For the 90s kids, since childhood, it was mostly S P Balasubrahmanyam or Mano we knew as singers in Telugu cinema. But, as we grew with cinema, more singers made their mark and every 5 years, Telugu cinema would witness one singer taking the industry by storm. It started with Udit Narayan, KK, Karthik, Hemachandra and so on. The singer who is taking the present generation by storm is Anurag Kulkarni.
After claiming the Super Singer title in 2015, opportunities kept knocking at his door and he made every opportunity count. Chusi Chudangane (Chalo), Mooga Manasulu (Mahanati), Aagi Aagi (Ee Nagaraniki Emaindhi), Pilla Ra (RX 100), Asha Pasham (C/O Kancherapalem) are few songs that speak for themselves. We at VoxSpace got to talk to this amazing artist, who happens to be a very sorted person.
Hi Anurag Kulkarni. Though the name sounds much like a north Indian one, we are aware that you are from Nizamabad. Could you clear the air of confusion for a common audience like me?
Haha! Yes, Kulkarni is a surname from Maharashtra, Karnataka mostly! I belong to a Maharashtrian family settled at the border of Maharashtra and Telangana at a village called Neela on the banks of river Godavari.
The present Telugu Film industry is now flooded with singers. Yet, you have somehow managed to carve a niche for yourself. Could you throw some light on your journey so far? From where it all started till the recent success that you’ve been enjoying?
Of course yes, I feel with an increasing number of singers, opportunities increase and everyone will fit into the work that they seek. But yes, getting noticed is a bit tough, which happened in my case. I owe all the credit to my music directors for giving me good songs! My journey is pretty much like many people out there. I was mostly brought up in towns and in search of a music guru. I requested my dad to move to Hyderabad and that’s how we shifted here during my high school. I don’t know if this is a success and if I am enjoying it, because, I just started working and things fell in place! For me, success is a journey. So, I am happy with the way I have started my career. Let’s hope good things will happen throughout my journey too.
I’m sure this journey has been a remarkable experience for you. What’s that one thing, maybe a lesson or point, that this journey so far has taught you?
As I said, yes this is a good beginning for me. One lesson it taught me is to be spontaneous and not to be rigid about anything in life. So, I shall take life as it comes but shall have my own efforts to make things better.
So, what did Anurag as a kid want to be vs Anurag, the next generation singer in Telugu Film Industry?
I had many dreams as a kid, a scientist, a doctor, an astronaut (maybe everyone has this). Music was not there in my home. But, due to the culture of spirituality that we follow, I was exposed to a lot of devotional music which may be made me what I am today.
It looks like you won almost every stage you took to. How does it feel to be a celebrity now and have a fan following?
No, I have failed more than I have succeeded. I am proud to say that as I love failures and embrace them as a sign of progress. If we don’t fail, we will not think of many factors to improve. I don’t understand the term celebrity. Maybe it’ll take time. Fans are the ones who make us what we are. I really don’t know if I have any but, if I have, I shall be grateful to them for accepting my work.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received so far?
As a part of work, I keep receiving a few. A couple of those I cherish and feel good are when Mani Sharma sir and Mickey J Meyer sir tell me to believe in myself and keep doing what I am doing. Almost every composer I have worked with was very positive and encouraging.
For most of us, the only way we get to listen to good regional music is through movies. Individual or private albums are something alien to us. What’s your take on it and do you have any plans of launching your album?
True. But, I guess, now the independent music scene is taking shape slowly. There was a lot of independent music back then too, from people like S Rajeswara Rao garu, Maestro Ilayaraja sir, A R Rahman sir, Koti sir, M M Keeravani sir, Mani Sharma sir did well in independent music in their time. Singers like Malgudi Shubha Ma’am, Smitha Ma’am did some pop stuff. So, independent music is always there. Now, after a certain gap, people like Rahul Sipligunj, Hemachandra, Deepu, Dhanunjay and a few others have been working to get their own mark in the independent scene too. It takes time and independent music surely has some great future and it will become a big thing soon. I don’t have any immediate plans as of now, but if I feel like doing something. I shall definitely do it, but don’t know when.
Who is your biggest inspiration in the music industry?
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan!
Now that you have kickstarted a singing career in films, where do you want to take yourself?
I want to contribute as much good music as I can and yes, people will show me the way from time to time based on the work that I deliver.
Apart from singing, what interests you or what occupies your time?
I keep talking to friends from my school, college and I love travelling to new places, I love playing tennis!
Let’s get into some lighter talks. Here’s our quick-5:
You’d propose a girl with a song or by expressing yourself through words?
A song might be dramatic for me. So, surely through words!
If you were given a bag full of money, apart from giving it to charity, what would you do with it?
Travel, attend as many music concerts as I can. Buy some electronic gear. A lot can be done with the money. I love doing charity!
What’s the dream destination you’d want to travel to?
Many, Nashville and New Zealand for now!
In a party if you come across your favourite musician, who would you wish for and what would you ask him/her?
Ilayaraja sir, the secret behind his perseverance.
Finally, what’s your motto in life?
Live and let live, stay happy and make people happy for no reason!