Published in Star of Mysore: Jan 23, 2015
Should you have a backup plan for your dreams? I wonder as I manoeuvre my way towards the make shift interview room, through the fans who have gathered in huge numbers to click selfies with Benny Dayal, one of Bollywood’s singing sensations. The versatile musician was in Mysore recently to perform at SPI’s 20th anniversary celebrations. “There was no question of a backup plan as failure was never an option. I had wanted to be a singer since I was a thirteen years old child. I had decided that I would want to sing until I die,” says Benny Dayal candidly, when I meet him after his rocking performance. He still has ample energy to answer volley of questions.
SOM: I just watched your show. You have unbounded energy on stage. What drives you?
BD: I am mad when I am on stage, but I am a very different and quiet person off stage. I become another human being when I am on stage. Just the feel to be on stage and singing in front of the audience gives me energy. Mad people are the most energetic; one needs to be mad to be a musician. Music or for any art for that matter is a gift from God. Does God gift the entire world to be a musician? No. Therefore, if you are the chosen one, you need to make use of this gift to your optimum potential.
SOM: What challenges did you face to reach where you are today?
BD: It was the most difficult to get a break, as no one was willing to take a risk with a new artist. No one wanted to launch me but God has a plan for everyone and I am here today. And then I met Mr A.R. Rahman whom I had no intention of meeting or even expected to meet. Today I owe my success to Mr Rahman. He broke all barriers. He is renowned for giving opportunities to new and unheard voices. Today, the youngsters want to become musicians only because of him.
SOM: Once a music director told you that you can’t become a singer; how did that affect you? Did you want to prove him wrong?
BD: Music is not about proving a point. I didn’t want to prove anyone wrong but this triggered the worst possible emotion in me. It never crushed me. Unknowingly I took the positives out of it; I wanted to bring out the best in me. Everything has equal and opposite reaction. I thank everyone who has ever said anything positive or negative about me; it helped me to go a step further in my journey. Every single line has affected me positively.
SOM: Which is your favourite song?
BD: I have no favourites. I love to sing all songs. They all are stepping-stones, how can I skip one and go to the next one?
SOM: Which is your favourite language as far as singing is concerned?
BD: I have a flair for languages; I can sing in any language – Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
SOM: Do you have any role models or inspiration?
BD: Mr Rahman is my role model and inspiration. He is not only one of world’s most accomplished musicians but also an amazing human being. He has launched the music career of so many like me. May his tribe grow!
SOM: You have performed at various countries; which is your most memorable performance?
BD: Yes, one performance was like a dream come true. In 1998, I went to watch Mr Rahman’s concert in Dubai UAE. Ten years later, in 2008, in Dubai again, I was with him back stage and performing with him. It was an amazing feeling. It was like seeing a dream come true.
SOM: What advice would you like to give to wannabe singers or to anyone who want to follow their passion?
BD: Do what makes you happy, you will surely excel. Never stop learning – never think that you know enough. Learn as you earn. Never stop earning and never stop learning. That is the only way to go forward. Have an open mind and passion for anything that you do. Most importantly, observe others. You may not like one particular song but if many people like it so there must be something in that. Don’t have a closed mind. Everyone has a path; you will also find yours sooner or later.
Then he reads out aloud the back page blurb from ‘The Other End of the Corridor’, my debut novel that I presented to him after the interview – ‘when your dreams are tainted with lies and deceit, you have no other choice but to walk to the other end of the corridor….’
He speaks after a long pause, “Everyone has a path. Literally, my life was like a dark corridor, there was only darkness; I was crazy and continued to walk on. I didn’t care even if I tripped but I wanted to just go on, and then a door opened and God said, now you walk on this path.”
The singing star signs off.