HYDERABAD: Best known for his songs such as Salaam Rocky Bhai, Dheera Dheera, Bullet La and more, Ritesh G Rao has known singing as a passion since he was in class 2. Here is an excerpt from the conversation we had with him about his musical journey and upcoming projects..
Ritesh G Rao, who has 2,91,946 monthly listeners on Spotify has rocked his audiences with songs like Salaam Rocky Bhai, Nuvve Nuvve, Dheera Dheera, and Bullet La. The talented singer started his journey when he was in class 2. Not only does he have a melodious voice but also a reflexive mindset, a quality he says fuses into one’s singing and performance. “An artiste is not just someone concerned with the technicalities of the art, but also lets the art make the person that he is,” said the singer.
His first break was when being a finalist in Junior Star Super Singer, after which he had the privilege and honour of working with AR Rahman on an album featuring Katrina Kaif. “She played the role of a teacher and we were the students,” he said. On being asked how was it to work with the legendary composer, he said that “he is the most humble person around.”
As one of the very lucky ones to start his journey at a young age, he has considerable years and significant experience of working on important projects such as KGF 1 and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. He has also been performing with playback singer and performer Neha Kakkar, holding concerts in various cities across the globe for the past two years now. We asked him what is the difference between singing in a movie and performing for a live audience. “Good question,” he replied and got nostalgic while answering it. “As a kid, I would think it is so cool to sing with your sunglasses on and everything. When it happened for me, it was a dream-come-true-moment. But I learned that there is so much more to playback singing than just that,” Ritesh said.
“When you sing in a studio, for a film, you are singing for the actor. You are the character at that time. As for the technical part, one has to be extremely precise and talented to be able to identify the minutest differences between notes. The condenser mics capture everything. While in a live performance, you swing with the vibe of the audience. Technicalities may not matter that much (although I am not saying it is a good thing) but it is important that the audience enjoys and you keep the energy running,” said Ritesh, underlying the dynamic differences between recorded and live performances.
As a singer prodigy, he was part of many reality shows and invariably had the chance of meeting some of the best artistes in the industry. “I met M M Keeravani sir on the sets of Super Singer. He told me that music is more than the singer. It is the only instrument that is played from the inside. A harmonium or a tabla is something you play from the outside. Singing, comes from the inside and is therefore connected with every speck of your being,” said Ritesh.
Calling his mother a ‘dreamer’, Rao says his parents’ cooperation, understanding and blessings allowed him to deal with the complexities of the field. “We need that power as their support makes the process so easy,” said Ritesh. Reminiscing how he got interested in music in the first place, the city-based singer said, “My mother used to watch MTV and every time this song Ab Mujhe Raat Din played, I would drop everything I would be doing and sit in front of the TV.” Then came the point when his parents recognised his talent. “There was a random competition happening once and my parents asked me casually to go on the stage and sing something. I went and started singing, Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare. Everyone was mesmerised. I loved singing that song. Then my parents realised that I have a knack for music,” said Rao.
He was trained in classical Hindustani music and learned to speak Telugu at Little Musicians Academy run by Ramachari Komanduri. He shot to fame with Super Singer 8, Indian Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Fever Idol and Rising Star. He said his upcoming projects include Bro, Skanda, and a few other projects. His concerts with Neha Kakkar are ongoing, the next one being in Canada in August.
He will also perform on a show called Nayi Umang, which is a dedication by various artistes to Kailash Kher on his birthday. When asked who are the people who helped him evolve as an artiste, he said it was difficult to pick names as it takes a whole village to make an artiste who he is. Yet, I would like to name Anurag Kulkarni and Sri Krishna, “who helped me a lot for Vikram.” The singer looks up to Arijit Singh and Mohit Chauhan and likes to listen to soothing and calming music, where he transforms into “just a listener, nothing else.”