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Interviews |  25 Aug 2018 20:55 |  By Minal Metkari

Anu Malik told me to behave like a winner: Bholepan singer Rakesh Maini

MUMBAI: Indian Idol has given renowned singers to the country like Neha Kakkar, Monali Thakur etc. One such talented singer is Rakesh Maini, who shot to fame after Indian Idol Season 5 in 2010. He has not looked back since then. From his debut single, Ankha Billori to singing Maaye Ni Meriye for Binnu Dhillon's Punjabi movie, Bailaras, Maini has come a long way. And his new Punajabi song happens to be Bholepan, which has garnered over 1.2 million views on YouTube and has become a chartbuster in Punjab.

In an exclusive interview with Radioandmusic, Rakesh Maini talks about Bholepan and its foreseen unplugged version; Indian Idol, Anu Malik, independent music and more.

Can you tell us about your new Punjabi song, Bholepan?

Bholepan is a song from the Punjabi movie Ashke,starring Amrinder Gill, who is the Aamir Khan of Punjabi film industry. Featured on him, the song is a romantic number, having wonderful lyrics. The music composition has been done by Jatinder Shah, a renowned music director from the Punjabi film industry. This is my second song with him. The song has received a very good response and has become a superhit in Punjab as well as overseas.

We have learnt that an unplugged version of the song is in the pipeline. What led you guys to come up with an unplugged version of Bholepan? 

The way people are appreciating the song, led us to think about making its unplugged version. We are still in talks, but will be working on it soon.

Can you spill beans about your work so far?

My first song was for a Punjabi movie Bailaras, starring Binnu Dhillon. It was a folk song Mayani Meriye, which is very in Punjab. After this, I did my first single Ankha Billori (released last year), whose female part is sung by Bhoomi Trivedi, while its music is by Shashi Suman. I also featured in it along with Benafsha Poonawala of Bigg Boss fame

My first cover song was Enna Sona, which I did for my YouTube channel. After that I did Hareya and Agar Tum Saath Ho.  

Besides, I have done a lot of shows with Sunidhi Chauhan Atif Aslam, Ayushmann Khurrana, Shankar Mahadevan etc. I have also done my individual shows.

How was your first musical outing, Surtarang, you won in 2007?

That’s was my first singing talent show international on an level Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Nigam, Jaspinder Narula, etc and many  Indian artists have been the winner of this show after which their journey started. It was my first international show, held in 2007, where I was declared as the winner. From there, I got a chance to go in Voice of India. These things were so new for me that I wasn’t confident to go for a reality show, but managed to reach top 60 at that time. After that I gave auditions for some others like Saregama and all. Indian Idol 10happened, later, in 2010.

Indian Idol 5 brought you to the spotlight. Any striking memories? Do you follow the current season?

It is the best time of my life. I was the first runner-up in Indian Idol season 5 in 2010 as after that show, my life changed. During those four months, I learnt a lot from the show that had very good mentors like Sunidhi Chauhan, Salim Merchant and Anu Malik on the judging panel. I would call myself, the luckiest person on the show for my comeback post elimination and Anu Malikji. I remember, how the wildcard entry option was used, on the spot, to bring me back. Besides, on the show, I was the best performer for four times during the show. Hence, I therefore had some good episodes and love the graph of my Indian Idol journey. Besides, I also got a chance to meet a lot of people.

Sometimes I do follow. The best thing of this season is that one of the contestants of Indian Idol Season 2 is the judge on its current season. Besides, when it comes to the contestants, it feels good to see good singers, belonging to various genres like classically, western trained etc. Also, a lot of attention has been given to their singing. Besides, the setup is also good. It’s great that every year, there is an effort being made to make something different and grand every year.

You just mentioned about Anu Malik. How had he contributed to your journey?

Anu Malik is one of the legendary and experienced music directors of the music industry. Since the first season, so many singers have emerged, who have also worked with him. Monali Thakur, Neha Kakkar, Sriram and others. During our Indian Idol season,Anu Malik has guided us a lot. He use personally approach us and give suggestions to improve our singing. I have learnt a lot from him. In the initial episodes itself, he had told us a lot of things, which helped a lot.

When I had started, I was very nervous, but he told me, ‘Rakesh, Aap bhool jao saari cheese. Tum ab stage pe aagaye ho, you are the star. Feel like a winner.’ Whenever I use to go on the stage, his would be the very first voice to reach me. ‘Rakesh sab bhool jao,’ he used to say. This way, my confidence would get built. Even backstage, he use to tell me ‘you have a feel in your voice. So, even if you don’t know classical, westernize, or do variations, you can win just on the basis of that feel. It is your USP, just make it strong and Aag laga do.’ I didn’t get a chance to work with him, but in future if I get one, I would love to.

What are thoughts on the independent music scene in India? 

Independent music has become so big nowadays. The speciality of independent music is that you showcase on your strengths while giving your 100 percent. There is also a room to experiment.

Today, our social media, (digital) is quite a hype.  So many YouTubers are becoming famous now. This is also an open platform for musicians, who are doing some songs, covers and you never know if some music director is watching. Also, the way independent music is proceeding; one would not need, today, to participate in a reality show in order to get famous. There a lot of artists, who have come ahead without doing reality shows like Guru Randhawa.

What are your upcoming projects?

I have sung songs for some upcoming movies and I am looking forward to their release by the end-of-this-year. I am also planning more independent music, be it covers as well as singles.