His voice has often been compared to the Ghazal King Jagjit Singh Saheb which he accepts very humbly as a compliment, Vipin Aneja the versatile singer boasts of an exciting musical career that began with singing Ghazals to performing live in concert with the magician of the sound AR Rahman Saheb to giving exotic romantic songs for both Tollywood and Bollywood film industry. The virtuoso talks about his musical journey, to his experience while working with the industry wizards to what’s coming up next in an interesting conversation with loudest.in…some excerpts.
Having entertained corporate houses for a span of 20 years, as he is the most loved performer of the national and international corporate honchos and wedding shows. His formative years in music were like how fish takes to water.Born in a musically inclined family Vipin grew up listening to his sister practicing on her harmonium and eventually, he too started singing at an early age in school, later becoming the lead singer in his school choir where he learned some operatic style of singing and voice throw. Vipin eventually decided to receive classical training from Pt.Balmiki Sharma of Rampur seheswan Gharana and Ustad Abdul Aziz Khan of Patiala Gharana in Delhi. While as time passed he got attracted to the renditions of the Ghazal maestros Jagjit Singh Saheb who created a deep and lasting impression on his musicality.
So how did the professional journey began, tells Aneja, “ I went to the US to pursue my graduation and on my return in 1991, it was the time when India was opening up and a lot of international channels like Channel V, MTV came here. Initially, I began performing ghazals in Delhi and eventually got introduced to Shantanu Moitra with whom I began recording jingles. In 1999, I came to Mumbai and I got signed by Magnasound for an album deal wherein, I sang the song ‘Hum Tumhe Chahte Hain’ in the album called clubclass by celebrated DJ Sunny Sarene. I signed my first full album which had contemporary hindi pop, and Ghazal amalgamation with Magnasound ‘Teri Payal’ wherein I sang ‘Aah Ko Chahiye Ek Umr Asar Hone Tak’ which became very popular then. I started performing shows in more of the popular genres and that’s how my commercial journey stared as a singer-performer, which I believe is my true calling.”
Aneja talks about breaking down the boundaries and moving ahead, “I have grown up listening to Jagjit Singh Saheb and had never thought about Bollywood initially, but eventually, I broke the boundaries and tried to explore beyond Ghazals. There came a time when non-film music just stopped, and many music companies had shut. At that time I used to think that my voice was not for Bollywood as I only sang non-film music at that point of time. But in 2010 when I entered the industry I came to know that it was the right time for new voices like us, as people had started exploring them. So after ‘Teri Payal’ I did an album called ‘Salute to Bollywood’ in wherein I explored to do many remixes of the songs like ‘Gulabi Ankhe’ and many Bollywood songs. Eventually, I got introduced to all different forms of music from Western, Rap, Classical and Ghazals and so the whole vision opened for me in terms of exploring different genres.”
Aneja reminisces how he collaborated with Ankit Tiwari gave him a different perspective about his voice, “I feel fortunate to have met Ankit Tiwari who offered me a song in the film Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster’ part- 1 title track ‘Saheb Bada Hatila’.Me and Ankit share a great bonding since the very beginning as we connect very well on music, as he knew his job and took the best out of me at that time in terms of Bollywood. He had a new vision for my voice and recorded 8-10 songs with me. He came to me like a mentor who brought a new tangent and a new perspective to my voice.”
Going little technical Aneja highlights on the importance of voice projection says, “So it’s like a degree of a shift how you treat your voice, and how you render that song. For instance, Ankit made me scan in such a manner wherein there were just straight notes and with a lot of feel. It just needed to be slightly more laid back and not on the beat, which made me sound so different, nothing like any of my previous renditions. He gave me new styles and new techniques to experiment with my voice and I sang many songs for him like ‘Daghabaz Hai Ye Waqt’ for the film Saturday Night, wherein I sound as somebody new. I recently sang for this serial ‘Guddan Tumse Na Ho Payega’ on Zee TV a beautiful composition by Puneet Dixit which is penned by Priyanka Bala. It’s a sad song and depicts pathos completely. I sound very different, so it’s just the projection again wherein the technique is to sing straight notes in power.”
His song ‘Jane Tere Sheher Ka Kya Iraada Hai’ pictured on Irfan Khan and Aishwarya Rai for the film ‘Jazba’ created quite a stir, so how was his experience working on the song, “ So it just happened that I met the music director Arko Pravo Mukherjee over an impromptu jamming session at a friend’s place and he liked my voice and so-called me to record the scratch of this song. After almost a year he called me to tell, that the song has been finalized for the film ‘Jazba’. When I went for the premiere of the film, I got to know that Aishwarya Rai got emotional and cried when she heard the song and hearing my voice Irfan Khan tweeted “ Vipin Aneja has a very soulful voice in ‘Jane Tere Sheher Ka Kya Iraada Hai’, for which I again feel humbled”
So how was the experience working with Arko, “Although Arko himself is a very good singer, he wanted me to sing the song. So I tried to imbibe the style in which he wanted me to sing. What is best about this man is that music directors often have a lot of pressure from the music companies nowadays to take their signed artists, but Arko stood by my side and said that nobody can sing this song better than Vipin, he’s that kind of a man. I am very grateful to believe in me as I received a lot of love for this song from the music fraternity, media, and music lovers, as the song still happens to be on the playlist of people who are the true connoisseurs of music, which is very heart-warming, since this song was made to stay, as he has created such a melody.”
Vipin has had the privilege of working with the magician of his craft AR Rahman himself, as he remembers his first meeting with the maestro, “It was in 2003 when I met Rahman Saheb first at the World Pop Music Festival in Kazakhstan where he was on the panel of international judges to judge participants from 23 countries where I was representing India. He loved my performance and that’s where we connected. Eventually, he invited me to sing for his shows and I performed with him at ‘Unity of Light Peace Concerts’ and opened with Shankar Mahadevan and sang few songs with Sadhana Sargam, Sunidhi Chauhan.”
Recording with AR Rahman Saheb was a destiny’s plan for him, as Aneja says, “ So during the course of my live performances I somehow used to pick Tamil songs and would perform in southern parts of India, so sang the song ‘Tum Hi Ho’ in Telegu, Tamil, Kannada languages. I believe that it was my destiny that had already prepared me beforehand for an opportunity to work with Rahman Saheb as I received a call from him as he wanted me to sing a Tamil song. So when I started working with him, I had some understanding already of the language but to further master the song I sat with him to understand the meaning, pronunciation, and everything, and kept correcting it phonetically till it was perfect. Finally, I recorded the song ‘Simtaangaran’ for the film ‘Sarkar’ in first in Tamil and then a Telegu version. What best he told me was to sing the song with the same power as I would sing a Punjabi song, and so he made me feel very comfortable although it was a very different kind of a song which had two male singers and one female singer.”
Talking about exploring Tollywood, “For me, Tollywood is only Rahman Saheb as yet, as I have not sung for anyone else in that industry other than him. ‘Simtaangaran’ was the biggest launch of my life as there were 20,000 people at the launch of this album by Vijay Thalapathy who’s a very big actor in Tollywood. The song got 90 million hits and got me a very huge fan following there, as they released the lyrical version first which had 45 million and then the video was released later which was another 45 million last year.”
Talking about how the digital age has helped performers and him in particular, “I see that there is a huge ocean of opportunities which has opened up for all the independent artists, wherein we can release a lot of our original stuff on Youtube and other digital streaming platforms, and especially for the new budding artists who don’t need to depend on music companies.For artists like me who want to sing something different that we can’t sing in the films digital gives us that platform and reach our audience I have released a couple of my independent songs like ‘Mureed’, ‘Dil ye masson hai’ released by times music, ‘Teriyan Mohabbatan’ and then ‘Ankhiya’ my first ever Punjabi song which was released by T series on their digital platforms. Also, many artists today have become influencers today using digital to such an optimal level that they have become celebrities. They are famous and are making money and they are primarily the newer generation. There are very few in our generation who have made it big on the digital platforms, it’s mostly the millennials. ”
Being on the panel of the grand jury for ZEE SaReGaMaPa for the last 4 seasons Aneja gives his perspective on the reality shows and how they are helping the aspiring young talents, “Every year a new reality show churns out, I feel that these reality shows are momentary since a singer’s journey is very short, since after the initial 5-6 months which is just the reality show buzz, they are like anyone of us and have to find their own path to move forward in the musical journey. The only benefit after the show is that they become popular and get many followers, so when they put out some new music, they get the viewership. Also if they get a playback break while being on the show, it could be a major benefit. But, unfortunately, there are so many winners who now are lost in oblivion.”
“My message to today’s youngsters is that in our time we have never been on any reality shows and have carved our own path as it is an ongoing process and a tough road ahead. So it’s important to constantly enrich our knowledge, and do our Riyaz. With this paradigm shift of the music industry which is evolving so much, there should be one thing constant of who you are as an artist and it’s important to maintain your own identity and a style as an artist,” adds Aneja.
Talking about his future plans Aneja says, “After the song ‘Jaane Tere Sheher Ka’, I did a lot of live gigs which would have a lot of Ghazals. So alongside my commercial and Bollywood projects, I would like to sing new age Ghazals, which everyone loves in my voice. I will be creating a lot of covers of Jagjitji’s compositions and many more to explore the genre since my idea is to get that streamlined audience who really listens to it.”
Aneja concluded by telling what’s coming up next,“ I have sung a song in the soon to be released film Desi Magic, apart from which a few film and non-film projects are in pipeline.I have just come up with my rendition of the song ‘Tum Hi Aana’ from Marjaavaan, which is composed by Payal Dev and written by Kuunal Verma, just released on my YouTube Channel.”