Song of life

Shiraz Gidwani Mahesh Bhatt

The story of Aaryan reads like a mainstream Hindi film. A young singing talent spotted by a businessman on YouTube, he was groomed and introduced to the world by dad-daughter filmmaker duo Mahesh and Pooja Bhatt. His first music video attracted five million views in 30 days.

What more could an aspiring singer ask for?

Aaryan was studying engineering at IIT when Shiraz Gidwani found him on the video-sharing platform. He was struggling to strike the right balance between studies and music, but looking at the videos uploaded by Aaryan’s friend, Shiraz asked him for an audience. They first met in Mumbai and since then, Aaryan’s life has never been the same. Today, he sits on a bank of about 150 songs, and writes and composes his own music. In a few months, we might be hearing his compositions all over the place. In conversation with You & I, Aaryan talks about his journey and where he hopes it will lead.

Miracles don’t happen every day. Do you feel lucky?
I feel like God has come down to see me. Though, I may sound overwhelmed, my story is nothing short of a Hindi movie script. I have come so far, from having nothing to achieving so much, and I couldn’t ask for a better life. But I have also worked very hard to get here.

Tell us about your journey.
I come from Indore, and my only aim was to study at IIT and become an engineer. I got hooked onto music and started jamming with some college friends. Praise encouraged me, and I took to singing. Around the same time, my friend recorded a bunch of my videos and posted them on YouTube. One day, he received a well-written message from Shiraz Gidwani asking me to come to Mumbai.

At first, we thought it was a prank, but we later realised that it would be silly to miss an opportunity like this. When we found a picture of this gentleman with Shashi Tharoor and the United Nations in the backdrop, I was surprised, excited and nervous at the same time. I’d never travelled out of Indore, and here I was being asked to come to Mumbai. I lied to my mother and went!
 

Mahesh-Bhatt

Did the trip pay off?
On the decided date, I was waiting for his call. When hours passed with no contact, I went out for a walk, dejected and demoralised, to divert my mind. But something good was looking down on me. I got a call saying that the meeting skipped his mind, asking me to come to the Leela right away. Guitar in one hand and a friend by my side, I rushed to the hotel.

After some time, a BMW pulls up and Shiraz bhaiya comes out. It was the first time I had stepped into a five-star hotel; I didn’t even know what a BMW was. In no time, a rapport grew between us. He was like an older brother and my guiding star. Shiraz bhaiya asked me to finish my studies first and then continue music. I still remember on the day I left Mumbai, I bent down to touch his feet. He stopped me, gave me a hug and said, ‘Call me bhaiya’.

Things changed for me overnight. I feel lucky and blessed, and it’s all because of him.

How did things move from there?
When I met Shiraz bhaiya, I couldn’t even speak proper English, and he told me I could not go into this world like that. That’s when the grooming started. At his insistence, I went to Harvard University and was groomed, and I also found direction. I was professionally trained by Sajid-Wajid’s father Ustad Sharafat Ali Khan for ten months. I learnt so much about sur and taal, and the language within them.

There must have been downs as well.
There was a time when nothing was moving. I felt frustrated and didn’t know what to do or where to go. This was when Shiraz bhaiya asked me to compose my own songs. I was just composing, and there was another person who would write the lyrics. For two years, I virtually locked myself away. I would go to the gym, eat and compose music. Shiraz bhaiya slowly started pushing me to write as well. I created a bank of melodies, but things changed when bhaiya introduced me to his friend Mr. Mahesh Bhatt.

How did that go?
One time, Bhattsaab had come to Dubai to meet bhaiya. I’d composed a number of songs for him, and he patiently listened to all the compositions. Later during a conversation, he said, ‘There’s no soul in these songs’. The entire conversation took place in a car. He said, ‘If you cannot connect with me through your songs, you are not a good singer. And if you are not a good singer, get out of the car now’.
I started crying, and looking at me Bhattsaab started crying. Shiraz bhaiya didn’t know what to do, but he said, ‘If you can cry, you have emotions, so put them in your songs’.

I went home heartbroken. The moment my fingers felt the piano, a song automatically came out. I shared it with Shiraz bhaiya and he said, ‘How did this come to you? It’s definitely one of your best’.
I shared it with Bhattsaab, who said, ‘What happened to you overnight?’ And from that day, he told me to send anything I make him. I am blessed to be able to send all my work straight to his phone. He has called me his ‘special child’. I couldn’t have asked for more.
 
When can we hear your compositions?
Shiraz bhaiya’s first movie will feature my music, and I have several other songs in some other movies. I’ve made a lot of them! Whenever I make something, I take it to these people knowing I will get the right feedback. I have an entire range of demos with me, be it party, Sufi, romantic or hip hop. I’m not confined to a particular genre.

– as told to Rahul