Rahul Pandey is all set to make his Tollywood debut with Hey Akhil in Akhil Akkineni’s debut film Akhil. He is best known for his debut song Haseena Tu Kameena Mai, in the Saif Ali Khan-starrer Happy Ending. He also sang Jab We Met in the Sooraj Pancholi-starrer Hero.
Born in Kolkata, Rahul moved to Mumbai to pursue an MBA, after which he took up a job. But a corporate life — behind a desk — was not what he wanted, as it did not give him time to follow his passion, music. “I worked for two-and-half years before I quit. And yeah, I had to save up before quitting,” he says.
“Then started the struggle. To keep going, I started taking up any odd jobs I got in this field — singing, dubbing, voiceovers etc. In the music industry, if you are good, people will recommend your name. So, I kept giving auditions — some liked my voice, some frowned. But criticism only made me stronger. That was the time when I met Sachin-Jigar, who promised to call me when they had the right song. I waited for months but did not hear from them,” says Rahul.
A year later, in 2014, Sachin-Jigar contacted him for Happy Ending. And later, they offered him a track from Hero.
“When you are a newcomer, not many are ready to experiment with you as they are not sure if the audience will like a new voice. But once a song is out and people start liking your voice, that’s when the industry takes you seriously,” he says.
It was Sachin who recommended Rahul’s name to Anup Rubens for Akhil. “I got a call from Sachin at around 1.30 in the night. He told me that he was with Anup Rubens and that he thought my voice would suit a particular track from the movie. I met Anup, heard the track and loved it. Anup said he was looking for a voice exactly like mine,” he says.
But wasn’t language a barrier? “The language WAS a problem but Anup explained the meaning of every sentence so I could get the emotions right. So he made my work easier. Anup is a perfectionist — he milks you till he gets what he wants,” he says.
Rahul recorded the song around 10 days back in Mumbai and had no idea that it was for a huge Telugu project. With Hey Akhil getting good response now, he says he is open to more projects down South. “I used to visit Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad to perform at events. That’s when I used to hear Telugu songs and though I never understood the language, I always found them catchy. Now at my next gigs, I can sing my own songs,” he says.