“It’s been a confesses that when he came to Mumbai, he didn’t know he would become a playback singer. Looking back at his journey, the singer feels “content to have worked with senior composer such as Rajesh Roshan as well as young talent such as Amaal Malik”. “They have all given megreat journey,” says popular singer KK, who recently completed two decades in the Hindi film industry. The artiste a different understanding of my capabilities. In 20 years, I’ve sung some of the biggest hits. But, it’s never enough. I want to delve more into myself as a musician now,” says the playback singer. Here, he talks about his aspirations, why awards don’t matter much to him, and more.
What are your future aspirations?
I want to focus more on independent music now. When you sing others musicians’ tunes for 20 years, you tend to get lost as a musician. You lose focus on how you started out, and the kind of music you used to make. Now, I feel like exploring myself more as an independent musician. When you have done a lot of good work, there comes a point when you want to utilise the experience you have garnered to better yourself and your music. I want to do that.

Do you plan to turn music composer at some point?
Not really. I am more inclined towards the independent music scene. It is opening up in India. I feel positive about it and want to focus on that.
While you have been nominated for several awards, you have only won a few. Does that bother you?
It doesn’t. As a singer, I haven’t felt any lesser by not getting an award. Winning or not winning an award doesn’t affect me. I just like to do my work in the best possible manner. I am happy getting good songs. I am happy not getting awards (laughs).
You’ve kept a low profile as a Bollywood playback singer for a while now…
I’ve always taken playback easy. I don’t believe in doing something just for the heck of it. I have to believe in something to do it. I feel kaam aayega to kar lenge (if work comes, I will do it). But, I really enjoy working with the newer Bollywood composers.

You’ve kept a low profile as a Bollywood playback singer for a while now…

I’ve always taken playback easy. I don’t believe in doing something just for the heck of it. I have to believe in something to do it. I feel kaam aayega to kar lenge (if work comes, I will do it). But, I really enjoy working with the newer Bollywood composers.
Does it matter to a singer which actor his or her song will be picturised on?
If you sing for a big star, the song gets more publicity and it’s heard more. A good track picturised on a fairly new actor might even go unnoticed. But things have changed over the past few years. Songs from small films that are not successful at the box office have also done well, thanks to the radio.

Apart from music, what else interests you?

I love driving; it gives me a feeling of moving ahead. I enjoy getting out of the city. Driving drives me. It keeps me charged and happy.

In the past, it was believed that it’s difficult to sustain in the industry if a musician doesn’t get enough work. But these days, even reality show artistes, who were once famous, manage to do shows and have a good life. Has survival in the industry become easier?
I feel the younger talent getting fame and recognition has helped. If you talk about reality TV show artistes, they start performing at corporate shows and smaller gigs at lower costs, and eventually earn more over the years. People want good talent in lesser money. So, no one runs out of work. Talking about survival in the industry, it’s subjective. If you’ve come here only to perform and have a good life, it’s fine. But if you want to make a mark as a playback singer, not getting work might become depressing. So, it depends on an artiste’s expectations and aspirations.

Special tracks

‘Tu jo mila’ (Bajrangi Bhaijaan; 2015)
I was holidaying with my family in Sydney, Australia, when Pritam (composer) asked me to record the song urgently. So, I recorded the song in Studios 301, which is a really popular studio. The likes of Elton John, Madonna, Billy Joel and Coldplay have recorded there. And I am a big fan of Joel. So recording in the same studio was a dream come true moment. Also, my wife and kids were present for the recording and were giving their inputs. So that was also quite special.

‘Pal’ (from the album Pal)
It was special because the album was the culmination of my dreams. When I came to Mumbai from Delhi, I only wanted to do my album. When I recorded for that song, it felt like I was living a dream and it went on to become a cult hit.

Tadap tadap’ (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam;1999)
This song was a difficult song for me to render, because I was still in the early days of my career.

‘Aankhon mein teri’ (Om Shanti Om; 2007)
It’s a beautiful song. I really enjoyed recording it with composers Vishal-Shekhar

Alvida’ (Life in a… Metro; 2007)

This song got me back to doing rock music, which I used to perform a lot during my college days. Pritam had sung that song to me in 1998 when we were recording a jungle. And after nine years of that incident, he called me to record that number.

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