Musically Yours: Naresh Iyer

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By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network

In the last few years, we have been witness to the rise of many new talents in the field of music. Right from music directors to singers to lyricists, these new and upcoming talents have been instrumental in giving Bollywood music a whole new feel. While some of them are still trying to find a foothold in Bollywood, others have progressed rapidly through sheer hard work.

Starting this week, Bollywood Hungama brings to you a unique and exclusive feature called 'Musically Yours' where in we profile a new and upcoming talent from the field of music each time. This week we have for you Naresh Iyer, the singing sensation who is best known for his chartbusting tracks 'Roobaroo' and 'Paathshala' from the smash hit Rang De Basanti. In this exclusive tete-a-tete, Naresh opens up like never before and shares everything about his growing up years, his favorite composers and his future plans.

Claim to fame

But obviously 'Roobaroo' from Rang De Basanti

How it all started?

I am a pukka Bombay boy, born and brought up in Matunga. I was doing stage shows during my college days at SIES College. However, I never really planned to make a career in music at that stage. I was also doing my Chartered Accountancy during my college days so didn't really have time to pursue music. During those days, Indian Idol reality show had caught on big time and my mom wanted me to audition for that. But I was bored of taking part in competitions during my college days, so I didn't go for the auditions the first time. Call it destiny or what but my parents were hell bent on me taking part in some popular reality TV show and when the auditions for Channel V's Super Singer began, they immediately registered my name and the rest as they say is history.

The 'Super Singer' Experience

Channel V's Super Singer was a huge competition as there were nearly 20,000 participants across India. By the grace of God, I made it to the Top 25. From that stage, A.R.Rahman sir was one of the co-judges along with Mr. Adnan Sami. During the final stages, Rahman sir told me "Naresh I have good news for you and bad news for you. Which one do you want to hear first." But naturally I asked him about the good news. He said, "The good news is that you are recording a song with me next week in Chennai and the bad news is that you are out of this competition" I was left with mixed feelings of joy and disappointment. I thought Rahman sir was just trying to console me for my elimination but to my pleasant surprise, exactly less than a week after that, I got a call from his office asking me to come down to Chennai to record with him

The first 'Big' break

When I met Rahman sir in Chennai, I didn't know which song or film I am going to sing for. He just told me "Naresh, I have a few tracks here and there. We'll just go with the flow and see which one suits your voice best." The first song of mine which got released was a song called 'Mayilirage' from a Tamil film. After that I recorded a few more songs with him for both Tamil and Hindi films

The Turning Point

It would have to be Rang De Basanti because in RDB, Rahman sir used me abundantly. I sang 3 different songs- 'Roobaroo' which is a country guitar kind of a number, 'Paathshala' which has a racy, hip hop feel and 'Tu Bin Bataye' a very soothing melody.

Though all the 3 songs are extremely dear to me, 'Roobaroo' is the song that gave me immense popularity. To be frank, when I recorded the song I was dead tired and I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams that it would go on to become such a big rage. I am really grateful to God, Rahman Sir and most importantly the audience for having liked my voice.

My Gurus of Music

My grandmother and my parents are my main inspiration. They are the ones who always encouraged me to pursue music. I am really fortunate for having born in this family. Towards the end of my college, I took training in Carnatic and a bit of Hindustani music from Mrs. Sushila Mani and Mr. Chintamani Gore. On the professional, front I am grateful to Rahman sir for giving me that big break

Music I love listening to…

To be frank…I have been a very bad listener. I used to just hum some old Bollywood numbers of Kishore Kumar and Rafi saab during my school and college days. Even now I pretty much listen to the same stuff. However, I do realize that for someone who is into music, it's very important to be well-versed with different genres of music. I am now beginning to listen to different kinds of music.

What's playing on my iPod?

Recently, the song that I can't stop listening to is 'Rehna Tu' from Delhi 6. It's a tremendous and phenomenal rendition by Rahman Sir. I also do listen to a bit of Don Mclean and MLTR. At times Carnatic classical music is also something that I like listening to when I am in a relaxed mood.

Favorite contemporary singers…

There are so many good singers in our country that I just like to listen to each of them and learn from them. Among the current lot, I love KK and Shreya Ghoshal. I've sung a few songs with Shreya and it has been great fun. Among the senior lot, I simply adore S.P. Balasubramaniam sir and Chitra madam. And I must add that personally I've been a big fan of Rahman Sir's singing especially his rendition of tracks such as 'Dil Se Re' (Dil Se) and 'Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera' (Swades)…

My Future Projects…

There is a lot of stuff happening. I am working on a few Tamil films and some Hindi films. I am right now in Chennai and have been singing quite a few songs for a lot of composers right from Rahman Sir to Harris Jeyaraj, Deva and G. V. Prakash (Rahman Sir's nephew) As far as Bollywood is concerned, I have sung a couple of songs in a film called Teenagers and for another film called Husbands. Things are happening a bit gradually on the Bollywood front but I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for some good opportunity to come my way.

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