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“The only way to deliver the song is to feel it” – Jubin Nautiyal

Photo Credit: Supplied

Crooning “Meherbani” from ‘The Shaukeens’ gave him instant recognition and “Zindagi Kuch Toh Bata” from ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ further consolidated his position in the music industry. At 27, Jubin Nautiyal is not looking back and has his plate full of interesting projects. In this in-depth interview, he touches from his beginnings till his latest songs.

If you were not a singer today, would you be doing right now?
If I wouldn’t be a singer, then I don’t really know what I would be doing. Music is my first and my last, music is everything I have ever known, since the time that I remember, this is what I wanted to do.

How has A. R. Rahman inspired you?
Rahman Saab met me at a very crucial point in my life when I just shifted to Mumbai after my class 12 and as I mentioned, I wanted to pursue music forever. So Rahman Saab met me, he heard me and very genuinely, he told me that my voice is developing and that I am young. Bombay is a place for finished goods and I might hinder my originality, if I stay here and pursue it as a career. He said that I will be learning, right? And continue learning and one fine day, I will feel I am ready. That’s the time to come to Bombay. And he was right. When I turned 21, that time, I started feeling that I should travel with music and when I turned 23, I was completely ready to go to Bombay and I felt it inside that, the time has come.

What was your feeling after being awarded the ‘Upcoming Male Vocalist of the Year’ at the 8th Mirchi Music Awards for “Zindagi Kuch Toh Bata” from ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’?
It was very very unexpected! I had no idea that I will get that award. I had a nomination and I was very very happy and content with the nomination. But it was like destiny and very special to me, because that time, my mom was here, and I always wanted to go and take my first award, somebody from my family, my dad or my mom, should be there, they were just there for the award and it was a great feeling. And I would like to thank Mirchi Music Awards for choosing “Zindagi” as that song which would get me the ‘Upcoming Male Vocalist of the Year’ Award because “Zindagi was a beautiful song and was highly under-rated.

How do you approach singing a composition? Do you usually just follow the music director’s advice or sometimes you give your input?
When a music director approaches me for singing a composition, I always ask for the composition because I want to live with it, hear it for a couple of days and I want to breathe it. I want to understand it and I want to get inside the song so that I can make it mine. And after that, once I have made it mine, that’s when I am dubbing, that’s when I am trying to understand the vision of the music director, which helps me learn and which helps me grow as a musician and as vocalist, as a performer, as well as in our industry, I have never met very very adamant music composers. There are people who are open to new things and new ways of saying things, so we always come together to make that song happen.

“Meherbani” from ‘The Shaukeens’ is one of your finest renditions till date. How do you bring such a chill-out attitude in your singing?
The only way to deliver the song is to feel it. Now lot of people will tell you that you can feel the song, this way to feel it or that way to feel it, but the only way to feel is to say the words rather than to sing them. I say the words, I mean everything I say, I make sure that when I am singing some words, the meaning is cutting through and that is the reason why “Meherbani” sounds so chill-out and it cuts through so easily because every word is very clearly said and every word is felt and meant, when I saying it. When I mean it, it always cut through and it always gets to my fans.

You have sung the title song of ‘Raaz 4’. Are you completely satisfied after singing it?
I am not sure if I am singing the title track of ‘Raaz 4’ but I have just sung this small trailer sound and I am very very satisfied because you know, out there, I get to show my voice and my voice quality, just raw, the way it is, because there is no music behind it and there is just some on-going sound and some visuals. Apart from that, it is just pure raw vocals, so I always like the raw side of music and vocal delivery and melody. Yeah, I am very satisfied to be part of ‘Raaz 4’ and singing it with the first look of the film. And just voice, I think it is quite cool!

Tell us a litte bit how “Ek Mulaqat” from ‘Sonali Cable’ happened?
“Ek Mulaqat” was definitely the first track that got released but it was my second song. My first and my debut song was “Meherbani”. After singing “Meherbani” for Arko Murkerjee, my voice went to Akshay Kumar for approval and he approved it and he loved it. He said he would want to shoot on it. So you know, when that happened, the music company head (Anurag Bedi), he called me over and he really appreciated me and my work. He said that I should work with you and I want to know you more, your voice and your brillant texture to your voice and you are fabulous singer. So that’s when he introduced me to Amjad-Nadeem, who had composed this song, “Ek Mulaqat” for the film ‘Sonali Cable’, and the film was just unreleased. So yeah, Amjad-Nadeem came and made the song, I went and I dubbed it. It was nice, unusual and I got to learn a lot from this song. So that how “Ek Mulaqat” became my debut song and “Meherbani” being my debut song, was my second release song but I love them both.

The industry moves at brisk pace. At 27, what are your initial impressions on the music industry?
Music industry is beautiful. In fact, the whole film industry is beautiful because, we are giving the opportunity, to create a dream for someone, we have the power to create a dream for someone, we have the power to instigate emotions in people, so I really really like the music industry and the film industry. Definitely, it moves at a very brisk pace and my initial impressions are very very good and even today, I feel that the industry is great because, we are just like a family, who are working together, to create something, which never existed and it is very very cool. I think that my job is very cool, to be able to do something, which has never happened before and we do it again, and again and again. So my initial impressions as well as the impressions that I hold now, I think it’s amazing.

Do you read critics’ reviews of your work and do you react?
I love critics. I read every review that people write. And I think criticism is the biggest motivation in its own way for people like me. I find a lot of motivation and a lot of education, I try to understand what the critics say about me. I have been very fortunate, I haven’t got bad reviews as of now and the day, I would, I would understand that my performance is going down and that will really help me buck up and that will keep me in check.

Critics says most male voices these days sound the same. What is your reply to them?
Yeah critics say that most male voices sound the same but I disagree to that because voices don’t sound similar but it’s just that the critics need something, when a new voice comes. They need to compare that voice to something, because they do not know the voice. So whenever they hear a nice fresh voice, they will always compare it to somebody. This sounds like an Atif, an Arijit, a Papon or a K.K. So definitely, that will happen and if that is going to happen, people will feel that most of the voices are similar but it is not that. And even if the voices are similar, the soul is different and delivery is different and there is much more to the song than just the voice. There are many more things like lyrics, the melody, the composition, like the way the music is surrounded and the programming, the production and the music and how it is executed. So many things, so I disagree to this fact that most of the voices sound the same, because I don’t think they do.

Can you share with us the track you have sung in ‘Rustom’?
Yeah I have recently sung in Akshay Kumar’s ‘Rustom’ and it is a beautiful song. It’s the first song that I got to croon with Jeet Ganguly and Jeet Dada is a wonderful composer, a wonderful human being and his music says so. So I really wanted to do something special with him. And when we dubbed the song, we didn’t really know that it was going for Akshay Kumar’s ‘Rustom’ or where would the song go. But it did cut through and I think the credit goes to the Zee Music Head, Anurag Bedi, for pitching it and placing it in the right place at the right time, because it is a big song and a beautiful song, over a beautiful face like Akshay Kumar. I think it is going to to do wonders.

What do you do in your free time?
Free time? (Laughs). See to it, I don’t get free time and I like it that way because I am a person who likes to keep busy. I have made myself so busy and so occupied all the time that I don’t have free time. So yeah, when I am playing music, this is something like free time for me. Even when I am dubbing a song which I really really like, and when I am enjoying my work, so basically, when you are in love with your job, it is free time. You are just doing what you love and you love what you do.

Which song are you currently stuck in your head?
The song that is stuck to my head these days is called “Jag Ghoomeya” from ‘Sultan’. I think it is a beautiful song and a beautiful composition. It gets to me every time. I love the way it is written and composed and Rahat Saab and Neha Bhasin have sung it exceptionally well. Obviously, you know Salman Khan’s films have a lot of good music and a lot of meaningful music and I think this is one of the best songs of this year that I got to hear.

You have sung a few song for Amjad-Nadeem. Do you have share a special relationship with them?
Amjad-Nadeem are like my brothers. I met them in the very initial stages of my life and I develop some songs with them. We get a lot of work together and it is beautiful how different people, from different walk of life, get together and they bond over music and this is how I bond with them. They are both like my elder brothers, they guide me, they tell me, they teach me and I love them. They are amazing.

You are the voice of Hrithik Roshan in ‘Kaabil’. Tell us how this happened.
I have been a Hrithik Roshan fan since “Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai” days and I think that that man is gorgeous and he is amazing at what he does. I am a very big fan of his and I am getting to be his voice and it’s amazing. I haven’t met him yet. I met his father, Rakeshji and his uncle, Rajeshji. I think Roshans make a strong team together and I would like to thank Sanjay Gupta, the director of the film for making this happen, because he called me for one song and I ended up singing two songs, and the second song has a version, and that makes it three songs in the film. Three songs in Hrithik Roshan’s next film, I think I am lucky and I am very excited!

Rustom Music Review

“It is not possible to make a living out of doing theatre” – Raaghav Chanana