Nikita Wadhawan in conversation with Arjun Kanungo on his viral debut song, new romantic single and his crazy fan following.
Singer Arjun Kanungo has had a meteoric rise to fame ever since his debut single ‘Baaki Baatein Peene Baad’ went viral across the internet. Since then, he has added several more chartbusters like ‘Go Goa Gone’, ‘Mai’, ‘Pizza’ and ‘Remo’ to his kitty. But apart from his music the singer is also very vocal about issues pertaining to the music industry and singers in Bollywood.
‘Baaki Baatein’ made you an instant hit in the industry. Did you expect the song to be this big a hit?
I believed in the song, but I had no idea that it would go on to being so popular. Back then, I was just hoping it would get to a million views and I told myself that if that happens, I would be very happy. I’m grateful for the success it received. Especially since it was my debut.
How did you get in touch with Badshah and convince him to lend his voice and rap for the song?
I have been a Badshah fan since Bandook and it meant a lot to me that he decided to be a part of the song. We both were on the same label so I could approach him. I emailed him asking him if he would like to be part of the song. He replied saying he needs a few days to get back. And he did get back, but not with yes or no but with the rap! He dubbed the rap and slapped it onto the track. I loved it and didn’t change even a little bit.
Now you have come up with a new single, a romantic soft number which is so different from Baaki Baatein. Was it a conscious decision?
I don’t think Ek Dafaa is a soft number. It’s a love song yes but after my second single ‘Fursat’ which was a romantic number, I wanted to make something different and high energy. Last November, I had the idea of using the sample of ‘Chinamma Chillakama’ on a track and we asked A.R.Rahman sir for permission and he gave it to us. Ek Dafaa is a high energy love song which is essentially a mix of my first and second single.
You have over 2.5 lakh followers on Facebook and a history of crazy female fan following, with some even etching his name on their arms. What is the most crazy fan moment you have encountered yet?
Honestly I can’t believe the love my listeners give me sometimes. There are a few incidents that come to mind but recently, I did a concert in Indore and one of the girls in the audience had driven all the way from Ahmedabad to come see it. It floored me. I made sure I met her and gave her a hug. Will never get used to this kind of attention though.
You had setup your studio at a young age of 18, something that singer take years to do. How did you manage that?
I was in college at the time. I would wake up around 7 am for college and then head over to the studio at around 1 pm every day. It was hard work, and I would be in the studio until almost midnight every night. But I think I managed because of the intense support I got from my family. I took a loan from my mum but more than the money, I think it was the fact that she believed in me so strongly and she never hesitated in supporting me. There were challenges, but I made the studio a profitable business and I’m starting another one right now in another location, my third.
You also had a problem with Bollywood actors starring in music video’s why?
I have a problem with singers being under represented in their music videos, not actors starring in them and I don’t think people should confuse the two as being the same.
Let me be clearer: I think that, in Pop music, singers should feature in the music videos of their own songs. Only in Pop music. Pop music is the part of the music industry that has nothing to do with Bollywood. It has its own unique identity and unique sound. In this country, musicians and singers are not given enough face time as the predominant music industry is Bollywood and the limelight falls on the actors. It is also the reason, I chose to focus on pop music.
I do not have a problem with actors lip syncing to songs in a film. I have nothing but love for Bollywood as an industry. My problem lies with the music labels that are releasing independent music with music videos that don’t showcase the singer at all just so that they can get more press and exposure. This almost never happens anywhere else in the world. We need labels who will invest in musical artists and not just hit songs. We desperately need a music industry that is separate from Bollywood so that we can have music which is more diverse, honest and one which promotes a genuine culture of music.
What about actors who have started singing songs for their movies, recent example Parineeti Chopra. Do you have a problem with that as well?
(Laughs) I have no problem with anything actors do in films. At the end of the day, whatever the producers decide is best for the film is best for the film. I think Parineeti is a good singer and a lovely person as well.
Last year you approached by Bigg Boss but you refused, if they approach you again will you accept since it has a huge exposure?
Probably not. Bigg Boss is a massive responsibility. We have projects lined up for the whole year and I don’t think I would be able to commit as much time to it.
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