Meet Sarthak Kalyani, the singer who wowed AR Rahman

Singer Sarthak Kalyani has sung tracks for in AR Rahman’s ‘Cobra’ and ‘Iravin Nizhal’

Singer Sarthak Kalyani has sung tracks for AR Rahman’s ‘Cobra’ and ‘Iravin Nizhal’

“This will be the song of the year,” Tamil film lyricist Thamarai announced during the recent audio launch of Vikram-starrer cobra“Listen to it, and you will never realize it’s sung by a non-Tamil.”

The song she was referring to was the AR Rahman-composed ‘Tharangini’ and the singer, Sarthak Kalyani.

For the singer hailing from Indore, who once had to make a tough choice between academics and music, this was a validation amidst some of the best from the musical fraternity. “I’ve been getting great feedback for my two recent Tamil tracks,” says Sarthak, referring to the cobra number and the ‘Kannethire’ song from Parthiban’s Iravin Nizhal,

Sarthak grew up as an academically-oriented student, hardly envisioning the musicians’ life he currently leads. “When I was five, I was humming songs, and my parents enrolled me in music classes,” he recalls. What started as a hobby soon became a passion. “They suggested that I pursue the arts when I wanted to take up academics. Isn’t that the opposite of what usually happens,” he asks, grinning. The competitions Sarthak attended, he adds, weren’t about winning. “It was all about exploring different styles of music,” says the singer, who landed impressive performances in shows like India’s Got Talent and Indian Idol Junior,

Graphic: Joseph Satheesh

Graphic: Joseph Satheesh

Sarthak’s days at the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bhopal, in 2017 were “transformational” as he got a lot of time to devote to music. “I was mostly in a small room; it was only music and me,” recalls Sarthak. There, he would watch YouTube concerts — of musicians like Ustad Rashid Khan and Mehdi Hassan — apart from superhit songs from the Seventies. “I’d sometimes listen to music six hours straight. That, and the intense riyaz I did, helped a lot.”

It certainly did, when he entered the musical reality show ARRived, India’s first YouTube originals. His rendition of ‘Krishna Nee Begane’ and ‘Mitwa’ ( Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna) grabbed the attention of AR Rahman, who gave him a rare standing ovation. “He spoke to me for 15 minutes, asking me about my musical background. It thrilled me,” he says. Soon enough, the Oscar-winning composer called him for a couple of tracks in 99 Songs, A tryst with musicians from various cultures at KM Music Conservatory helped him hone his skills; he fondly recalls classes with Karthick Manickavasagam about the deeper meaning of music.

Currently a regular at Rahman’s studio as a singer and musician, the 22-year-old has his eye firmly set on making it big in the music industry. Apart from learning to play the piano and guitar, Sarthak is also busy releasing originals, targeting atleast one song per month. “Music is like food, and everyone has different tastes,” he says, “Everyone has the ingredients, but it is what you make of it that makes the difference.”

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