Reality show winner Siddhant Sharma says he's a man made of failure
I'm a man made of failure, says Siddhant Sharma, despite being the pan-India winner of a reality TV show
It's painfully humiliating for a 12-year-old to stand before his class during an extempore speech and fumble over words. The derision that one might invite can cripple an adolescent's confidence. But, it can also teach the child to face his demons, participate again in the same competition the next year, and then go on to win the district finals for three straight years representing his institution, which, in Siddhant Sharma's case, was a boarding school in Kurseong.
Ten years after that incident, Sharma has emerged as this season's winner of The Stage, a reality show that promotes western musical talent in India. This, though, was his second shot at the title, after he was unable to get past the auditions last year. Failure, in other words, seems to have been the singer's constant companion, only for him to climb every mountain that crops up in his path. "I am actually a man made of failure, so it doesn't scare me," he tells us over the phone, having just landed in Mumbai from Kolkata. He adds, "Even in life, a lot of things that I have expected haven't happened. Not all of us grow up in the greatest of situations, but the worst thing a rocker can do is give up. [Rock music] is about fighting failures. So, if I can do it in life, music and competitions are nothing for me to handle."
Those are strong words for a 22-year-old to utter. But Sharma comes across as someone who has truly internalised the rock 'n' roll philosophy of facing adversity with a show-me-what-you've-got swagger. He gives us an example of what that means when he says, "I have a friend who would party all the time and only listen to electronic music. She would never attend live concerts. After a bad phase, she started listening to Pink Floyd, and now she is more of a rocker [in persona] than I am, with all her locks chopped off. I mean, there was a guy who cheated on her, and she's like, 'You think I am going to cry? No. I don't give a f*ck about you or your existence.' That's rock."
One of the biggest adversities that Sharma himself faced was when his parents separated over a decade ago, a fact he had revealed in one of the later episodes of the competition. Talking about that difficult phase, he says, "I'm not a guy who speaks a lot and I anyway didn't want to trouble my mother with all of that. So, I ended up keeping things inside me, which wasn't a good thing since I developed serious anger issues. But art has always helped me. I was a painter and then I got into music, and that just let me be who I am."
Who he is now, having won the show, involves signing a contract with MTV and being flown around the country for concerts. The limelight is well and truly on him and yet, he keeps emphasising how failure is the clay that moulds a person's character. "Do you consider the people who have not got the trophy to be losers?" he asks us, before answering, "No, they are not. You never know, tomorrow they might be working in much bigger places and doing way better stuff than I am. The thing is, you have to be satisfied with doing what you're doing and yet keep trying to be better than who you are. That's really all."
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