Since then, Suraj's career has exploded. As rock songs proliferated Bollywood soundtracks, Suraj (along with this other guy we talked about a while ago) sang song after song. A lot of them were flagship compositions. More work followed. An entire generation of fans discovered Suraj's raspy voice and ferocious growl.
Then last year, a little song called Give Me Some Sunshine remapped Suraj's career. Handpicked, against type, by composer Shantanu Moitra to sing the lilting melody - Suraj sang something he hadn't before for films. The movie was 3 Idiots, India's biggest hit since Gadar and possibly India's biggest international hit.
"Give Me Some Sunshine" got heavy airplay and became an instant favorite. Suraj was nominated for and won the Stardust award for best male performance in a song beating out the likes of Masakali, I mean Mohit Chauhan. He dedicated the song to 'all those people who thought I was an idiot to start singing in the first place".
I decided it was time to check in on Suraj and catch up.
AspisDrift.com: Suraj, you've been singing gangbusters in films since Rock On!! What changed? Was it the extra visibility for you? Was it the need of the hour? Did you start attending every party in town?
Suraj: There wasn't much visibility for me after Rock on and no, I did not attend every party in town!
What has happened is that after Rock On!!, rock as a genre, got firmly established in the Hindi film scene. Singers like me have greatly benefited from this, as rock is now accepted in the Bollywood scene. Also nowadays voices are being ‘cast’ for songs. The old formula of just taking popular voices and fitting them into a song is changing - which is great for me and other new voices.
AspisDrift.com: Which songs are you are proudest of?
Suraj: Zehreelay for sure cos I think it’s the first hard rock song in a Hindi film. I’m glad that I was part of the composition as well [in the movie].
AspisDrift.com: Which song are you most thankful for?
Suraj: Give Me Some Sunshine! This song has definitely given me a lot of sunshine!
AspisDrift.com: You've locked down the rock song genre in Bollywood. Does anyone ever offered you anything different - like say a sappy romantic song?
Suraj: I recently recorded a romantic song for a very famous music director. He took it up as a challenge to make me sing like that...hahahaha!
AspisDrift.com: I heard Shantanu Moitra wrote "Give me some sunshine" with you in mind. True?
Suraj: We were doing a radio interview together where he mentioned that if for some reason my voice was not approved by the film makers he would’ve changed the composition. I was blown when I heard that, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
AspisDrift.com: You won the 'New Musical Sensation - Male' at the Stardust awards this year. You really had a go at your critics in that speech. Was there a time when you doubted yourself and thought about a call center job?
Suraj: Ever since I started singing I’ve heard from some members of the family and so called well wishers make comments like “you are a failure, loser: etc. So this was just my way of saying - 'In your face, motherfuckers!'
And no I have never ever thought of doing anything other than sing…even in the most darkest of times.
AspisDrift.com: What is it with these awards? Do you know you are going to win before the show or is it like a total surprise?
Suraj: I didn’t even know I was nominated till someone saw it in the magazine. So ya it was a total surprise, and actually winning it was the biggest surprise!!
AspisDrift.com: Speaking of shows, will we ever see you on a music reality competition show like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa or Indian Idol? I'd love to see what would happen if say Anu Malik or Himesh Reshammiya tried to mess with you.
Suraj: I’ll cross that bridge when I get there..
AspisDrift.com: Suraj, last time I interviewed you I remember you kept your answers short and concise. So this time I'm going to have you do one better and describe each music composer you've worked with in ONE word. Ready?
Suraj: Vishal-Shekhar: Brilliant
Shantanu Moitra: Sharp
Shankar Ehsaan Loy: Harmony
Gourov Dasgupta: Guitar God
AspisDrift.com: Final question, guess what my favorite Suraj Jagan song is these days?
Suraj: Rang De? [from My Name is Khan]
AspisDrift.com: Nope, actually its the title track for Karthik Calling Karthik. Its hard to steal a song from Shankar Mahadevan, but that is what just happened on that track.
Suraj's Bollywood Discography
- Title track from Karthik Calling Karthik (2010)
- Rang de from My Name Is Khan (2010)
- Maula from Hide & Seek (2010)
- Give Me Some Sunshine from 3 Idiots (2009)
- Dil Kare from All the Best (2009)
- Chalte Chalo from Toss (2009)
- Saanson Ka Rukna, Humse Jo Churaiye Humko Hee, Kya Hua Hoo Hoo, Love Love Love and Run Run Run (2009) from Straight
- Sooni Raah Pe from Stoneman Murders (2009)
- Zehreelay from Rock On!! (2008)
- Hijack Theme from Hijack (2008)
- Missing Sunday from Sunday (2008)
- I am a Bad Boy from Bhram (2008)
- Yeh Faasle (remix) from Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama (2008)
- No Big Deal from Money Hai Toh Honey Hai (2008)
- Zindagi (not released) from Brides Wanted (2007)
- Hey Johnny from Johnny Gaddaar (2007)
- Dum Lagaa from Dil Dosti Etc (2007)