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Arijit Singh (Bengali: অরিজিৎ সিং) is an Indian playback singer and a music programmer. Born in Jiaganj, Murshidabad, West Bengal, his career began upon participating in the reality show Fame Gurukul (2005), in which he lost at the finals. After winning another reality show called 10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil, Singh built a recording setup of his own, beginning his journey with music programming. Subsequently, he went to become as an assistant music programmer to Pritam Chakraborty, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar and Mithoon. He has recently sung a song in the movie 24.The music was composed by A.R Rahman.
Singh became more well-known with the release of "Tum Hi Ho" from Aashiqui 2 (2013). He was given the Best Male Playback Singer award for the song, in 59th Filmfare Awards. In 2014, he collaborated with Jeet Gannguli—for whom he performed the rest of his tracks in Aashiqui 2 —for CityLights, where he rendered the romantic version of the song "Muskurane", which fetched him most nominations in the year. Gannguli composed "Suno Na Sangemarmar" and Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy's Sufi song, "Mast Magan" garnered him another two nominations in 60th Filmfare Awards.
Life and career
1987–2004: Early life
Singh was born on 25 April 1987 in Jiaganj, Murshidabad, West Bengal to a Punjabi father and a Bengali mother. He initiated training in music from his house, since his maternal grandmother used to sing and his maternal aunt is trained in Indian classical music. His maternal uncle also plays the tabla. He also learnt music from his mother who sings and plays the tabla. For studies, he went to Raja Bijay Singh High School and Sripat Singh College, a University of Kalyani affiliate. According to Singh he "was a decent student, but cared more about music". His inclination towards music led his parents to decide on training him professionally. He was taught Indian classical music by Rajendra Prasad Hazari and trained in tabla by Dhirendra Prasad Hazari while Birendra Prasad Hazari taught him Rabindra Sangeet and pop music.
2005–09: Career beginnings
In 2005, Singh auditioned for the reality show Fame Gurukul, insisted by Rajendra Prasad Hazari since he felt that "classical music was a dying tradition". Initially being hesitated of taking that chance, Singh joined the show since composer Shankar Mahadevan was included in the jury panel and he has a classical background and "astounding versatility". Though Singh lost the show to the finals, he entered another reality show, 10 Ke 10 Le Gaye Dil, which is a musical face-off between the winners of Fame Gurukul and Indian Idol. After winning the show, Singh built a recording setup of his own, beginning his journey with music programming. Subsequently, he went to become as an assistant music programmer to Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy, Vishal–Shekhar and Mithoon. During the time, Mahadevan once tried to convince a producer to retain Singh's version of a certain song that he was composing, saying Arijit is the voice of the future. But the producer refused, claiming that he wants a "popular" voice. Eventually Mahadevan dubbed the song with another singer.
2010–13: Early releases and Aashiqui 2
In 2010, Singh started working with Pritam Chakraborty on three films—Golmaal 3, Crook and Action Replayy. During the time, he started singing scratches on Chakraborty's insistence. In 2011, Singh made his Bollywood music debut with the Mithoon-composition, "Phir Mohabbat" from Murder 2, which was recorded in 2009 though released in 2011. The same year, when he was programming the song "Raabta" from Agent Vinod (2012), Chakraborty wanted him to sing the classical arrangement in the song. The part was retained in the four versions of the song, and made him to sing the entire composition in one of the versions. Apart from Agent Vinod, Singh dubbed for Chakraborty in three other films released during the year; Players, Cocktail and Barfi!. He also lent his voice for Chirantan Bhatt in 1920: Evil Returns and for Vishal–Shekhar in Shanghai, where the song "Duaa" from the latter fetched him Mirchi Music Award for Upcoming Male Playback Singer award and was nominated in the same category for "Phir Le Aya Dil" from Barfi!.
Singh rose to widespread prominence with the release of the song "Tum Hi Ho" from Aashiqui 2 (2013). The song fetched him several awards and nominations including Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer. He worked with Jeet Gannguli for the rest of his tracks in the album. Gannguli was searching for a "fresh voice" for the film, when he stumbled upon Singh's "Duaa" on YouTube. Singh further allied with Chakraborty, singing "Dilliwaali Girlfriend", "Kabira" and "Ilahi" for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Other than rendering the encore version of "Kabira", he was associated as the music producer of the track along with "Balam Pichkari" from the same film. Singh considered the period as a "lean phase" which helped him in becoming a "better" musician. The duo collaborated with Shahid Kapoor, performing "Main Rang Sharbaton Ka" from Phata Poster Nikhla Hero and "Dhokha Dhadi" from R... Rajkumar. Moreover, he dubbed for Shah Rukh Khan in the song "Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari" from Chennai Express which was composed by Vishal–Shekhar. Apart from rendering the duet version of "Har Kisi Ko" from Boss along with Neeti Mohan, the year marks his collaboration with Sharib–Toshi and Sanjay Leela Bhansali by singing the song "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse" from Jackpot for the former and the semi-classical number, "Laal Ishq" from Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela for the latter. While Singh picked "Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse" as one of his personal favorite songs, he chose "Tose Naina" from Mickey Virus as "closest to his heart".
In 2014, Singh got the chance to work with two of his favorite music directors, Sajid–Wajid and A. R. Rahman. He performed two tracks of Main Tera Hero and the song "Raat Bhar" from Heropanti for the former, and dubbed the Hindi version of the song "Medhuvaagathaan" from Kochadaiiyaan titled "Dil Chaspiya" for the latter. He rendered three re-mixed songs; Amit Trivedi's "Hungama Ho Gaya", Sharib–Toshi's "Samjhawan" and Arko Pravo Mukherjee's "Aaj Phir". Singh worked with Vishal Bhardwaj, recording two songs from Haider and with Sachin–Jigar for "Jaise Mera Tu" in Happy Ending. The year marks his collaboration with many other music directors including Tony Kakkar and Palash Muchhal. During the year, he provided vocals for Mithoon in "Humdard" and "Hai Dil Ye Mera", Vishal–Shekhar in "Manwa Laage", Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy in "Sajde", Sharib–Toshi in two songs of Zid and Pritam Chakraborty in three tracks of Holiday which was arranged by Singh himself. Gannguli-composed Muskurane garnered him most nominations in the year, while he received two Filmfare nominations for Suno Na Sangemarmar and the Sufi song Mast Magan. Singh picked "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare"—originally sung by Mehdi Hassan and re-composed for Haider by Vishal Bhardwaj—as his most favorite track from the year.
In 2015, Singh made his Tamil debut with the song "Neeye Vaazhkai Enben" from the film Pugazh. He also provided vocals for the song "Sooraj Dooba Hain" from Roy, which was composed by Amaal Mallik, who wanted "a voice that does not sing many peppy numbers" for the track. During the year, he again worked with Mallik in the song "Khwaishein" from Calendar Girls. Apart from dubbing the Hindi version of the song "Pookkalae Sattru Oyivedungal" from Rahman's I, along with Shreya Ghoshal, Singh teamed up with Gannguli and Bobby–Imran for Khamoshiyan, where he performed the title song of the film and "Baatein Ye Kabhi Na" for the former and "Tu Har Lamha" for the latter. He collaborated with Gannguli in two other projects; "Teri Khushboo" from Mr. X and the title track of Hamari Adhuri Kahani. Besides working with Bhatt for "Teri Meri Kahaani" and Sachin–Jigar for "Chunar", he worked with some new composers like, Bann Chakraborty, Khamosh Shah, Jatinder Shah, and Manj Musik. Moreover, Singh recorded a reprise version of Sonu Nigam's 1999 song "Deewana Tera" for Ek Paheli Leela. The year marks the first collaboration of Singh and Himesh Reshammiya, with the song "Baaton Ko Teri" from All Is Well. Furthermore, he voiced for Bhardwaj in "Shaam Ke Saaye" and "Kya Pataa" from Talvar and Drishyam respectively, while he performed Phantom's "Saware" and "Sooiyan" from Guddu Rangeela, which he considered one of the few compositions close to his heart. Apart from recording for soundtracks of the film, Singh released his second promotional single during the year. Titled, "Chal Waha Jaate Hain", the song is composed by Mallik, featuring Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon. Recently, Arijit made his marathi debut with the song "Yaar Illahi – Qawwali" from the film Katyar Kaljat Ghusali.
In 2015, Chinmayi Sripada has recorded a romantic duet titled 'Sooiyan', written by talented Irshad Kamil and Amit Trivedi, with Singh for the Bollywood film Guddu Rangeela.
Vocals and musical style
In an interview with The Times of India, Singh mentioned that he has a "natural voice" and when his voice breaks, it recovers automatically; "I don't do anything special to maintain my voice". Shekhar Ravjiani from the music director duo Vishal–Shekhar wrote that Singh's "vocal texture is brilliant. The way he emotes and the soul he puts into each song is exemplary". India Today identifies his voice as "raw and grainy", while International Business Times consider his voice "soothing". Koimoi, in a review, remarked: "Arijit has the quality of getting into the zone and the mood of the song which he sings. Be it a romantic, sad or a peppy number, he voices his best to any". Singh describes his voice as "nasal" and he believed that his voice matches with all the actors. Bollywood Hungama, in a review of Aashiqui 2, described Singh as a singer with a "rich texture and depth in his voice". However they advised Singh to "sing smoothly", without heavy breaths in between.
In an interview, Singh mentioned that he would like to explore classical music style the most. He also stated that he love singing folk music, and like all genres except for heavy metal music—since it is too loud for him. Singh is most common known for his romantic songs and was associated with the tag "romantic singer". Regarding that, Singh believed that he does not care about the fact that doing just one type of song is "hampering" his growth. However, through his career, he explores different musical style, including; a club party song "Raat Bhar", an electronic "Blame The Night", a Punjabi Folk "Samjhawan", a Sufi or Qawwali song "Mast Magan" and a ghazal titled "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare". Regarding the variety, Hindustan Times stated; "Singh is very versatile as a singer and has a great cinematic voice, [...] One can fall in love with his romantic voice. Plus, he can sing nice fun songs as well". According to Krsna, in today's times, a vocalist needs to have all genres of music "at his fingertips and Arijit has that". While reviewing the soundtrack of Main Tera Hero, Bollywood Hungama perceived that he "shines" in the form, which is a "totally different setup" from what we have heard him in before.
Singh's "mispronunciation" of the phonetic 'ta' syllable was criticised by India West, while reviewing the song "Chunar". Similarly, Bollywood Hungama considered his pronunciation "flawed" in the title track of Khamoshiyan. While reviewing the rest of his tracks in the film, The Indian Express, felt that Singh's rendition in the song sounds as "he's on autopilot", though Rajiv Vijayakar from Bollywood Hungama felt his rendition is "emotional".
Public image and influences
During the early 2013, Singh appeared sporting a "long-haired and bearded look". He reasoned that he did not get time to "cut his hair or shave" when he is in Mumbai. In an interview with The Times of India, Singh described himself as "horrible looking" and that he does not "care about it".
I haven't cared about my image till date and I don't want to do anything about it. If you are doing shows you have to look good, not jazzy. It's just that I want to look as fresh as I can. I like jeans and shirts. I want to look like a musician more than a pop star.
Singh felt that his passion for singing is the biggest influence in the music career; "It's not like that I was influenced by anyone to enter the industry. I always dreamt of becoming a singer". Though he is being inspired by many artists, Singh named KK as his favorite singer along with Ayushmann Khurrana. He named Pritam Chakraborty, Vishal–Shekhar, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy, Amit Trivedi, Mithoon and A. R. Rahman as his favorite music directors. Singh has idolized Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh and Mehdi Hassan. He stated that they are the ones who actually inspired him to sing ghazals and semi-classical songs. He also had shared his fondness for Kishore Kumar and Mohit Chauhan, for whom he is often compared to; "Chauhan is a great singer, a great musician and a big icon in India. Being compared to him makes me tremendously happy".
Singh also expressed his desire to sing for Aamir Khan and work in a Salman Khan's production. Regarding the comparison made with Atif Aslam, Singh stated; "I respect [Aslam] as I do every individual musician and artist". In an interview with The Indian Express, Singh stated that he loves the work of Shalmali Kholgade, Shefali Alvares and Irfan. He also mentioned that his "current favourite" singer is Chinmayi.
Personal life and other works
According to Singh, apart from being a singer he is a badminton player, a writer, a movie freak and a documentary maker. According to Forbes's Celebrity 100 list, released annually, Singh earned ₹350 million (US$5.2 million) in 2014. Despite the popularity, Singh does not give much interviews or get his photos clicked. In a concert at Emaar Boulder Hills, he stated; "If I want to eat fish, I want to be free to go and buy it myself in the market. I don't like these interviews and photos".
In September 2013, Singh was arrested for allegedly assaulting a journalist, Apurba Chowdhury, when Chowdhury asked him details about his divorce suit against his wife, Koyel Singh. Reportedly, Singh was granted bail the following day. On 20 January 2014, Singh married his childhood friend, Koel Roy, in Tarapith temple, West Bengal. He confirmed the news by posting his wedding picture on a social networking site. Accordingly, it was his second marriage since he was previously married to one of his co-contestants from a reality show. Roy was also previously married and has a four-year-old daughter, when they got married. In August 2015, Singh claimed that he received an extortion call from gangster Ravi Pujari, who demanded to give ₹5 crore (US$740,000). Though Singh refused to file a complaint, Oshiwara police made a diary entry of the matter.
Singh completed shooting for his directorial debut in 2015. Titled Bhalobasar Rojnamcha, it is a Bengali feature film compiled with seven short films. Co-written by Singh, a work-in-progress version of the film has been sent to some film festivals abroad. Singh also has an NGO named "Let There Be Light" which works for his locality in Jiaganj and for BPL community.
Singh resides in Andheri, Mumbai.
Impact and recognition
Singh's work has received praise from several artists. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan mentioned that he likes Singh's singing along with Ankit Tiwari's. Shreya Ghoshal remarked that he is "versatile and has a soulful voice". Composer Anu Malik noted Singh as one of his favorites among the "current lot of singers". Roop Kumar Rathod also picked Singh as a singer he admires from the current music generations. Aditi Singh Sharma describing him as "today's king of romance" praised his recording skills;
[Singh] recording me had made it so much easier for me to sing the songs. I can't explain this in words, but whoever has recorded with him would know what I am talking about. He is a huge reason why I was able to sing songs with such ease. [...] It's what helped me bring in the right attitude into the song.
Kunal Ganjawala considered him as "a great gift to the industry". Richa Sharma mentioned that Singh is her favorite singer from the current lot; "He sings very well". One of his contemporaries, Mohammad Irfan Ali believes Singh "is one of the biggest singers in India right now and if people are comparing me with him, then I take it positively. I really appreciate his singing and love his work". According to Jubin Nautiyal, Singh has a "knack of giving any song a magical feel".
Norway's musician John Leo selected Singh as his favorite singer form "these days". Actor Suyyash Rai affirmed that he "developed an interest in singing" because of Atif Aslam and Singh. Singer Hariharan commented about Singh; "Today's youngsters have such creative minds and so many ideas that it's refreshing". Suresh Wadkar praised him as one of the "great singers of this generation". Atif Aslam, whose singing style is compared with that of Singh's, replied that he likes Singh's music and his compositions.
In a profile interview from Outlook, lyricist Swanand Kirkire declared that no one in recent times has seen such a "spell of success", and RJ Meera Damji from Radio Mirchi affirmed that every second song on their radio playlist is Arijit's. Music composer Krsna said; "He is involved, gives his inputs, visualises the song, works on how to sound different, stylises his voice if the melody is a bit weak". While Siddharth Mahadevan looks to Singh for inspiration as he can "sing any genre", Mika Singh mentioned that Singh has a "distinct style and is also terrific".
Arijit Singh has sung a song called 'Yeh Fitoor Mera in the newly released movie 'Fitoor'. Composed Amit Trivedi, the song has Aditya Roy Kapur and Katrina Kaif in it and even has glimpses of Lara Dutta.