The reaction to his song Give me some sunshine from 3 Idiots is “mindblowingly beyond imagination,” says Suraj Jagan, who finds himself suddenly in demand for both live shows as well as films.
The boy from Kerala feels vindicated, and is especially happy that the song that has really made him is Give me some sunshine from 3 Idiots. “When a boy from Kerala decides that rock music in English and Hindi is going to be his livelihood, he is taken to be an idiot! So with 3 Idiots, I have proved that I am actually not one!” A recent award, he tells you, is the icing on the cake.
Suraj Jagan reveals how his song was singled out by Aamir Khan no less as a musical dark horse from the score. “He always believed in the song and said that it will connect with the youth. The thrust of the music promotion was obviously on All is well and Zooby dooby, but at the music release itself, I sensed that this song will be a hit on its own!”
The singer however admits that the scale of the film’s and music’s success has been unprecedented. “When I recorded the song I liked it, did my best and forgot about it, but now what has happened is incredible! For me, however, it was a great compliment when Shantanu Moitra stated in public that if my voice had not been approved by the filmmakers, he would have changed the tune!” The composer had promised him a song two years ago when encountering him in the jingles circuit where Suraj has always been busy.
“The world of jingles is great but obviously anonymity is high,” says the youngster. “People know your work but not the fact that it is you. My famous jingles include You and I in this beautiful world and Everyday I want to fly stay by my side and there are so many in every language from Hindi to Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Oriya and the South Indian languages as well.”
Suraj had his band called Dream Out Loud that did English songs. “That’s on hold now,” says Suraj. “I am now the lead vocalist of a Hindi band with six musicians. After Give me some sunshine we are getting a lot of offers even internationally.”
This sudden happy turn of events, says Suraj, has put on hold his planned Hindi rock album. “I have composed most of the songs. But right now, I have to flow with the tide. And as it happens, this year will see me sing more. I have sung Rang de in My Name Is Khan, the title-track in Karthik Calling Karthik and also in Hide & Seek.” After this, Suraj will also be heard in I Hate Luv Stories and Patiala House.
Suraj is gung-ho with whatever life offers him. “I did not go out of my way to become a playback singer, neither did I want to avoid singing in films! I was comfortable with my band and later my jingles, and still am.”
Suraj therefore had an unthinkable eight-year gap between his Hindi film debut with the Vishal-Shekhar song Hum naujawan from Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi in 1999 and his second lot of films that came in 2007. “I sang in a lot of small films, like Money Hai To Honey Hai, Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama and Humse Hain Jahaan. What was noticed, however, was my title-track in Johnny Gaddaar. And then there was Zehreele in Rock On!! , a song also filmed on me as Farhan Akhtar‘s rival contestant.” Straight, in which he sang five solos, barely registered its music on screen. And so it is only now that the turnaround has come, notes the singer who has sung a bit in Tamil and Telugu too. So how does his professional approach vary from jingles, his live work and films? “For me the difference is simply between studio work and live work. Both have aspects that cannot be compensated by the other! Live work gives instant reactions and a greater challenge. Studio work has a more intimate connection with associates and greater recognition,” says the admirer of Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Hemant Kumar. Among present singers, he likes everyone but could listen to Shankar Mahadevan and Vishal Dadlani for hours. “I like my singing to be a part of the creative process. In that sense, I love working with my band where I do the music and vocals and am a part of the lyrics writing process.”