of my background. So I wanted to put my soldier identity away.”

After the show gets over, Singh plans to return to his station and serve the nation. He says he would continue to sing as always. As a winner, “I will donate half of the prize money to an orphanage,” he says.

Promoting folk is my ultimate aim

She comes from a family of musicians dedicated to the Maithli strain of music. Their dedication to this strain is such that they even named their granddaughter Maithili Thakur, who is making waves these days in Rising Star. The best moment on the show for her was getting the ticket to the finale. “That moment, I felt like a winner on the stage. My father and everybody came on the stage and I felt good to have made everyone proud,” Thakur says.

But her journey to becoming a folk singer was not easy. “When we shifted to Delhi, we lived in a rented accommodation for a decade. Every six months we would have to shift as neighbours used to get disturbed by my riyaaz. My father is a music teacher and gives private singing tuition to children in Mandi House. Since his income was not too much, we faced a lot of financial difficulties too. But my school has been a big support by providing me and my two sibling free education from Classes V to XII. My father used to recharge the Internet and I used to listen to a lot of classical singers on YouTube and how they prepare for shows,” the 16-year-old tells you. If she wins the show, she would buy a house in Delhi from the prize money.

Maithli is a veteran at live shows where she sings Maithili songs. She has learnt other genres like ghazal and thumri too. She believes that a strong base in classical music ensures a strong foundation in music. Now she is focusing on Bollywood music and preparing herself to become a playback singer.

“People say that my journey resembles Sunidhi Chauhan’s. I look up to her as an inspiration and want to follow in her footsteps,” she says, adding that she was getting many offers for other singing reality shows but she chose Rising Star because of its live format.

Her biggest competitor? “Bannet and Ankita are the deserving candidates and have high chances to win,” she says.

Punjabi folk needs no vulgarity

Dosanjhkalan… a small village in Jalandhar, came into limelight when Daljit Dosanjh carved a niche for himself in the music industry. Since then, the village has been throwing up many singers aspiring to become like him. One such Punjab da puttar is 23-year-old Bannet Dosanjh who is a finalist of Rising Star.

“My father sang when he was young but my grandparents didn’t allow him to make a career in music. When I completed my Class XII, I faced a similar situation. But my guruji Shamshaad Ali Khan helped me in convincing my family about my career path. Also Daljit Dosanjh’s shining career helped to me garner their support,” he says.

This isn’t the first time he is appearing on a reality show. He made it to the grand finale of Voice of Punjab but didn’t win the competition. He won an All India Radio competition in the folk song category. “I want to be a playback singer and work towards promoting Punjabi folk songs without vulgarity. After completing my MPhil in Music, I want to do a PhD in music as well,” he says.

Talking about what the judges of Rising Star, Dosanjh says: “When I get nervous, I look up to Daljit paji as I get positive vibes from him. Shankar sir supports me to create variations in singing and improvise. Monali ma’am has always found a consistency to my performance,” he says.

For Dosanjh, Vikramjeet and Maithili are the toughest competitors. He made his competitors his best friends but soon all of them got eliminated from the show. “One moment, I was happy by giving a good performance, another moment I felt sad that those my best friends got eliminated. But before leaving the show, they told me one thing that I’ve remembered throughout my performances — they said their hope is on me. Main isii ummeed se aage badh raha hun and unki umeedo pe khara utarna chahta hoon,” Dosanjh tells you. He plans get his sister married off from the prize money, if he wins.

Want to be like Lata Mangeshkar

Born in a family of musicians, 14-year-old Ankita Kundu from Bengaluru learnt singing since she was three, from her uncle, the now late Arun Kumar Chakroborty, a well-known music director in South. She can sing in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and English and has lent her voice to four Kannada movies.

While on Rising Star, Kundu has already bagged an offer for playback singing from Shankar Mahadevan and aspires to become a successful like Lata Mangeshkar.

To be a part of the show, Kundu had to turn down an offer from another reality show.

“I had already got a call to be a part of another singing reality show but then Rising Star happened and I was overjoyed that I had already made it to top 16. I liked the format of singing live on TV so I opted for this. It was a challenge to perform live and remain connected with the audience,” Kundu says.

Out of her three competitors, Kundu feels Maithili has the highest chance of winning the show. She calls her, “chhota packet, badaa dhamaka.” Asked what she will do with the prize money if she wins, Kundu says: “I will donate some money to an organisation working for disabled people.”

Studying in Class X, Kundu aspires to settle down in Mumbai and get professional training. “Managing studies and singing is quite tough. Music is my priority and I would like to study music,” she says, adding that the inspiration behind her singing are Asha Bhosle, Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Shreya Ghoshal, Sinidhi Chauhan, Arijit Singh and Shankar Mahadevan.

(The article also got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/show-time/fantastic-four.html).

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