Keshav Anand made his debut as a singer in the Hindi film industry with the mellifluous number ‘Bheege Naina’ from the 2013 film ‘Enemmy’. Though he received appreciation for the song, it took him a while to get the right opportunities and gain a foothold in the industry. With ‘Chaiyaan Mein Saiyaan Ki’ from ‘Khuda Haafiz: Chapter 2 – Agni Pariksha’, he has delivered a solid hit and is now, looking forward to regaling listeners with several melodious tracks in the near future.
In this interview, the singer – musician talks about his journey in the music industry, struggle phase, working with some of the top composers in the industry, upcoming projects and more.
Your song ‘Chaiyaan Mein Saiyaan Ki’ from the Vidyut Jammwal – Shivalika Oberoi starrer ‘Khuda Haafiz: Chapter 2 – Agni Pariksha’ became a huge hit. Interestingly, you met composer Mithoon through his father Naresh Sharma with whom you had worked for a long time.
Yes, that’s right! After coming to Mumbai, I started looking through number of people working in the music industry through the phone directory. I found Mithoon sir’s number in it decided to call him. Somebody picked up the phone at the other end. I thought it was Mithoon sir. I told him that I wish to meet him. In one week, I got the opportunity to meet Naresh ji. Since I was not familiar with faces, I thought of Naresh ji to be Mithoon sir. Naresh ji was very compassionate and kind. He heard some of my tracks and gave me feedback on my work. After a couple of months, he called me for a recording. That is when I realized he was Mithoon sir’s father. Naresh ji has been a pioneer in the music industry. Naresh ji and his partner Anand ji compose music as a duo now. I have recorded many beautiful songs for them. ‘Befikar Dil’ was one of the songs I recorded for them.
How was your experience of working with Mithoon?
I didn’t know but my songs were being played out to Mithoon sir. Through those songs, he gauged my growth as a singer. He is one of the very few composers today who doesn’t believe in trying out multiple voices for a song. Once he is sure about a particular voice working out for a song, he calls the singer and gets the song recorded by him or her. I distinctively remember the day he called me to dub for ‘Saiyaan Mein’. He briefed me about the song and then, gave me the freedom to interpret it in my own way. He couldn’t be in the studio for a long time as he was unwell. His team was there during the recording. It was a romantic track with a Sufi feel to it. Working with Mithoon sir was a magical experience.
You made your debut with the song ‘Bheege Naina’ from the film 2013. It was quite an underrated song and was appreciated by those who heard it. How did you get your first break?
I had not shifted to Mumbai by then but would visit the city once in a while. I used to do a lot of playback singing in Bengaluru where I was living. My mother, who is a doctor, has been my biggest support system. She happened to meet Gourov Dasgupta and requested to hear my voice once. She sent him a voice sample. Thankfully, Gourov liked it and told me we would work on something together soon. When I met him in Mumbai, he asked me to record ‘Bheege Naina’. After a couple of months, Gourov called me up and told me that Mithun (Chakraborty) da has really liked my voice. He was the producer of the film. That gave me a lot of confidence.
After that, one expected to hear your voice in more songs but that didn’t quite happen. Why?
‘Aashiqui 2’ released in 2013, the same year ‘Bheege Naina’ came out. That marked the arrival of the Arijit Singh wave. He rightfully got all the success he deserved. He is one of the best artists out there and inspires me tremendously. I didn’t get as many opportunities as I hoped to but I took it in my stride. I looked at things positively and thought that maybe I need to prepare myself a little more. I have constantly worked towards honing my skills.
How did you sustain yourself during this phase?
I used to do a lot of shows. That helped me sustain myself. It also kept the artist in me alive. I produced music for some composers during this time. Even though I didn’t do a lot of work as a playback singer, I remained very close to music. I had also participated in Indian Idol at one point of time.
You recently collaborated with Gourov Dasgupta on two original tracks for Hitz Fresh Tunes, a musical project or series put together by Hitz Music.
Gourov has always been very fond of my voice. We have been very close ever since we worked together on ‘Bheege Naina’ (‘Enemmy’). He is a self-made person and I have been hugely inspired by his journey. We meet up often and have discussions related to music. I am glad we could collaborate on a professional project after a long time. We worked together on two songs for Hitz Fresh Tunes. One song is in a pop rock space and the other is a rock ballad.
Did you take formal training in music?
I spent a large part of my life in a boarding school in Mangalore. It was a wonderful place for education. There was some emphasis on classical music and bhakti geet (devotional music) there. My mathematics teacher had learnt music from Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. I learnt Hindustani classical music from him for 5-6 years. My father Mr. Anand Krishna was a doctor but he was very passionate about singing. He was known as the Mohd. Rafi of South India. I studied biomedical engineering and after that, I decided to pursue a career as a singer. I learnt a lot of things, including playing the keyboard, on my own.
What are you doing next?
I have recorded a couple of songs for a few films but unless they release, I wouldn’t be able to talk about them. As a singer, I want to sing songs in every genre.