Brijesh Shandilya has carved a niche for himself in Bollywood with his unique voice and his struggle of a small town boy making it big in the industry is inspiring. Brijesh, who hails from Basti district in UP, started his career as a participant in the reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa (albeit there were other small-time ventures) but it took Banno Tera Swagger from Tanu Weds Manu Returns to propel him into the limelight.
Much like Banno, Brijesh has stamped his signature voice in Tollywood with the title track of the Allu Arjun in Sarrainodu. He is all set to give background artists in Tollywood a run for their money due to a unique skill he possesses. His family is typically involved in agriculture. He was naturally attracted to singing due to his mother, who used to croon during aartis and festivals. Soon enough, he garnered every opportunity to lend his voice at small events before he decided to make a career out of it. However a typical Brahmin family was cynical over his choice. When an adamant Brijesh decided to travel to Mumbai to pursue music, his father had only one thing to say, ‘You are free to do whatever you want to but I won’t support you.’“This hurt me a lot but in the end my uncle helped meout,” he recalls.
Making it to the big city
“My plan in Mumbai was to knock on the doors of composers and grasp an opportunity to sing in movies. But this was not fruitful. At that time, my neighbour who was a small-time actor, suggested to try my luck in reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. I did make it to the top 12 and lost. I think the reason was because I was from a small town and I was overwhelmed by the celebrity judges and the limelight. That nervousness took a toll on me but in a couple of months I motivated myself to get back on track,” shares Brijesh.
Life in Bollywood
“I used to do lot of demo songs where I was asked to sing hit numbers. People used to compare my voice to the original singer and I didn’t like that. This is when I decided that if I had to establish myself in this field, I need to stand out. That determination landed my first project Hooriyan from the movie Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.”
Post this, Brijesh sang numbers like Saddi Hobby Jhappiyan Paani from What The Fish, Mast Kalandar from Sahi Dhande Galat Bande and Heer from Hostel and the title song of Jai Ho.
The Big Break: Banno
“I had done some demos with composer duo Tanishk and Vayu and Banno was also part of it. When Tanu Weds Manu Returns director, Anand L Rai heard the demo, he instantly liked it and I was asked to sing that song in my rustic tone,” shares the singer.
The rest as they say is history. “All my songs that I had sung before were on one side and Banno was on the other. I struck gold with it,” laughs Brijesh. Post the success of Banno, the youngster has tasted success with another hit number Mera Nachan Nu from Airlift.
Tryst with Tollywood
“It was five to six years ago that movie channels started to dub South Indian flicks into Hindi. That was the time I was called in to sing the Hindi version of the songs. You won’t believe, they used to just pay `500 per song! I used to visit small dubbing studios in Mumbai which didn’t even have proper equipment. I used to sing with a dubbing mic and one earphone. It kind of felt awkward that I used to sing songs in Hindi where the original versions were by legends like Yesudas, Hariharan, etc. At one point I used to sing three to four songs for a film in one go in a small time frame. It was then that people used to tell me, agar yeh proper studio mein gaata toh kitna aacha hota. That’s when I started thinking of Tollywood.”
‘Auditions’ for Sarrainodu
“I had developed my contacts through these dubbings and that is when I met music director Thaman. He asked me to sing the title track of Sarrainodu and the recording was completed in just 40 minutes. Thaman was shocked and he asked me, “Brijesh! Anything wrong with Tollywood? Just 40 minutes for a song?” laughs Brijesh. The song is a mass number and undoubtedly will be paisa-vasool for Allu Arjun’s fans.
A dash of Brijesh
It is always a challenge for artists to understand a new language, the pronunciations and emote the same through the song. Many artists, who are not familiar with the southern languages, painstakingly make an effort to understand the lyrics of the song but Brijesh has mastered an interesting way to sing south Indian songs.
“What I do when I am in South India is to try and catch the rhythm of how people talk and try and incorporate the same in the song I am offered. Even if it is a semi-classical number, I try and sing the song with my own twists to fit in that feeling and that’s something which is working for me,” shares the talented youngster.