What happens to talented singers when they drop out of the race early on one of Indian TV's premier singing competitions?
When Bhavin Dhanak started last year's Indian Idol 3 in the Piano Round, he instantly went to the top of the class. And it was easy to see why: he had rugged good looks, a playback ready voice and a standout ability to stay in sur.
Yet Bhavin was one of the first to fall victim to audience voting. Horrified at this, the judges quickly brought him back via wild card. But Bhavin could never gather enough SMS support, making his final bow from the show before the Gala Round kicked in.
Its been over a year since Bhavin has been working to make it in Bollywood. I've kept tabs on his career: he's always extremely amiable and forthright and I am very happy to have him share his story with everyone on the Drift.
AspisDrift.com: Hi Bhavin, it's been a while since we heard your voice widely but it was good hearing you on Ek Rupaiya from Krazzy 4. Tell us a little bit about how you ended up singing on that song.
Bhavin: Hi Aspi, I know its been quite sometime now, I was restless too. Well Ek Rupaiya happened quite easily actually. I didn’t expect it to be that simple.
I had my voice recorded on a CD, I sent that CD to Rajesh Roshan through a friend who works for him. He heard it, called me for a rehearsal, and that’s it. A week after that I recorded the song.
It was a very overwhelming experience, when I was in the recording room, about to start the recording, Rakesh Roshan entered the monitor room to join Rajesh Roshan, along with Javed Akhtar. I was so nervous, shivering. But I was comfortable when I was okayed on the first take itself, and I heard Rakesh Roshan praising me in front of Javed Saab, who by the way already knew me because of II3. After that it was a cakewalk.
AspisDrift.com: It’s been over a year since Indian Idol. How did you end up on the show to begin with?
Bhavin: Well Indian Idol was something that always fascinated me. I had seen people’s life change in just 6 months being on the show. I had auditioned for Indian Idol 2 also, but didn’t get through. But after that I had decided there’s no looking back now. I trained hard for almost a year, and auditioned in II3, and got through all the audition rounds and reached the Piano rounds.
AspisDrift.com: Tell us a little bit about the process of singing on Indian Idol. How do the songs get selected? How do you get ready for the performance?
Bhavin: Well the song selection is done by a music manager appointed by Sony. Basically the participants have to write down, on a piece of paper, a list of songs they are very good with, and give them to the music manager. The music manager (who has by now heard all participants so she knows who sings what) then decides which song will suit who.
I was pretty lucky with my song selections coz I got exactly what I had asked for. That’s probably because I knew exactly what genre I was good at and what genre I was not.
AspisDrift.com: After the first few weeks, who did you think were the most likely to win the show?
Bhavin: Honestly I was pretty sure some people were definitely reaching the top 10, Emon, Chang, Pooja, Deepali, Amit, Prashant were few whom I had expected, and they did. I also expected Shantanu, Padmanav, Harshida, Aisha and of course myself to be in the top 10 too, but that didn’t happen.
AspisDrift.com: What was the biggest thing you learned on the show that you used after you left it?
Bhavin: On the show I think, up till my first performance, I was competing with the other, but after my first performance went off really well, I got some very positive comments from the judges and my co-contestants, after that the competion was with myself, I wanted to sing better than my first performance, and better in the next.
In this whole process of competing with my own performances, I realized where I stood in terms of singing caliber and potential. I knew what my flaws were, and what my good points were, and after my elimination, I worked extensively on my flaws, and polished my good points. Also, I think I took home a lot of self confidence.
When I perform today, it’s a totally different Bhavin Dhanak than before. I am never nervous, never jittery, I always enjoy myself when I perform, and for all that, all the credit goes to my experience on the show.
AspisDrift.com: Any special incidents or moments that you remember from Indian Idol?
Bhavin: A lot of things happened when I was a part of the show, and fortunately everything good.
One special incident I remember was between Amit Paul and me, when both of us were in the wild card, and waiting for our results, which was the next day, I remember the piano rounds and the Galas, both happened in the RK studios, but there were different sets, so when we were in the wild card round, just round the corner from our sets, the gala sets were being readied, and Amit and me would go there almost everyday and imagine ourselves on that stage.
I remember once when Amit had tears in his eyes and he asked me, “yaar bhavin mein is stage pe perform karunga na yaar?” and I had told him “of course tu perform karega.” And look where he is today.
Amit, Prashant, Shantanu, Roshan and me were the best of friends on the show, and are very close even now.
AspisDrift.com: If you could turn the clock back, would you do anything on Idol differently?
Bhavin: Well, if I could turn the clock back, I would not even think of changing anything in the way I sang at the show, but yes I think I would definitely change the way I was on camera during the time we stayed at the hotel.
I was quite reserved, and camera shy. I couldn’t really do anything except sing, I never tried to mimic, or say anything funny, or got into a controversy, so I was never given enough footage, and maybe that’s the reason I didn’t get any votes, because the people watching the show, saw me singing straightaway in the piano rounds, I didn’t connect with anyone.
I think if I would’ve changed the way I spoke in front of the camera, I would make sure all the attention was on me, all the time.
AspisDrift.com: Who do you like more as a singer from the final two: Amit Paul or Prashant Tamang?
Bhavin: As a singer I would have to say Amit Paul, Prashant is still raw and untrained. Though even Amit has not had any formal training, but he had been singing professionally even before Indian idol, so he had his practice I guess.
AspisDrift.com: Ok, so once you left Indian Idol, did Sony or the people at Indian Idol help with your career?
Bhavin: Well that’s something that I was disappointed with. I didn’t really get any support from the channel, I had to struggle, I had to meet people everyday with my demo and show reel, and look for work. And I finally got work and proved my metal, so I kept getting work without the help of the channel.
But yes, I would definitely not deny the fact that one of the reasons I got work was because I was a part of Indian Idol 3, I was seen on TV that’s why people know me today, and I am really grateful to Indian Idol for that.
AspisDrift.com: What was your early struggle after Idol like? How did you get started with doing shows?
Bhavin: Well as I said earlier, it was not very easy to get work, in the start, there were lots of reasons, one being that it was not the shows season at that time. So it was a very frustrating period, because I had got out early from the show, and was at home for almost a month without any work.
But during that time, I met a lot of people, who could give me potential shows, and finally I started getting shows. I was not doing as good as maybe Amit Paul, Emon or Prashant, but I was doing work that I was happy with.
AspisDrift.com: Have you been interested in doing any of the music Reality TV shows?
Bhavin: I was very keen on Saregamapa before I got through Indian Idol. Because that’s what gave me the push I needed. But at that time, I didn’t think I was good enough for it. I think the standard of singers on SaReGaMa is higher than any other reality show.
AspisDrift.com: Your break in Krazzy 4 came via a demo tape. What is on that demo tape? How was it recorded?
Bhavin: On my demo, I’ve got three songs. One’s Aatif Aslam’s “Aadat”, the other one’s Euphoria’s “Mayeri”, and then there’s Shaan’s “Musu musu hasi”. I got the minus one tracks (only music, without vocals) for these songs, hired a friend’s studio, and recorded the songs.
AspisDrift.com: What are your strengths as a singer? What type of songs do you think you would excel at?
Bhavin: As a singer I think my strengths are my voice, my ability to sing Western as well as Indian classical songs, and my grasping power, that helps me learn a new tune by listening to it just once, which is very important for playback singing in today’s time. I think I would really excel at soft romantic love songs, as well as the peppy numbers.
I really wish if I get a sad song to sing though, I think a good sad song is an instant hit, look at Aadat, Tadap Tadap Ke, etc.
AspisDrift.com: Could you name three recent songs that you absolutely loved and said to yourself: "I wish I could have sung those?"
Bhavin: I think the most recent one is Kehne ko Jashn e Bahara from Jodha Akbar, sung beautifully by Javed Ali, Kabhi Kabhi Aditi from Jaane tu sung by Rashid, and Rubaroo from RDB, sung by Naresh Iyer. I also wish I could’ve got to sing Maa from Taare Zameen Par.
AspisDrift.com: Who do you think are the hottest music directors in the business right now - those that all up and coming singers want to sing for (apart from A. R. Rahman of course)?
Bhavin: Well I think the new breed of music directors that have come in the market are all brilliant. Be it Pritam, Vishal n Shekhar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Monty Sharma, Anand Raj Anand, and of course Shankar Ehsaan Loy.
Apart from them, there are also some new people out there who have proved their talent, like Mithoon, whose given music in films like Anwar, The Train, Bas ek Pal, etc. then there’s Amit Trivedi, who gave music in the brilliant movie Aamir.
I can personally recommend Amit Trivedi, and I am so sure this guy is going a long, long way, I can say this because I have worked with him, and he is a powerhouse of talent.
AspisDrift.com: Finally, any advice for aspiring singers who want to make it in Indian music?
Bhavin: Well I think I am too small to be giving advice to aspiring singers, because I am still an aspiring singer myself, waiting for that big break. But whatever I’ve learnt through my experience is, while being a good singer is most important; it is also important how you are as a person.
I think you should never let fame and money get into your head, coz the faster it gets to your head, the faster you are going to hit the ground. I take Shaan and AR Rehman, as examples. They have achieved so much in life, they have made their presence felt world over, yet they are the most humble and down to earth people I’ve ever met.