Mad about music

Hit maker

Mad about music

His sonorous voice has breathed life into several Bollywood hits. Srabanti Chakrabarti talks to the new singing sensation, Benny Dayal, about his climb up the music charts

He has been belting out hits in quick succession. The whole nation has been humming his songs. Yet, the bearded singer has stayed away from the spotlight and focused on delivering chartbusters like Aadat Se Majboor, Badtamiz Dil, Shudh Desi Romance and Disco Deewane.

The list this year is also equally impressive — Locha Ye Ulfat, Besharmi Ki Height, ABCD — all of these songs had Benny Dayal lending his lively voice.

Talk to him about all of this, and the shy singer will respond with a smile, “The song Badtamiz Dil, which I sang with Shefali Alviras, has been nominated for the International Global Sound Competition in Armenia. I am happy that after getting so much love from listeners, the song got nominated for international awards.”

Born to sing

Music is in Benny’s genes, as his mother Shyama Dayal is an established dancer. Benny was so influenced by his mother that he even started learning dance. “I was only four when I performed for the first time. I still remember it was a dance competition and I had performed a Michael Jackson number. That was the starting point.”

Benny was brought up in Abu Dhabi, where he performed throughout his school days. However, for his higher studies, the young singer returned to India and joined the Madras Christian College (MCC). “I joined MCC only because it was well-known for its culturals!” he says.

MCC did a lot of good to him and gave him the confidence — be it literary events, JAM or the performing arts. Benny wouldn’t think twice before signing up for competitions and he was also the cultural secretary in the college.

By this time, Benny realised that it was singing that he wanted to make a career in. Everything about singing fascinated him — lyrics, music and the actual singing.

He even got associated with music bands in MCC. His band was called S5. After his graduation, he enrolled for a diploma in journalism simply because he wanted to continue with the band.

Benny fondly shares an anecdote about his mentor. “Pravin Mani is like my godfather. He’s taught me everything about professional singing. Prior to that, my performances were limited to college festivals. He taught me a lot of the technical stuff like how one sings in a recording studio.

My first song was his composition for S5, the band launched by SS Music,” he says, adding, “One of the reasons why I returned to India was music. I wanted to make a career in music and what better place than India for that.”

But S5 was disbanded after its members moved on to different parts of the world. It was quite a sad moment for Benny because the band was formed in 2004 after a proper screening across five cities (Cochin, Coimbatore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore) in South. “We had some great moments while performing with the band. The band experience made me a better performer,” the singer explains.

Benny considers music maestro A R Rahman as his mentor in Bollywood. The singer has got innumerable hit songs from the music genius.

“A number of my hits from the films Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Delhi 6, Ghajini and Yuvraj were his compositions. He gave me these opportunities when no one else was ready to take me on. He came into my life at the right moment. After facing rejections from everywhere, I was on the verge of taking up a corporate job. And then he brought me back to what I liked doing. Apart from music, I have also learned humility from him,” says an emotional Benny.

Dream come true

After this came another big decision in Benny’s life — the movement from Chennai to Mumbai.

“It was a big risk for me. I was well established in Chennai and moving to Mumbai was not easy. But thankfully, I got a number of opportunities. I owe this to composer duo Salim-Sulaiman. They gave me songs like Aadat Se Majboor (Ladies Vs Ricky Behl) and Dum Mast (Band Baaja Baarat), taught me a lot and groomed me.”

What does he feel about the competition in the industry? Aren’t there too many singers today? “My whole idea of singing is not to outdo anyone.

I love to challenge myself. If I sing a song well today, tomorrow I want to sing a song better than my previous number. Nothing makes me feel better than creating music and writing a song that will entertain people,” he explains.

Benny is also someone who is immensely popular for his stage shows. The singer, who owns 132 hats, feels for a stage show one needs to have the correct grooming and also one has to be well-dressed. “I am influenced by R&B, Hip Hop artistes, and I somehow I feel there should be a strong connection between you and your listeners,” he adds.

Benny has also started singing for Bengali films and two of his numbers have done well in Kolkata (Rangbaaz and Game). Speaking about the switch, Benny says, “I can sing in five different languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Kanada. And when I got an offer from Jeet Ganguly for Bengali songs, I took it up because language has never been a barrier for me. No singer can be bigger than the song.”

So what next? Benny’s last release is a melodious romantic song from Akshay Kumar’s Holiday. “Let my songs speak for themselves! I don’t want to talk about my future.”

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