Meet The Voice of KGF's Toofan, Brijesh Shandilya

 - Sakshi Post
  • Brijesh Shandilya is the singer of the Chartbuster Toofan from Prashanth Neel's KGF Chapter 2
  • Ravi Basrur is a true inspiration for me, says Brijesh Shandila
  • Toofan song in KGF is nothing like I expected, he says 
  • Reality shows should stop giving contestants false hopes, says the KGF singer 
  • Musicians are yet to get their due, particularly the small budget artists must get what they deserve, says Brijesh Shandilya
  • More musicians are getting work because of Pan India movies, says singer Brijesh Shandilya
  • I love working with Tanish Bagchi, says the voice of Toofan number in the recently released Yash movie KGF 2 
  • SPB sir and Yesudas Ji are two singers I love the most. No matter which genre of song they sing, they sound divine
  • From being a farmer's son to a sought-after singer, he has come a long way. His latest rendition of Toofan, in Kannada actor Yash's KGF Chapter 2, is topping the music charts. 

In an exclusive interview with SakshiPost, Brijesh Shandilya tells Reshmi AR about his journey in music. 

Your Toofan song in KGF 2 has created a storm

It's mind-blowing. The entire KGF team is happy with the response to the song and so are the fans who had been waiting for long. Everyone's excited and so am I. I can imagine the kind of effect it will create on the big screen. 

This song is very different from your previous songs

Toofan is high on energy. I always get invited to croon energetic songs or dance numbers. But I think in toofan, the limit has been crossed in terms of energy. It is at its peak. It was not easy to sing that song. In fact, I had to give my vocals rest for two days after singing this song. When I watched portions of the movie being edited, I felt that my role should be as much as the others in elevating the scenes. The film should not lose its sheen because of me. 

How do you prepare for a song as a singer?

It depends on the song. If the track seems challenging for the muscles, I am cautious. Singing high pitch songs in itself is a stunt as it requires a lot of prepping up. 

How did you get an opportunity to sing for Prashanth Neel's KGF?

Well, Shabbir Ahmed, who's the lyricist for the Toofan number, is a good friend of mine. KGF composer Ravi Basrur had asked for a sample of my vocals and I sent him. Thanks to Shabbir Ahmed, I got this opportunity. So, when I went there I had a fair idea of the song. However, the song went beyond my expectations. 

So, how did it feel singing for KGF 2, one of the most talked about films right now?

Well, it's good for my profile and yes, I do consider this as an achievement. When the KGF number gets added to my song list, which includes songs like Banno and Golmaal, it takes my profile up a notch.

How was your work experience with Ravi Basrur?

Amazing! He is nothing like the people I have worked with before. He is very down to earth and very if he's managing all the family members. He has no airs about being a star musician. He is a very simple person, who is creating magic with his music staging right in his village, which is wonderful. He has set up his studio at his village, Basrur. And it was such a different experience. Imagine the work he has, KGF is on everybody's lips. I just salute him for the kind of work he is doing and from where is doing. I was very inspired by his style of working. This only strengthened my belief that you can do anything from anywhere if you are passionate about something.

I have worked in big studios, big set up, big cities and suddenly, when I saw that there's some wonderful work happening in a small place, it was both surprising and inspiring. 

The Lockdown period was a trying period for everyone, particularly a lot of people in your industry faced hardships

Yes. At our level too, we had our share of stress. But when it came to artistes, who earned their daily bread had to undergo huge challenges. Suppose there's a band with a lead singer and several band members, the band members' earnings would be way lower than the singer. So, if the band is not performing anymore, then their survival becomes difficult as their monthly income is affected. I guess 90pc of people in the world survive on their monthly earnings, so almost every 3rd person was badly affected. Nobody has such a huge amount of savings (except for emergency funds), to survive without working for so long. And when eight months passed this way, I was wondering how would life go on. And our industry was completely shut, so the entertainment industry was badly hit and the uncertainty was affecting us mentally too. But slowly, when things opened up, we started getting opportunities. And we grabbed every offer, (irrespective of the how much was being offered) with both hands as we realised that saving money was crucial as tomorrow was uncertain. I tried to help fellow musicians in whatever capacity I could. I was also requesting others to help them. 

Before the pandemic, India's music scene was interesting with live concerts. Now, everything's gone live—artistes perform on Instagram, FB live. Do you think now that things are getting back to normal, we can expect to see the same kind of crowd as before?

There are a lot of event management companies who came up with the idea of performing live online. They had even planned an app and promised that we all would get a fair share of income. But somehow, it failed to leave an impression on the audience. For an artist who goes on a stage with a mic in hand, the ambience matters—be it the sound effects, the lighting, the when he begins the song, it goes straight to their heart. But when we are singing online and people are watching on their computers and cellphones, there is no such feel or effect. 

So after all the experiments, finally, people started waiting for normalcy to return. We were not adding to our list of clientele either with virtual concerts. The energy and enthusiasm in a live performance is matchless. There is a festive atmosphere at live concerts when people come with their friends or family to enjoy music. That was clearly missing in virtual shows. 

What's your take on reality shows. Do you think it really opens up a door of opportunities for contestants?

When I started singing, I was looking for an opportunity to sing. Now that I see where I have reached, I consider it an achievement. I guess when people make a beginning, the door is always open for them to showcase their talent. 

Talking of music show, after their reality show stint, not everyone makes it big. I am personally against giving false assurance to contestants. Even big celebrities have revealed that everything is scripted on such shows. It's important for judges to give an unbiased, honest assessment of the contestant's performance. They should give contestants a reality check on their future instead of painting a rosy picture. It's high time we added some elements like asking singers to bring in some originality. Yes, they show their talent by singing some other artist's song. But when they get out of the academy and have to croon a song, they must know how  to add their own style. Judges must ask them what they are bringing to the table, other than singing a song just like the original artist. With such add ons, the show also gets that much more interesting for both artists as well as for those watching the show, because people love to see something new. There's no use for artists to get carried away because when they are back in town, they are expecting miracles to happen and dream of turning into celebrities overnight. Yes, they do get their share of fame in the initial days after their appearance on the show, people recognise them. But when reality hits, they are hurt and sometimes unable to digest it. They are kids and not aware that this phase is impermanent... that the toy given to them will soon be snatched away. It's our responsibility to make them understand what lies ahead.

Be it playing a meloncholic BGM or telling contestants that they didn't get it right—There's a lot of drama happening on reality shows...

I don't think anybody has the right to hurt the contestants. I am not for adding drama to highlight the show for TRPs. It's always good to show people the right path instead of unnecessarily hurting them or giving them undue hype.

And when it comes to artists, If you have decided to become a singer, then it's important that you get trained. It is necessary to learn classic music not because you can become a SP Balasubrahmanyam ji or Bhimsen Joshiji. No. Learning Classical music is like elementary education. Later, you can go on to do a phd or an MBA. Basic learning in music is important to understand the art form. And when you sing, you will know how far or high you can sing in terms of pitch. Going to a studio and autotuning or making your song heavy with programming is something else. But when you go live, it is easy for people to see the real you and gauge your true capacity. And you have been prepping up so can perform on stage live someday. How long can a bride hide behind a ghoongat (veil)? At some point, the face will be revealed, right? And when you become famous and get invited to perform, people will definitely see your real talent. 

Is the Pan India movie concept benefitting musicians?

It depends on the listeners. If a Tamilian listens to Hariharan's Tu hi re (Bombay), then he would hear it keeping in mind his nativity. When a Hindi person hears it, then he will feel the pain in his own way. So, when a song is in different languages, different kinds of people get to enjoy the song. Else, it remains confined to just one region. People will love the rythm. Like for example, if you listen to Butta Bomma, you do enjoy the beats, but you don't know the meaning. However, if a song is in your own language, you will enjoy it all the more. This is good and a lot of money is being spent on this, which means more musicians get work.

What about musicians' remuneration? Do you think they are getting their due in terms of pay?

I don't think they are getting what they deserve. The worst hit are the regional ones. Any region for that matter. Not every singer can be a SPB or Sid Sriram. But every singer has his style and has to get his due. No matter how big a song a regional singer is singing, the pricing and respect given to him, as far as I have seen, is not enough. If I was not singing in Hindi, I wouldn't be invited to sing in Tollywood. 

Is it enough to just have talent to land opportunities or you need contacts in the industry? 

First of all, talent. I am talking as an artist. It's important to first be an artist and then it's important to market oneself well. Else, you won't be able to go places. There are several good singers in every part of the world. Having to put up 3 videos on instagram every day, going with the trend, meeting PRs—this just isn't an artist's cup of tea. But if you want to be in the market, then talent and marketing are both important. Otherwise, you will end up nowhere despite being a good artist.

Tell us about your music albums

So far, I have sung 70 songs in Hindi alone. There are several hit songs among them. People know them by-heart. A single is on cards, I have never tried anything like this before. It's a romantic sad number. Toota Dil is a song which you will get to hear soon. There are also several movie songs, but I can't name them yet till an agreement is signed. I am in the process of giving the best to people and I will continue to strive to bring out the best in me.

Tell us about your next Telugu song

I just recorded a Telugu song, for which S Thaman is the music composer. I had worked with him for Sarrainodu title track too. The Golmaal title track which I have sung too had his music. He is a very well-known music composer. And I got a call to record a song at the Prasad labs in Hyderabad. 

Do you enjoy singing Telugu songs?

I fully enjoy singing songs in any language. I completed the Telugu song in just half an hour, even though the language was foriegn to me. I was able to do that because of my passion and you can imagine how much I enjoyed singing it. Even when I was in UP, I would sing gibberish of Tamil, Telugu songs without knowing the lyrics just to see the output. It gives you an opportunity to play with the sound. And never did I imagine that I would actually get to sing an original Telugu song in my career. 

Which musicians are in your wishlist

I don't have a wishlist as such, but I want to ensure that I give my best no matter who I am working with. But yes, I have huge respect for AR Rahman and I want to add his name to my profile. I have thoroughly enjoyed his music. And he's in a different league altogether. That's my unfulfilled dream. 

Who's your favourite musician, with whom you loved working with

Tanish Bagchi. I have the best songs with him. We have been working together for a long. So there's coordination. It feels like he is doing it for me. I sing his song in 15 minutes and then we chill. So I enjoy working with him

Who do you think is the best singer in South

I love two singers—SP sir and Yesudasji. I think their voice is angelic. No matter what genre of the song they sing, it sounds divine. 

Did you always want to become a singer?

I realised at 20, which is quite late considering today's world. I never thought I was a singer. I would often wonder what would I become. Perhaps, I thought I would end up being a farmer as I hail from a farmer's family. We still grow our own food. I am still connected to my roots and I visit my village at least 8-10 times in a year. 

Amid all this, one of my friends said that I could be a good singer and that I have to focus. From that day on, I started learning music in Allahabad's Prayag Sangeet Samithi (music board). Thus began my musical journey...

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