Congrats on the big win, How does it feel that a song sung by you has won the ‘Golden Globe Award’ under the category of ‘Best Original Song’?
It feels great which I can’t even express and I want to thank MM. Keeravani garu and Rajamouli garu who trusted in me and made me sing ‘Naatu Naatu’ in four different languages.
When did you get the news that your song has won the Golden Globe? Where were you at that moment?
I got to know after a National News Channel called me for my reaction, before that we only knew that our song got nominated for a prestigious award. I was working out in a Gym at the time, I was surprised with the great news, immediately messaged Keeravani sir on his WhatsApp. I thanked him for taking my name on such a prestigious platform. Also, Rajamouli Sir for taking Indian films to the world stage. It feels very happy for me to be part of the film.
Are you the first choice for this song, did the makers consider someone before you and then it came to you?
I was the first choice for the song.. In fact, after listening to the Telugu version, MM Keervani sir made me sing all the other language versions except the Malayalam one.
How was the coordination of your co-singers such as Keeravani’s son Kaala Bhairava’s, Yasin Nizar’s while making this song?
All of them supported me a lot, I want to thank Kaala Bhairava as well for supporting me while singing in all the other languages and all the others that are associated with it, be it the lyrics writer Chandrabose garu, musicians and director SS. Rajamouli garu and its makers for taking the Indian film onto the world stage.
What was the reaction of your fellow singers from Tollywood post your song won the Golden Globe and got nominated for the Oscars?
Not just my colleagues, several people have congratulated me including the world’s powerful Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi garu, actress Priyanka Chopra has tagged and tweeted me a couple of times so far. All of these look surreal to me. Our Megastar Chiranjeevi congratulated, and Pawan Kalyan garu also tweeted about it. Several politicians have congratulated me so far.
How tough a master was Mr Keeravani while composing a song, did they take you for a ride or they just get convinced with your style of singing soon?
It’s nothing like he is a tough master or something, but they’ll look for the quality in the voice if it suits the character, situation and mood. All they’ll look for is the style of singing, if it will match their scene and film. Moreover this song didn’t got okayed overnight, there were 18 months of hard work behind it. It has went through a lot of tune and style changes.
Are you familiar with all the above languages that you have sung the ‘Naatu Naatu’ in and which of the above language versions have you felt was tougher to sing?
No, I’m not very familiar with all of them, but i’ll write them in English, know their meaning and then try to sing in that lingo and style. There were several corrections in the lyrics. I used to go and sing whenever there is a newer version. Honestly, none of the above language versions was tougher. But Tamil words were a little difficult, Hindi is easy as I’m from Hyderabad, and Kannada is a little similar to Telugu, therefore if all I had to say was a little tougher it is the Tamil version.
Though singing for star actors is not new for you, two of the young Telugu superstars have danced to your song and how excited were you to croon it?
I was very nervous when I got to know that Jr.NTR and Ram Charan are going to dance to it. But I took it as a challenge and worked with commitment to finalize my track before it goes to others. Half of it was recorded at the aluminium factory in Hyderabad.
How did your family members react to this achievement?
They all became very emotional and went speechless. And now they are waiting for yet another big announcement with the Oscars approaching, as ‘RRR’ has been short-listed already and has been trending since then.
Whom do you think should get the main credit for the song?; Is it the lyric writer, musician, singer, film director, choreographer or the stars who performed it?
First of all, I don’t divide it like that, it’s a team effort and the main credit should be given to MM. Keeravani sir for sure then it goes to Rajamouli sir for accepting our song or what we have produced for his film’s situation. All the others were just part of it and it’s a collaboration of all of us. Also, we should thank them for taking it to the USA and promoting it there like never before.
How will you sum up your music journey so far in Tollywood?
I’m a hairstylist and belongs to a Barber family from the Old City (Dhoolpet) of Hyderabad, everyone knows where I come from and what my journey is like and all that I have gone through to reach this place. If I talk about music in my place they’ll look strangely at me and in my place even today. Therefore travelling from a Barbers colony to Film Nagar is like going from one planet to the other with lots of differences, behaviors and attitude. I have made independent music videos, then I won the reality show Big Boss Telugu and then became a successful playback singer.
Do you have any formal music training from a young age?
I was a Ghazal singer basically, I have learnt singing Ghazals from Pandit Vital Rao garu, my guru. From there, I slowly ventured into playback singing, I was influenced by the singing of Shankar Mahadevan, Hari Haran, Ghulam Ali Khan and several others.
I feel great that my song got this award, I haven’t received any award so far in my life. Irrespective of singing many hit songs. But I used to go by the saying, “Bhagawan deta hai toh Thappad phaad ke deta hai’ and that is what has happened today. This is the first award of my life and I’m eagerly waiting for ‘Naatu Naatu’ to get nominated at the Oscars as well, let’s hope for the best.
Who are your favourite singers, and whose singing do you admire in Telugu and also in other languages?
There is a big list of singers, starting with Shankar Mahadevan garu, Hari Haran sir, Ustaad Ghulam Ali Saab, Pakistani Gazhal Singers, and My Guru Shri Pandit Vittal Rao garu. I love Keeravani sir’s music. Also, I have been working for about 11 years with Keeravani sir now. I improved my maturity levels on everything in the Keeravani sir’s compound, I joined him when I was 21 years old. All these singing abilities I have imbibed from him, You can learn a lot from him as a person also. Therefore, I would like to thank him for all that he has done for me.
If not you, whom do you think would have done justice to this song?
I don’t know who will suit but, I feel my voice and style of singing was the aptest for it and I utilized the golden opportunity that knocked on my door, which is why Keeravani garu has made it sing with me not just in one language but also in other languages, if it wasn’t good, he wouldn’t be risking his multi-million project with me. I have sung the song thinking of it as my own. It is not that the makers didn’t have the budget for bigger singers or something. They could have gone to any bigger singer for the project they had in hand.
If you have to remake an Indian song apart Telugu, which song would you pick to remake it in Telugu?
I never thought about this so far, but I think several golden hits deserve remix versions in every language, still I will say only about Telugu because I haven’t explored much about other Industries. Instead of me doing other language songs here, I would love to remix Telugu songs into other languages such as Hindi, am sure they’ll rock too based on the current trend.
You have made some of the great Telugu music videos that got millions of youtube views, but all of a sudden you stopped making them. Why so?
I didn’t stop them, you know it was covid for 2 years post that I was busy with some of my film projects. Now, im shooting a music video in Dubai in four languages as a Pan-India song and it was written by various lyricists in each language such as Gaana Baala garu in Tamil, ‘Kaala Chashma’ and ‘Mai Tera Boyfriend’ lyric writer is writing the Hindi version of the song so it will get released in March this year in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi languages. Still, I have lots of ideas for more music videos.
What are your upcoming projects?
There are lots of songs, but to be honest I’m not supposed to speak/reveal about them to the media before their release. We only have the right to speak post their release. Because sometimes several singers will sing the same track and musicians will take the best version of it, therefore our version may not be out. But I can say I have sung for several of the big upcoming films in Tollywood.