The boy who stole hearts with his floppy hair, sweet smile, and lilting voice on Indian Idol 3 is no longer shy to speak his mind. In an exclusive interview, he spills all about life after Idol, his 'relationship' with fellow contestant Deepali and his role as host—cum—confidant.
How does it feel, being on the other side?
Last year [on Indian Idol3] was great, but there was so much going on. Sometimes I was scared, sometimes I was psyched, sometimes I was worried. There was always this feeling that I had to give my best, but what if that best didn't come? Despite the anchors and the judges being there for us and giving us the best advice they could, the pressure was on.
This year, however, I am used to most of the things and I also don't I have the tension. Of course, when I have to sing, like I sang today, I give it my best… though there is no one to give me bad comments. [Laughs]
Hosting is also a challenge, especially with such an experienced anchor like Hussain. I have to make sure that we connect—that there is no mismatch. There is also added responsibility for me because I am with the contestants before they come on to the stage to sing. That is when they are the most nervous and I have to help them cope with the tension.
How was the experience during auditions?
The experience during auditions was great. But since it was so widespread, with so many people, we [Deepali and Chang] were not able to react or respond to people individually. Though we tried our best, I am we missed out on a lot of people.
Didn't you want to try your luck auditioning for Indian Idol one more time?
I believe that not getting to the Top 5 and not winning the title actually worked in my favour. Because if I had won the title, then I wouldn't have been able to do what I am doing now.
Your 'relationship' with Deepali started with a rose. Though you denied being anything but friends during Indian Idol 3, did your relationship take a different turn after the show came to an end?
There was really nothing between us… it was all part of the show. But I guess it did help in a way because at that time Deepali was one of the lesser noticed contestants and that incident gave her a lot of mileage. And it is also because of the rose that Sony decided to bring us back.
How was it working with Deepali? How did you complement each other?
It was very nice. Even after Indian Idol 3, our entire batch has kept in touch. Most of us also live in the same area in Mumbai. The bond with Deeplai has also been strong because we come from the same area—Jharkhand and Bihar. The bond has worked and the people have loved us. We are definitely coming back to host Ru Ba Ru together.
Are you still working as a dentist?
No, not right now. [Laughs] Initially, I quite naively thought that one year down the line (which is now) I could split my life in two—do shows in the morning and go back to my practise in the afternoon. But I soon realised this was impossible. Dentistry has a fixed schedule, while in this industry we can never predict when we will be called or when we can leave a shoot. However, someday I would like to go back to dentistry and do a course in the US.
What was life like after Indian Idol 3 came to an end?
There were a lot of questions in my mind when Indian Idol 3 came to an end—where would I be in a year's time? But I think it is also about luck and hard work. I got a contract from Sony BMG—for a band with Parleen, Abhishek and me called F4. It was really great.
Did you get any offers to sing? I didn't get any playback offers, but I did get some offers to sing jingles. 9x and Disney also approached me—one was as a participant, while the other was as an anchor—cum—singer. I was really interested in the Disney offer because it was unchartered territory for me… and there was also the added attraction of all those cartoon characters. But both clashed with Indian Idol so I had to decline them.
What are your plans now? I want to explore new things. I have already acted in a film by Arindam Mitra called The Seventeens. That's made me realise that I want to be an actor. As The Seventeens is a smart budget, festival—like film, I don't know how much of a future it will have—but it has inspired me to look at acting more seriously. So I guess I will be concentrating on singing, anchoring and acting from now on.
A male or a female idol? Which do you think we'll have this time?
I think the chances are more for a female idol. But then again we should not look at it like boys must win or girls must win. Whoever has the best potential must win.