Sunday, August 26, 2007
Aditya Narayan - son of Udit Narayan -The new Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge host
'I don't want to be a sweet, sharif anchor'
Star-kid Aditya Udit Narayan is Indian television's confident new host.
In all probability, the name Aditya Narayan will fail to ring a bell and there's very little chance of people recognising him immediately. He struts about with a spiked hairdo, flaunts Narendra Kumar outfits and looks all scrubbed and squeaky clean.
Look closely and he's even sporting a gym-toned body. A rich kid? Yes. Anonymous? Not quite. Not when you add 'Udit' to his middle name. Aditya Udit Narayan is the 19-year-old son of well-known playback singer Udit Narayan.
But that's not his only claim to fame. For the past three to four months, Narayan has been gradually carving out his own identity, trying hard to break away from the 'papa's sonny' tag.
For now, the TRPs indicate that he's way ahead of his dad too. While Indian Idol, on which Udit Narayan is currently a judge, shows a TRP of 2.7, SaReGaMaPa Challenge is already marching ahead with TRPs of 5.5.
But it hasn't been all that simple. As the brand new anchor of Zee's most popular programme SaReGaMaPa, the young Narayan came into the show when a lot of shuffling was taking place.
When Gajendra Singh (the previous director) left the show after 12 years, taking with him the popular anchor, playback singer Shaan, along with some of the previous judges (including singers Abhijeet and Alka Yagnik, and music directors Aadesh Shrivastava and Jatin-Lalit), the reins of SaReGaMaPa came into the hands of Gyan Sahay, who was previously the director of photography.
With Sahay as the director, the search for the anchor began and Narayan ended up becoming one of the potential candidates for anchoring the show, after the Zee officials saw some of his stage performances.
"I didn't want to be the 'sweet, sharif anchor' and I was clear that I wanted to look my age on the show," says Narayan.
Was he apprehensive of taking on a role that was made popular by both Sonu Nigam [Images] and Shaan? "I knew I had to make a mark with my own style," he says, a tone of confidence in his voice.
Sahay, for one, feels that the young anchor's USP is his language. "He has a very good control over his language and is communicating well with the participants and audiences alike," says Sahay.
What's nice about Narayan is that he's even singing confidently in front of all the judges and contestants. Unlike Nigam or Shaan, who were established playback singers while anchoring the show, Narayan hasn't had too many songs to his credit recently, even though he was a popular child playback singer and actor.
So while the other contestants (most from his own age group) are being graded for their singing abilities, Narayan invariably has to anchor, sing, and excel, in front of the judges.
"Thanks to my father, I have been a part of the industry ever since I was born. When I was four years old, I performed for two hours non-stop at my own birthday party. I was going to recording studios, earning as much as Rs 12,000 as a kid for each song, and carrying my own little briefcase with headphones, a personal letterhead and cassettes. So in that sense, I am familiar with how it (the industry) functions."
What was difficult was trying to give himself a break when his voice started cracking at the age of 13. "It happens to all boys and since it happened while I was in a recording studio, yes, I did feel a little hurt and cried for a couple of days," he says.
He started concentrating on academics and completed his studies in commerce, before flying off to London [Images] to finish a two-year-diploma in contemporary English music. It happened at the right time too, especially as his father grabbed the limelight for all the wrong reasons -- finding himself in the thick of controversy when a lady claimed he was her husband.
Though tightlipped about the incident, Aditya feels that the tag of being a 'star kid' has its own pitfalls. "People are quick to judge you, think you're a brat and feel that everything's wrong with you," he says.
London, in his view, was the perfect refuge. "I was the only Indian, the underdog, and had to prove myself on my own merit. That really helped me and for two years I found myself on my own little journey," he tells us.
But what about those who think he's overconfident already? "I'm learning to tread cautiously," he replies. "Like the other day, when I interrupted one of the judges on SaReGaMaPa, I was asked to keep quiet. None of that footage was edited and in that sense, I wasn't spared. It was shown to audiences and I learnt that my views needed to be undisclosed while the cameras were rolling."
For someone, who is already juggling live shows and anchoring, Narayan hopes to sing for contemporary music director duo Vishal-Shekhar, while also looking at a career in acting.
"Earlier people 'concluded' that Aditya will only be a singer, now they're 'confused' whether Aditya will only be a singer or do something else. I want to explore all facets of creativity," he says.
Narayan is confident of himself, and for now his popularity is soaring, thanks to the brilliant TRPs of the show. Teenagers are watching the show for the 'cool dude' and girls in that age bracket are becoming his fans.
For now, Narayan, in his own words, is, "confident, happy and working hard". But really, perhaps for the first time on Indian television, an anchor of a show has begun his journey along with other contestants. Let's see how far he goes from here.
TALKING POINT with Aditya Narayan
After a film role and an album, you suddenly disappeared from the scene?
I was 10 years old when I did the album. But as I approached adolescence, my voice began to crack and I was forced to make the choice of staying away, even though the offers continued. In fact, the changes in my voice haven’t completely set in.
So hosting Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007 is a way to reintroduce yourself?
Certainly. I am not looking at hosting as a career. The way I see it, this stint starts me off on a fresh note where I have no other pressures apart from the TRPs and my singing on the show. I have no contemporaries to feel competitive with.
You had earned a reputation of being bratty and annoying.
At 20, I am still naughty. But I am a much humbler self. I feel like I have mind of a 30-year-old now. As for the show, I want to keep the mood casual and happy.
Did the maturity come from dealing with the very public controversies concerning your father (Udit Narayan).?
My father and I are very similar people. We love and respect each other, but beyond a point we don’t interfere in each other’s lives either. It’s only human to make mistakes. Whatever the issue, it makes no difference to me.
Does your father’s judging Indian Idol 3 bring the competition home?
He hopes for my show to be a success and I hope the same for him. But TV rivalries hardly matter to us.
You have a diploma in English contemporary music. You seem to have more on your mind.
My secret ambition is to launch myself as an English singer. That’s why the course.
INTERVIEW with Aditya Narayan
The new Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge host
Aditya, the young singer son of Udit Narayan is all set to host Zee’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007 starting May 4. A chat with the rising star...
One would have thought you’ll make your presence in the industry with a song. Instead you are anchoring a show...
I want to be a playback singer but I am not yet ready for that. I was in London completing a diploma in English Contemporary Music and returned a couple of months ago. My parents tell me that I have a lot of singing offers and my father is surprised that I am not taking those up. But I feel, I am not yet prepared to get into full-fledged singing right now because I am still growing up as a singer and even the industry deserves much more from me. I want to complete my graduation in Literature and only then take up singing as a career.
So, what prompted you to host Sa Re Ga Ma Pa...?
When I returned from London, Zee approached me with this offer. I have been watching the show since I was a child and it is the longest running exclusive musical show. Many singers like Kunal Ganjawalla and Shreya Ghosal have come out of it and gained popularity. Even the hosts Sonu Nigam and Shaan became famous after the show. Moreover, I realised that, the host of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has a major role to play. It is a platform for him to showcase his talent. Since its inception 13 years ago, every episode opens with the host’ s performance which serves as a benchmark for the contestants. It is an honest show giving good singers to the industry.
What kind of look would you project?
New, fabulous and different. The kind you have never seen before on the show. My clothes are designed by Narendra Kumar and you will see me wearing suits, kurtas, cargos and jeans.
After Sonu Nigam and Shaan, there will be great expectations from you, does that bother you?
Sonu Nigam became a household name with the show and catpulted to fame as a playback singer. Even Shaan who was known as a pop singer is now one of the biggest names in playback singing and I am sure he has gained a lot of confidence and exposure from the show. Even I have been listening to songs since I was a baby and have taken music lessons. In my own small way, I will do my best.
There are times when the situation gets out of hand with heated exchanges between the judges. How do you propose to tackle that?
All the judges on the show are famous and experienced. Bappida is older than my father, Ismail Durbar is my father’s age, Vishal-Shekhar are like my brothers and I consider Himesh my mentor as a music director. So, whenever there are arguments I will let them speak out their mind. There are times, when a mentor is speaking about a contestant belonging to his gharana, he is bound to be a little biased which is understandable. My job is to put their point across to the contestants and the public. But if the judges are unwilling to hold back their opinions, I will try and calm them in my own creative way. I will be balanced and since I myself appreciate good music, I think I will be able to smoothen ruffled feathers.
Are you hoping to get offers from the judges?
Yes, why not?
We have heard you as a child singer. Now, do you sound like your father?
(Laughs) Genetically I am designed to sound like my father but he is the first one to advise me to evolve a style of my own. I wish to sound completely original. My father, as you all know, has been and will always be an original.
How did your father react to your hosting a show?
He is very sweet, he’s always said ‘do what you want but whatever you do, work hard and be good’. If it was any other musical show I wouldn’t have agreed to anchor because in these shows which I don’t want to name, the anchors don’t need to have a knowledge of music and I doubt whether they can even sing.
Your father is the judge on one such show, Indian Idol?
Yes and thank god he is not the anchor. As a judge, I know he will be honest
Rani Mukherjee is too old for me: Aditya Narayan
Up close and personal with Aditya Narayan after he has signed as the anchor of Zee's 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007-Sangeet ka Pratham Vishwa-Yudh'.
Q: How is it feeling hosting Zee 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007-Sangeet ka Pratham Vishwa-Yudh'?
A: It is feeling nice that I have got the opportunity of hosting such a good show. It is not a new show; it has been on television since the past thirteen years now and has done very well.
So when I was approached by the channel, initially I thought about it but I guess there was no need of thinking. I accepted the show even though I was not planning to begin my career before my studies. Also it is a musical based show, and I'm passionate about music.
Q: So that must be adding a greater responsibility on your shoulders as an anchor?
A: Yes it does add a sense of responsibility. Earlier too the anchors were Sonu bhaiya and Shaan bhaiya who did a very good job here on the show. Actually it is a show which does not have any usual anchors.
I'm not pointing my fingers at other anchors, but here the anchors here have been related to music so as an anchor too one can comment on the performance of the participants. But I will try to do my best.
Q: Do you have any prior experience of anchoring?
A: No I do not have any prior experience.
Q: So are you undergoing any kind of homework or training?
A: I have been watching the show for a long time now and so have a bit of cue. Also I have been with the team of Zee where I had been briefed about how to go about it.
I do have an experience of acting but it is different from anchoring. So I do not have to worry when professionals are guiding me. Also I will learn as time passes by.
Q: Tell us a bit about your academic background?
A: I was doing my graduation here but in between I left for London where I did a Diploma in English Contemporary Music. Now I'm in Mumbai for the past three month and willing to complete my graduation. I have also learnt Indian classical music from Satyanarayan Mishra and also took training under Kalyanji Anandji.
Q: Why Diploma in English Contemporary Music? Was it your choice?
A: See I want to know music to the fullest. Not just Indian or classical, I want to learn international music and in truly international way. It was purely my choice; Uditji did not want me to go abroad, but I forced my decision on him.
Q: So what are your future plans?
A: I have a lot planned for future. I want to do good work where I can utilize my capabilities to the fullest. I want to do good work and put in my best efforts in whatever I would do.
Q: Does it include films too?
A: Yes why not. I have acted before and will do films if I get good work which I can identify with. But my first preference would always be music. But I tell you it will not only be in films but also in other aspects. I want to spread my wings.
Q: So how much does Uditji guide you?
A: Frankly speaking, Uditji guides me in only one way. He only reminds me of my roots. He tells me that there is nothing compared to hard work and effort. He tells me that 'power comes with hard work'. That is all that he guides me about.
Q: Does being Udit Narayan's son help you in some way?
A: If I tell you frankly it does help and it doesn't. See if I did not have talent, I would have still managed some work considering that I was Unit Narayan's son. But till when? At some point, they would have known that I do not have the talent. Now since I'm his son, there is more expectation from me. So there is a plus side and a negative side too.
Q: So do people treat you differently since you are his son?
A: Yes they do sometimes.
Q: Coming on a lighter note, now that you are back, have you united with your old friends?
A: Yes I have and I'm happy to be back with them. I'm enjoying my time here with them.
Q: United with girlfriends too. Do you have girlfriends?
A: See it would be wrong if I say that I don't enjoy the company of men (laughs). I'm just 19 so I do have friends who are girls but basically I'm a reserved person and do not have a girlfriend. But see women following makes a person star (laughs again).
Q: Uditji is a judge in Indian Idol and you are the anchor of challenge 2007. Do you think you will be able to attract more eyeballs?
A: (laughs) I hope so. But I also wish the other show success because my father is a part of it.
Q: We have heard that you wish to work with Jiah Khan?
A: (laughs out loud) Actually I was asked as to who I would like to work with and since I'm young so I think that I would look good with Jiah since even she is young. I don't think I would look good with Rani Mukherjee at this age. Moreover she acts well so what is the problem. (SAMPURN)
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