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Exclusive! Kheech Te Naach singer Brijesh Shandilya: I never thought or knew I could ever make a career out of music

This is the third song the singer has sung for Ayushmann Khurrana for the film Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, which also features Vaani Kapoor

Akhila Damodaran
Dec 28, 2021
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Brijesh Shandilya sang Kheech Te Naach in film Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui

Singer Brijesh Shandilya rapped for the first time for a Bollywood film and says he would like to do more rap songs. He sang his first rap Kheench Te Nach with Vishal Dadlani for the film Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, featuring Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor in the lead roles. Brijesh shot to fame with his song Banno Tera Swagger from Tanu Weds Manu Returns. The song also won him the GiMA Award for the Best Duo/Group song and Mirchi Jubilee Platinum Disc award. He is also known for singing the title track of Salman Khan starrer Jai Ho, a song in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, and Mera Nachan Nu in Akshay Kumar starrer Airlift.

Brijesh has had a recent Bollywood release in Munna Michael. The song is called Swag and the music has been composed by Pranaay Rijia. He has also recorded a few songs for the Telugu film Spyder, starring Mahesh Babu. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the singer spoke about how he recorded the song Kheench Te Naach in 20 minutes, his process and journey so far. Excerpts:

Congratulations on the song Kheench Te Nach. Was it your first rap song or have you tried rapping before?

I have done rap songs before but they were not released. I did one for Zee which came out. But it is important how well they are promoted. The promotions for Kheech Te Naach from Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui happened well. And, I haven't done this kind of rap before. It is very fast and has a high tempo. I had to put so much energy into it that I have never done it before in my life (laughs). So it was my first time doing such a rap.

Did you always enjoy rapping?

Yes, 100 per cent. I enjoy raps. I have been listening to and singing rap songs since I was a kid. But never did I think I would get into music. I used to sing as a habit. I enjoyed listening to Baba Sehgal. I used to sing Aaja Meri Gaadi Mein Baith and Devang Patel's Stop That a lot. It was part of the movie The Gambler too. It was a lovely time then and now too.

You were mentioning how Kheech Te Naach is a fast and high-tempo song. So was your approach towards the song any different or did you follow the same process that you do usually for any song?

Usually, we are blank until we go to a recording studio. I get calls from composers and I go and find out what the song is all about. That is what happened with this song too. It was a surprise. I was wondering if I would be able to do it and was surprised with the faith Sachin-Jigar had put in me without even hearing me attempt such a thing before. They took a chance with me. I didn't have to just sing it and leave but had to put in a lot of energy and expressions as well. It was fun. Their vision is different. I kept trying to do the song and ended up recording it in 20 minutes. I am just glad that I could do something new.

Would you be exploring rap more now?

Yes, sure. If people get inspired and think I should do more rap, I am ready. I will do my best.

Who have been your favourite rappers?

Baba Sehgal has been my favourite since my childhood. Bachpan ka pyaar hai (laughs). From the current times, I would say Honey Singh and Badshaah. I like his tone and texture. I used to listen a lot to Apache Indian too. He is mind-blowing and amazing.

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Brijesh Shandilya

You had mentioned before that you never knew you would get into music. So how did it happen? Could you tell us about your journey?

Basically, I am a farmer. I never thought or knew I would ever make a career out of music for myself. I belong to a small village in Bastar district, near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. People there still follow age-old traditions and have that mindset. I didn't know what I would do in life until I was over 20 years old. I failed the metrics and my father was not sure if I would be able to do something in life. I told him I needed to leave the village and I needed my freedom to be able to think and find what I wanted to do. 

I started living at my uncle's house. My uncle supported me a lot and it was when my friend told me that I have a voice and I could sing that I realised I have a talent. I started taking music lessons and started doing stage performances in 2003. The first songs I sang were Tu He Re and  Khali Dil Nahin Jaan Bhi Mangda. I always wanted to do something different and sing with variations that others would not have heard. I got much appreciation and a round of applause for my performances. I went to different cities and learned a lot from there. I learned about the soul of music from Kolkata. I then headed to Delhi before landing in Mumbai in 2006. Only after reaching Mumbai did I feel I should try playback singing. I kept growing during the course of my journey. In 2008, I got active in playback singing when I got an offer to sing for the film Oye Lucky Lucky Oye. My name appeared on the big screen and on the CD cover. I was so happy seeing that I can't express it. 

Are your parents supportive of your career choice now?

They started understanding that music can be a career choice too since I started growing as a musician. In 2006, I had participated and got selected for Indian Idol during the auditions they organised in Lucknow. There were about 14,000 people standing in two queues of about a kilometre long since early morning. I got to go in around 8.30 pm and I was shortlisted. People there had also asked me how I feel being the first person from UP to be selected for the show and I told them my parents are not aware of it and that I shall tell my family now. I used to sing on AIR and my family would listen to it. My parents did feel guilty for not supporting me but I console them saying whatever happened had to happen.  

You had also worked on a song for Mahesh Babu in Telugu. How was that experience? Do you understand Telugu?

I do not know Telugu. After Banno got hit, I got a call from the Telugu industry. Raghava Lawrence's manager had called but it was difficult to communicate since I do not speak English that well and he didn't know Hindi too well either. I was not sure but then I thought if they aren't worried about me singing in the language, why should I worry. I thought I could fly in for two to four hours and try. I sang in 12 other languages too. I have sung in Punjabi, Oriya and other languages too. I had gone for a song in another film too. I would write down the words in Hindi or English to understand the pronunciation better. I got a call for Sarrainodu and I did that song in 45 minutes. The composer was surprised and said that even Telugu singers find it difficult to do such a song in a short time and asked how I was able to understand and do it. I didn't know how I did it but it just worked. It was an Allu Arjun song and needed a full-on attitude as well.

During the lockdown, you worked on about 25 independent singles. Could you tell us a bit about them?

It was suffocating at home, unable to meet anyone. I was not even able to do music during that time but slowly, I picked myself up and kept myself busy working on songs. They are different and some will be released soon. I have some of my other unreleased songs that will be out too.

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