Arijit Singh is an Indian playback singer and a music programmer. Born in Jiaganj, Murshidabad, his career began upon participating in the reality show Fame Gurukul (2005), which he lost the finals. After winning another reality show called 10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil, Singh built a recording setup of his own, beginning his journey with music programming. Subsequently, he went to become as an assistant music programmer to Pritam Chakraborty, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar and Mithoon.
Singh rose to widespread prominence and became a household name with the release of "Tum Hi Ho" from Aashiqui 2 (2013). He was bestowed with the Best Male Playback Singer award for the song, in 59th Filmfare Awards. In 2014, he collaborated with Jeet Gannguli--for whom he performed the rest of his tracks in Aashiqui 2 --for CityLights, where he rendered the romantic version of the song "Muskurane", which fetched him most nominations in the year. Jeet Gannguli composed Suno Na Sangemarmar and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's sufi song, Mast Magan garnered him another two nominations in 60th Filmfare Awards.
Life and career:
1987-2004: Early life:
Singh was born on 25 April 1987 in Jiaganj, Murshidabad, West Bengal. His father is a Punjabi while his mother is a Bengali. He initiated training in music from his house, since his grandmother used to sing and his aunt is trained in Indian classical music. He also learnt music from his mother who sings and plays the tabla. For studies, he went to Raja Bijay Singh High School and Sripat Singh College. According to Singh he "was a decent student, but cared more about music". His inclination towards music led his parents to decide on training him professionally. He was taught Indian classical music by Rajendra Prasad Hazari and trained in tabla by Dhirendra Prasad Hazari while Birendra Prasad Hazari taught him Rabindra Sangeet and pop music.
2005-09: Career beginnings:
In 2005, Singh auditioned for the reality show Fame Gurukul, insisted by Rajendra Prasad Hazari since he felt that "classical music was a dying tradition". Initially being hesitated of taking that chance, Singh joined the show since composer Shankar Mahadevan was included in the jury panel and he has a classical background and "astounding versatility". Though Singh lost the show to the finals, he entered another reality show, 10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil, which is a musical face-off between the winners of Fame Gurukul and Indian Idol. After winning the show, Singh built a recording setup of his own, beginning his journey with music programming. Subsequently, he went to become as an assistant music programmer to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar and Mithoon. During the time, Mahadevan convinced Singh to playback for a version of a song that he was composing but Singh refused, claiming that he wants a "popular" voice and ultimately Mahadevan dubbed the song with another singer.
2010-13: Early releases and Aashiqui 2:
In 2010, Singh started working with Pritam Chakraborty on three films--Golmaal 3, Crook and Action Replayy. During the time, he started singing scratches on Chakraborty's insistence. In 2011, Singh made his Bollywood music debut with the Mithoon-composition, "Phir Mohabbat" from Murder 2, which was recorded in 2009 though released in 2011. The same year, when he was programming the song "Raabta" from Agent Vinod (2012), Chakraborty wanted him to sing the classical arrangement in the song. The part was retained in the four versions of the song, and made him to sing the entire composition in one of the versions. Apart from Agent Vinod, Singh dubbed for Chakraborty in three other films released during the year; Players, Cocktail and Barfi!. He also lent his voice for Chirantan Bhatt in 1920: Evil Returns and for Vishal-Shekhar in Shanghai, where the song "Duaa" from the latter fetched him Mirchi Music Award for Upcoming Male Playback Singer award and was nominated in the same category for "Phir Le Aya Dil" from Barfi!.
Singh rose to widespread prominence with the release of the song "Tum Hi Ho" from Aashiqui 2 (2013). The song fetched him several awards and nominations including Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer. He worked with Jeet Gannguli for the rest of his tracks in the album. Gannguli was searching for a "fresh voice" for the film, when he stumbled upon Singh's "Duaa" on YouTube. Singh further allied with Chakraborty, singing "Dilliwaali Girlfriend", "Kabira" and "Ilahi" for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Other than rendering the encore version of "Kabira", he was associated as the music producer of the track along with "Balam Pichkari" from the same film. Singh considered the period as a "lean phase" which helped him in becoming a "better" musician. The duo collaborated with Shahid Kapoor, performing "Main Rang Sharbaton Ka" from Phata Poster Nikhla Hero and "Dhokha Dhadi" from R... Rajkumar. Moreover, he dubbed for Shah Rukh Khan in the song "Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari" from Chennai Express which was composed by Vishal-Shekhar. Apart from rendering the duet version of "Har Kisi Ko" from Boss along with Neeti Mohan, the year marks his collaboration with Sharib-Toshi and Sanjay Leela Bhansali by singing the song "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse" from Jackpot for the former and the semi-classical number, "Laal Ishq" from Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela for the latter. While Singh picked "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse" as one of his personal favorite songs, he chose "Tose Naina" from Mickey Virus as "closest to his heart".
In 2014, Singh got the chance to work with two of his favorite music directors, Sajid-Wajid and A. R. Rahman. He performed two tracks of Main Tera Hero and the song "Raat Bhar" from Heropanti for the former, and dubbed the Hindi version of the song "Medhuvaagathaan" from Kochadaiiyaan titled "Dil Chaspiya" for the latter. He rendered three re-mixed songs; Amit Trivedi's "Hungama Ho Gaya", Sharib-Toshi's "Samjhawan" and Arko Pravo Mukherjee's "Aaj Phir". Singh worked with Vishal Bhardwaj, recording two songs from Haider and with Sachin-Jigar for "Jaise Mera Tu" in Happy Ending. The year marks his collaboration with many other music directors including Tony Kakkar and Palash Muchhal. During the year, he provided vocals for Mithoon in "Humdard" and "Hai Dil Ye Mera", Vishal-Shekhar in "Manwa Laage", Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy in "Sajde", Sharib-Toshi in two songs of Zid and Pritam Chakraborty in three tracks of Holiday which was arranged by Singh himself. Gannguli-comoposed Muskurane garnered him most nominations in the year, while he received two Filmfare nominations for Suno Na Sangemarmar and the sufi song Mast Magan. Singh picked "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare"--originally sung by Mehdi Hassan and re-composed for Haider by Vishal Bhardwaj--as his most favorite track from the year.
In 2015, Singh made his Tamil debut with the song "Neeye Vaazhkai Enben" from the film Pugazh. He also provided vocals for the song "Sooraj Dooba Hain" from Roy, which was composed by Amaal Mallik, who wanted "a voice that does not sing many peppy numbers" for the track. Apart from dubbing the Hindi version of the song "Pookkalae Sattru Oyivedungal" from Rahman's I, along with Shreya Ghoshal, Singh teamed up with Gannguli and Bobby-Imran for Khamoshiyan, where he performed the title song of the film and "Baatein Ye Kabhi Na" for the former and "Tu Har Lamha" for the latter.
Vocals and musical style:
In an interview with The Times of India, Singh mentioned that he has a "natural voice" and when his voice breaks, it recovers automatically; "I don't do anything special to maintain my voice".Shekhar Ravjiani from the music director duo Vishal-Shekhar wrote that Singh's "vocal texture is brilliant. The way he emotes and the soul he puts into each song is exemplary".
While reviewing "Raabta", Prathna Tiwari from Bollywood Spice appraised the "refreshing and young voice" of Singh, and Mitesh Saraf of Planet Bollywood mentioned, how "emotionally and elegantly" he handles the high notes in the song "Duaa", while Atta Khan from the same publication found his semi-classical vocals in the ghazal "Phir Le Aya Dil" impressive. His another track from the same film--a soft lullaby song "Saawali Si Raat"--represented a "harmonious voice" of him. For the song "Tum Hi Ho", he sings in a "soulful, emotive base" vocals while "Milne Hai Mujhse Aayi" has a "rock avatar" attached to his vocals.
With the three tracks from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, critics applauded Singh for trying "different genres of songs". Bollywood Spice's Bodrul Chaudhury affirmed that Singh's "charismatic voice contributes vitally in keeping "Dilliwaali Girlfriend" alive from beginning to end". Further complimenting the Punjabi rendition of the song "Kabira", Chahudhary opined that his vocals are "less gripping" in "Ilahi" when compared to its reprise version by Mohit Chauhan. The semi-classical song, "Laal Ishq" showed Singh's "wide ranging vocals" while the Sufi romantic raga based "Tose Naina" showcased his "his husky and base macho vocals". Pointing out his rendition of the song, Rafat wrote; "Singh is masterly in his rendition as he conquers the high notes with ease and delves deep into emotions required from this sufiana number". He also stated that Singh's "base and almost inebriated vocals are a delight to savour" and are the highlight of "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse".
In 2014, Singh performed many romantic songs which includes "Suno Na Sangemarmar", "Khul Kabhi Toh", "Sawan Aaya Hai" and "Tu Hi Hai Aashiqui" which Bollywood Cine Talk believed that "Singh shines like a diamond in these types of romantic track". However, through the year he explores different musical style, including; a club party song "Raat Bhar", an electronic "Blame The Night", a Punjabi Folk "Samjhawan", a Sufi or Qawwali song "Mast Magan" and a ghazal titled "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare". Regarding the variety, Bollywood Life stated; "Arijit is known for giving soulful, romantic tracks and before people could typecast him in that genre, he ... proves his versatility in other genres".Glamsham mentioned that Singh's "emotive and zesty rendition is the highlight of "Palat - Tera Hero Idhar Hai", while Shweta Pandit who rendered the reprise version of "Tere Hoke Rahenge", felt it is Singh's "romantic voice and the energy of the beats", what builds his version.
Public image and influences:
During the early 2013, Singh appeared sporting a "long-haired and bearded look". He reasoned that he did not get time to "cut his hair or shave" when he is in Mumbai. In an interview with The Times of India, Singh described himself as "horrible looking" and that he do not "care about it".
I haven't cared about my image till date and I don't want to do anything about it. If you are doing shows you have to look good, not jazzy. It's just that I want to look as fresh as I can. I like jeans and shirts. I want to look like a musician more than a pop star.
Singh felt that his passion for singing is the biggest influence in the music career; "It's not like that I was influenced by anyone to enter the industry. I always dreamt of becoming a singer". Though he is being inspired by many artists, Singh named KK as his favorite singer along with Ayushmann Khurrana. He named Pritam Chakraborty, Vishal-Shekhar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Amit Trivedi, Mithoon and A. R. Rahman as his favorite music directors. Singh has idolized Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh and Mehdi Hassan. He stated that they are the ones who actually inspired him to sing ghazals and semi-classical songs. He also had shared his fondness for Kishore Kumar and Mohit Chauhan, for whom he is often compared to; "Chauhan is a great singer, a great musician and a big icon in India. Being compared to him makes me tremendously happy". He also expressed his desire to sing for Aamir Khan and work in a Salman Khan's production. Regarding the comparison made with Atif Aslam, Singh stated; "I respect Aslam as I do every individual musician and artist".
Singh has decided to turn director. He has decided to direct a film and the will be going to be produced by T-Series manager Bhushan Kumar.
According to Singh, apart from being a singer he is badminton player, a writer, a movie freak and a documentary maker. According to Forbes's Celebrity 100 list, released annually, Singh earned ₹350 million (US$5.6 million) in 2014. Despite the popularity, Singh does not give much interviews or get his photos clicked. In a concert at Emaar Boulder Hills, he stated; "If I want to eat fish, I want to be free to go and buy it myself in the market. I don't like these interviews and photos".
In September 2013, Singh was arrested for allegedly assaulting a journalist, Apurba Chowdhury, when Chowdhury asked him details about his divorce case. Reportedly, Singh was granted bail the following day. On 20 January 2014, Singh married his childhood friend, Koel Roy, in Tarapith temple, West Bengal. He confirmed the news by posting his wedding picture on a social networking site. Accordingly, it was his second marriage since he was previously married to one of his co-contestants from a reality show. Roy was also previously married and has a four-year-old daughter, when they got married.
Impact and recognition:
Singh's work has received praise from several artists. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan mentioned that he likes Singh's singing along with Ankit Tiwari's.Shreya Ghoshal remarked that he is "versatile and has a soulful voice". Composer Anu Malik noted Singh as one of his favorites among the "current lot of singers". Roopkumar Rathod also picked Singh as a singer he admires from the current music generations.Aditi Singh Sharma describing him as "today's king of romance" praised his recording skills;
Singh recording me had made it so much easier for me to sing the songs. I can't explain this in words, but whoever has recorded with him would know what I am talking about. He is a huge reason why I was able to sing songs with such ease. ... It's what helped me bring in the right attitude into the song.
Adel Farooq chose Singh as one of his current favorite singers, along with Sonu Nigam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan; "All of them are brilliant live performers and have a lot of soul in their voices".Kunal Ganjawala considered him as "a great gift to the industry".Richa Sharma mentioned that Singh is her favorite singer from the current lot; "He sings very well". One of his contemporaries, Mohammad Irfan Ali believes Singh "is one of the biggest singers in India right now and if people are comparing me with him, then I take it positively. I really appreciate his singing and love his work".
Norway's musician John Leo selected Singh as his favorite singer form "these days". Actor Suyyash Rai affirmed that he "developed an interest in singing" because of Atif Aslam and Singh. Singer Hariharan commented about Singh; "Today's youngsters have such creative minds and so many ideas that it's refreshing".Suresh Wadkar praised him as one of the "great singers of this generation".Atif Aslam, whose singing style is compared with that of Singh's, replied that he likes Singh's music and his compositions.
In a profile interview from Outlook, lyricist Swanand Kirkire declared that no one in recent times has seen such a "spell of success", and RJ Meera Damji from Radio Mirchi affirmed that every second song on their radio playlist is Arijit's. Music composer Krsna said; "He is involved, gives his inputs, visualises the song, works on how to sound different, stylises his voice if the melody is a bit weak".
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license