A voice to impress

On a high

A voice to impress

Playback singer-songwriter Jubin Nautiyal is rocking the music charts with his versatile renditions. His latest is a haunting song from the Salman Khan-starrer Tubelight, which has just released. “Working with Pritamda is always special for me,” he says. “‘Tinka Tinka Dil Mera’ is a sad song about pain and longing. The song, about fraternal love, affected me while I sang it, owing to its emotional intensity. I cried at places,” he confesses, confident that the number will move viewers to tears when they see the movie.

What has been his biggest blessing? “I count being brought up in Dehradun as one of my biggest blessings,” he says. “The culture, the schooling (at Welham Boys School) and the warm, long-lasting guru-shishya relationship...everything worked in tandem to make my early years special,” says the vocalist, who has clinched the ‘Upcoming Male Vocalist of the Year’ at Mirchi Music Awards 2016 for his song ‘Zindagi Kuch Toh Bata (reprise)’ from Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Musical beginnings

Jubin was virtually brought up on a diet of music. His father, a successful politician, is a big fan of late singer Mohammed Rafi. “So, Rafi songs played in the mornings, and Kishoreda’s music filled our home in the evenings,” he shares. “That’s how I developed an ear for music, and before I knew it, I learned how to play instruments like the guitar, drums, piano and harmonium by myself. I am learning to play the Egyptian flute now.”

For the Jaunsar-born singer, the journey from Dehradun to Benaras to Chennai to Mumbai has been long and rewarding. Being the only child of two working parents (his mother is a successful businesswoman), Jubin was given full freedom to pursue his dreams and never faced any pressure to conform to traditional career choices. He pursued his interest in Hindustani classical music and continued to train under his school teacher. For four years subsequently, he was polishing his art while jamming with myriad artistes, learning light classical music from Channulal Mishra in Benaras and dabbling in western music in Chennai with famed guitarist Prasanna. “It was a very different connection: personal, warm, unlike the commercial flavour in Mumbai,” he confesses.

Then his first song ‘Ek Mulaqat’ (from the film Sonali Cable) happened. It skyrocketed him into the applause league. “I was not very convinced that it was my song, but the music directors convinced me,” recalls Jubin. He has sung 35 songs since, most of them hauntingly beautiful like ‘Meherbani’ from The Shaukeens; ‘Bandeyaa’ for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s comeback film Jazbaa; ‘Samandar Main’ from the movie Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon. “I am working with the leading music composers on my wish list. Sometimes, it feels absolutely surreal. Recording with Pritamda one day and with Vishal-Shekhar the next,” he enthuses. “I couldn’t have asked for more in life.”

It has certainly been an enriching career trajectory for Jubin, coming from a backward village in the recesses of Garhwal to scaling superb heights in Bollywood’s music kingdom. “I strongly believe that talent succeeds. Playback singing has brought me widespread appreciation and fame. A film song brings with it an instant connect with 30-odd lakh people, whereas a show might bring just 20,000 or so. The reach is simply unbeatable, beyond comparison. But for me, every song is a vital turning point. Each time, I am competing with my previous song, in a different voice. That keeps my creative zeal going,” Jubin explains.

For the love of singing

His biggest challenge lies in singing in Bengali and Telugu. “As I do not speak these languages, it was a bit daunting to record songs initially,” he explains. “I need to understand, absorb and live with the song for a few days before I record it. This helps me to emote better. I always think of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as the ultimate in emotive renditions. The range, depth and magic he brought into his singing was perfect.”

Any fetish? “Call it my eccentricity, but each time I step into the recording studio, I close my eyes and thank my kul devta before I begin singing,” he confesses. “As for riyaaz, I sing when I get up till the time I nod off at about 3 or 4 am (My parents simply freak out when they visit me in Mumbai and see me working such crazy hours!). But for me, this is the pace of life now. I am simply married to music and work hard to beat myself. I feel lucky to be a part of the film industry and I firmly believe that good work speaks for itself.”

At present, Jubin is racing against time to release a couple of videos next month and has also just wrapped up his songs for upcoming mainstream 
Bollywood releases such as Machine. He is, of course, basking in the success of his recent chartbusters ‘Humma Humma’ from OK Jaanu and ‘Kisi Se Pyar Ho Jaye’ from Kaabil. “But my evergreen song remains ‘Sanu Ek Pal Chain’,” he signs off with a smile, getting back to work.

Keep crooning, we say!

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