By : Sanjeev Verma
The Himachali voice got some national recognition during singing talent hunt contests with couple of local boys making it to the final stages, but there has been one guy who has consistently kept voice from the mountains alive in Bollywood, and yet you are bond to be surprised hearing that his journey towards success started from Himachal Pradesh.
Unlike celebrity actors like Preity Zinta, Kangna Ranaut or even Anupam Kher, Mohit Chauhan, known for his soft romantic voice, is hardly recognized as a Himachali face in the glam world. Nevertheless, influence of music from the hills can always be felt in his rustic voice, and thus he continues to be an inspiration for many a aspirant. Mohit got noticed in the music world with his first album ‘Boondein’ with Silk Route, where the song ‘Dooba Dooba’ was highly appreciated by people. In Bollywood, his career got a flying start when he was approached by none other than AR Rahman to sing a song in ‘Rang De Basanti’, where ‘Khoon Chala’ got wide appreciation. Mohit has given his voice in many Bollywood movies like Road, Mukt, Main Meri Patni Aur Woh, Rang De Basanti, Jab We Met, EMI, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Kismat Konnection, Fashion and the latest Delhi-6.
Some excerpts from an interaction with Mohit Chauhan during his recent visit to Delhi:
How did you start your journey in music?
I was born and brought up in Himachal. I am from Nahan in district Sirmaur. Music was always a part of my life since I was a small kid. Though I was a science student having done MSc from Dharamshala College in Himachal Pradesh, I was always attracted towards music. After completing my education in Himachal, I came down to Delhi to pursue my career in music and met some people. This was how we formed the Silk Route, which gave me a start in the music industry.
Where did you complete your education from?
I did my education from different districts in Himachal. I did my college from Bilaspur, Mandi and Nahan. Finally, I completed my MSc from Dharamshala.
Did you take some music classes or any formal training?
No. I never took any formal training in music and have learnt all by myself.
When did you start your Silk Route Band?
We started Silk Route in 1996. Boondein was our first album, which was appreciated by the people and we got recognition in the music society because of it. But it doen’t play any more. Now it is just Mohit Chauhan.
Do you have any future plans of forming a band?
I think about it sometimes. Though I perform now with a group of people and it’s like a band, but we haven’t named it formally. In future I hope to start one.
Which was your first Bollywood movie?
My first Bollywood movie was Road by Ram Gopal Varma.
Which are the forthcoming movies in 2009 for which you have given your voice?
The two forthcoming Bollywood movies are 8 X 10 Tasveer and Sikander. There are some other movies also in the pipeline for which I am singing and composing as well.
What are your future plans of launching an album?
Presently, I am busy with the recording of my first solo album, which will be launched soon.
How was your experience of recording the album of poems written by former President APJ Abdul Kalam?
Last year I composed an album of six poems ‘Kalaam’ written by Dr.Kalam. I was fortunate to get a chance to work for him and indeed it was a great experience for me to give voice to the poems of the former first citizen of our country and an eminent personality. I will always cherish my interaction with him when he took me for a walk in the Mughal Gardens.
After the success of your first album, Boondein, there was some time gap when people did not notice you. It took you some time to establish in Bollywood as a playback singer.
Yeah, I was not in a hurry to push myself in Mumbai. I was meeting people, making contacts and trying to establish myself in the industry.
Do you have any plans to compose an album in Himachali?
I usually put one or two mountain songs like Kuch Sailadiyan, Amma Puchhdi, in my performances wherever I perform. Hopefully, I may compose one in the coming days.
As you have worked with AR Rahman, what would you like to say about him?
I have worked with him twice. He is a great inspiration and truly a great singer and composer.
Born and brought up in Himachal, what would you like to say about it?
Himachal is my home and mountains have given me inspiration. It has always taught me to be humble. Whenever I come to Himachal I like meeting people. It is a great place to learn from the nature.
What would you like to do for Himachal, being the ambassador of a small and beautiful hilly state?
I would love to inculcate respect for the traditions, culture and the heritage which we have.
How do you assess young Himachali singers like Vicky Chauhan, Karnail Rana, Kuldeep Sharma and others?
They are good singers and performing well. I respect them and wish them all the best.
With parliamentary elections approaching near, what message would you like to give to the citizens?
My message to the youth is to balance themselves. Try to make your environment clean and think before you cast your vote. We need harmony and not violence or strife.