Born in Silchar, Assam, Debojit Saha came to Mumbai three years ago to pursue a career in singing. The 29-year old, who is a civil engineer and works in the Public Works Department, is now the apple of the nation's eye. He seems set to win Zee TV's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge in tonight's finals.
The only reason he is in Mumbai, he says, is his wife. On the eve of the grand finale, he speaks to Patcy N about his passion for music, his experiences at the contest and more.
"I have two elder brothers and sisters. My mother, who dreamt of me becoming a singer, is no more. When I was in class six, I was interested in drawing. But, whenever I had to draw, I needed music in the background. I don't know when I lost interest in drawing and music became my passion. After school, I began doing local shows. I auditioned for radio and television and was selected.
As I am Bengali, I am inspired by Rabindra sangeet. I have learnt a lot from old Hindi songs too. I am a big fan of Kishoreda (Kumar) and always sing his songs. My favourite song, however, is Ai Zindagi Gale Laga Le from Sadma, sung by Suresh Wadkar. Listening to them all, I have formed my own style.
I married Bandana Paul three years ago. She insisted that we settle in Mumbai. My wife is a fashion designer and, before we were married, she worked in Delhi while I was in Assam. It was a love marriage. We connected with each other because of music. We met at a function and started going to each other's houses. Though there was nothing between us when we met, we gradually started liking each other. My wife is a classical singer too, and she liked my singing.
I proposed to her in 2001. After marriage, everything in my life changed. I never thought I would leave my government job and come to Mumbai ever. But my wife was ambitious and always thought of coming and making it big here. After our marriage, she forgot her career and started taking an interest in mine. We left Assam and came to Mumbai. We had to struggle a lot for the first six months, until she got a job.
It has been almost three and half years since I came here. I tried searching for a job too, but my wife told me that doing anything apart from singing made no sense as we had left everything to come to Mumbai. So, getting a singing assignment was a one-point program. She was very supportive. After my parents, if there is anyone who has changed and influenced my life, it is Bandana.
I started working with Pritam Chakraborty as his assistant. I joined him to learn the ways of the industry. I got offers to sing for serials like Kyun Hota Hai Pyar, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Bhabhi and Saath Phere Saloni Ka Safar. I also sang a scratch of a song for Pritam (sung before the lyrics and tune are finalised). It was for a movie called Sayaad that was never made.
My music guru in Mumbai, Askaran Sharma, insisted I take part in all competitions. I never participated because I thought I couldn't sing in any competition. I come from a very small town and was scared to face huge crowds.
For the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005, we were all staying in a bungalow in Jogeshwari. But as I had a house close by, I would sometimes go home. I am a bit of an introvert and don't speak much. At the same time, I am friendly with everyone. I was very close to Nihira and Paresh.
Ismail Durbar and I got very emotional the day he tied a gaanda (the thread tied around a student's wrist by his teacher) on my hand. But I was still not that free with him. I was very scared of him. As the number of contestants decreased, we started getting closer. He also started feeling confident about me. I started going to his house very often. He scolds trained singers when they make mistake and we were just amateurs in front of him. He is an instrumentalist. And they are very sharp. Even if we were to make the slightest mistake, he would catch it and yell at us. He was very adamant that we work well.
I remember the day I sang Humma from the film Bombay. He came and kissed me because it was a big change in my singing style. After that, I sang all kinds of songs by all kinds of singers.
Sa Re Ga Ma was a very educative journey for me. I have learnt a lot -- how to appear on stage, choreography, how to face the media. When I was pulled in this ULFA controversy, I was not that upset. But when my fellow contestants walked out, I felt very bad because I had always treated them like brothers and sisters. But I have forgiven them all.
I don't believe in winning or losing. All the finalists were good. We got tremendous support from the audience. Now, we are above winning or losing. I would say my audience's love is more important to me than winning or losing.
I loved my stage performance in Kolkata, which I did recently. Not because I am a Bengali, but because it is a musical city. I never thought I would be so well received in Delhi.
I have received mail from supporters around the world, but I still don't feel like a star. I don't want that feeling to ever come to me. I have always been a common man and would like to stay that way. I have not changed at all. The only thing is I get too many calls and people have started recognising me. I still dress the same way and eat the same food. I have started travelling by car more though. Earlier, it was by bus or train.
Yesterday, I travelled by train and it was a great feeling I had to go to Vikram Phadnis' showroom for a costume trial and I was getting late so I went by train. Half the crowd went mad seeing me. Some couldn't believe it was me. Others wanted me to speak on their cell phones to their brothers, mothers, sisters and fiancés. It was great. I always want to be among the common people. I don't want to stay alone all by myself.
I have recently sung a song for Ismail Durbar. I have also got a song from Pritam Chakraborty. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has also told me to sing a song for his next movie. Subhash Ghai liked my voice, so I might get an offer from him. I have also got lots of offers from Kolkata and Assam, for private albums and films.