On a musical high
A few months ago, when singer Divya Kumar stepped into the studio to record Jee Karda, a heartrending song about a man’s quest for revenge and how it consumes his passion for life, he was a nervous wreck. After all, the medium paced, intense composition from the upcoming Varun Dhawanstarrer, Badlapur, was nothing like the upbeat numbers (read Aafaton ke Parinde from Ishaqzaade and Hawan Karenge from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) that he's sung earlier.
Singer Divya Kumar (above) hopes to sing for Shah Rukh Khan someday
Kumar gave it his best shot and the result is for everyone to see. The song has been going strong on various music charts ever since it hit air waves last month and the young artiste has been flooded with congratulatory calls and messages from well wishers and fans alike, some even comparing his voice to Sukhwinder Singh and Kailash Kher. “It’s a great compliment to be compared to these singers, but I need to create my own identity,” says the modest Mumbai lad.
An early start He confesses music has always been an integral part of his life. “My grandfather, Pandit Shivram, was a music composer and singer, who has worked extensively with acclaimed filmmaker V Shantaram. My father, Bhagwan Shivram, too, was a recording artiste for almost 40 years. So music has always been a part of our lives. Every kid in my extended family can either sing or has interest in music,” informs the 28-year-old. Kumar’s journey began at the age of six when he started singing for stage shows. “At one such show, Ramesh, son of Kalyanji uncle (of Kalyanji-Anandji fame) heard me and I met the legendary composers. I joined their Little Wonders group, and performed at stage shows and went on world tours till the age of 16,” he reveals.
Three-and-a-half years ago, the artiste met music composers Sachin-Jigar through common friend, Priya (who is a lyricist and Jigar's wife), and since then, has been working with them as an assistant music programmer. But his entry into playback singing happened when composer Gulraj Singh asked him to sing a song called Alakh Niranjan for the 2012 movie, Tuteya Dil. Though both the film and the song went unnoticed by the audience, music composer Amit Trivedi was impressed by Kumar and approached him to lend his voice for the energetic Aafaton ke Parinde for Ishaqzaade. More songs with Trivedi, including Shubhaarambh for Kai Po Che and Allah Meherbaan for Ghanchakkar followed.
But it was with Shankar Ehsaan Loy's Hawan Karenge for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag that Kumar consolidated his position as one of the most promising singers to look out for. “I was nervous because I had a cold on the day of the recording and it was a high-pitched song. Shankar Mahadevan immediately put me at ease, saying that I have to sing the composition in a complete masti (fun) mode. The trio boosted my confidence so much that I just had to deliver,” he recalls. With Sachin Jigar, Kumar’s equation goes beyond professional. “They are like my brothers,” says the singer. He has sung for them songs such as Chanchal Mann (Shuddh Desi Romance), Shake Your Bootiya (Finding Fanny) and more recently, Jee Karda.
Endless possibilities With his slightly rustic, earthy voice, Kumar might have been at a disadvantage a couple of years ago. But with the audience opening up to new voices and genres, the singer feels it’s a good time to be in the music industry. “I’m sure every singer feels his or her voice is limited to certain genres. Being typecast might not necessarily be a bad thing.
If you're good at a certain genre, you will get those types of songs. But once in a while, we need to get out of our comfort zones and experiment. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the audience should never get bored of you,” he explains. Kumar admits there are more surprises from him in store this year, but refuses to divulge anything further. He, however, admits that he nurtures a desire to sing for super star Shah Rukh Khan. “That has been on my wishlist since the day I started singing,” he smiles. With the way his musical journey is progressing, we wouldn’t be surprised if the universe conspires to fulfill this wish as well.