By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Benny Dayal is a name which many not ring a bell instantly, but once you hear him sing, you will immediately recollect that his is the voice behind chartbusters such as 'Pappu Can't Dance Saala', 'Tu Hi Meri Dost Hai', and 'Kaise Mujhe Tum Mil Gayee'. Benny is music maestro A.R. Rahman's blue-eyed boy these days and a voice you are likely to hear a lot in the days to come. From doing a mundane job as a HR professional to singing for the biggest of stars, Benny has come a long way. In this special edition of 'Musically Yours', Benny opens up like never before and reveals his musical journey. After this casual interaction we are convinced that irrespective of whether Pappu can Dance or not, Benny can certainly sing.
Claim to fame
'Pappu Can't Dance Saala' from Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na
The Early Days
I am basically from Kerala but was born and brought up in the Gulf. I came to Chennai to do my college. Music has always been my first and foremost love and ever since I can remember I dreamt about being a playback singer. Right since my childhood, even during my days in the Gulf, I was taking training in music. When I came to Chennai, I couldn't learn any music but I did start listening to different genres of music during my college days. I even took part in a lot of inter-collegiate competitions. During this time, I participated in a talent hunt for a Tamil pop band. This was on the lines of Channel V's Popstars (Aasma and VIVA). To my good fortune, 5 of us were selected including me, and we created the band called S5. We shot a music video, released an album and even featured in a Malayalam film. That was my first professional venture in the field of singing.
The Meeting with the Maestro- A .R. Rahman
After being busy with the band S5 for a while, I was looking to get into playback singing but unfortunately nothing really was coming my way. I got so sick and tired of waiting for the right break that I took up as a job as an HR professional in Chennai. While I was working, I came in touch with Mr. A.R.Rahman. One of his sound engineers told me that Rahman was looking for chorus singers and I went to meet him. When I met him, he remembered me as Rahman sir was the person who had inaugurated the S5 album. He asked me what I was doing these days. I told him that I was working as a HR professional. He just asked me to record a few chorus portions and said he will get back to me.
The Turning Point
A month later I got a call from Rahman sir's office saying that Rahman is looking out for a singer who can sing in Arabic. Apparently, someone had told him that I sing in different languages and genres. When I went and met him, he asked me to sing something in Arabic. I hummed a few lines and Rahman sir was pretty impressed. He kept making me sing for sometime and then said, "Wow...you have a very good accent and diction". He immediately asked me to sing the final take.
The first song which I sang for him was the Tamil version of the song 'Chinamma Chilakamma' for this film called Sakarakatti. I sang the male part of it and later it was converted in a duet. He thought I sing pretty decently and then gave me an opportunity to sing few tracks including 'Pappu', 'Nazrein Milana' (Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na), 'Tu Hi Toh Meri Dost Hai' (Yuvvraaj), 'Rehna Tu' (Delhi 6) and 'Kaise Mujhe Tum Mil Gayee' (Ghajini)
Music I love listening to...
When it comes to music, I listen to anything and everything. I just enjoy listening to music of any type. As a musician, I believe one must be well versed with different genres of music across languages
What's playing on my iPod?
My iPod is a concoction of different types of songs. Right now I am hooked on to songs by Raul Midon. He is this blind, American R&B singer. He plays the guitar and sings a-la Stevie Wonder. He is simply amazing.
I would say A.R.Rahman because I started listening to film music seriously only after Rahman sir came onto the scene with Roja, Bombay etc.
Favorite contemporary singers...
My favorite singer has to be Shankar Mahadevan. I just respect and adore him too much
I wish I had sung...
'Dil Se Re' by Rahman sir is one of my favorite songs. I also wish I had sung 'Masakali'. It's a beautiful number and very hatke from the rest.
Singing for Aamir Khan and Imran Khan
When I sang 'Pappu...'I had no idea how Imran looked. In fact I first saw him only in the promos of Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na. But he is a really cool guy. As for singing for Aamir sir, I was a bit apprehensive whether my voice would suit Aamir Khan. But when I saw the end product after the song was picturised, I was satisfied.
Winning the prestigious Filmfare RD Burman award
It's a great feeling but it doesn't stop there. It's just a first step and I can't be complacent. I need to strive for a lot more
What lies ahead?
Well...that's for you to see; when it comes out you'll know. I am working on a few Hindi and Tamil numbers but wouldn't like to divulge much at this stage.