Sreerama Chandra talks about his roller-coaster journey and what it takes to make a name in the music industry.
From winning Indian Idol to hosting music shows and now acting, Sreerama Chandra has come a long way. In an exclusive interview with Deccan Chronicle, the singer talks about his roller-coaster journey and what it takes to make a name in the music industry.
You started off with a singing show and have never looked back since. How has the journey been?
I started my career with the ETV shows—Okkare and Sye Singers Challenge in Telugu and so far, it's been absolutely fun and amazing. Be it success or failure, everything has been a lesson to me in my life and I have cherished every bit of it thoroughly and hope to enjoy it even more.
Between singing and acting, what satisfies you the most?
I think spending my day well , creatively and constructively is what satisfies me the most. Doing something creative—may be singing, acting, hosting, dancing—everything gives me peace. So I enjoy doing both. Just that acting is for a longer time in the day. Singing is for two to three hours in a day and is a form of meditation for me. Working itself is like meditation to me. I feel I have achieved my purpose when I am working.
You've donned multiple hats. What’s next?
I don't know. I think for now, I would like to do these perfectly for some time and prove myself worthy of them. I've been singing over the years and acting is something new to me. But I would like to go project wise. Whichever project I take up, I would like to justify it just like I did with Papam Pasivadu, whose makers are very happy and satisfied with the output and I'm really looking forward to it. My stint as the television host of Telugu Indian Idol first season was successful. I would like to continue that performance and keep entertaining the audience in whatever way I can.
You have been a participant on Indian Idol. Do you think reality shows really help contestants get noticed?
It definitely helps the contestants get noticed. I am a living example of someone who started off on a reality show in Telugu. It opened up avenues to me, with no background in either film or music. Reality shows provide the exposure and platform required to get somewhere. It’s a place to showcase your talent. These platforms can do wonders if properly utilized. I went and gave my best because I had no other source or support. And people really loved me there and it just picked up, I was just climbing a ladder one step after the other. Winning the show is not the end of it, you have to sing for films and then those songs should become a hit. And then that should churn more work and then you have to keep doing that for a very long time to actually make a career out of it.
How far can talent take you? Do you really think one can break into the industry without contacts?
Absolutely. There are multiple sources to break into the industry. Earlier we would give music directors a demo CD and then meet them. They would listen to you and they reach out to you. But times have changed and not everybody is willing to meet people. Hence going on a singing reality show was an attempt to showcase my talent and see if I could make a career out of it. But if you have the contacts and the talent, then you don't need a reality show to get there. There are a lot of singers who have not gone to reality shows, but have made it big in the music industry.
Is singing a lucrative profession right now?
No. That is because there is no separate industry for music. We are affiliated to the movie industry, where it's all cinema and singers are dependent on the movie industry. In the West, they have a separate music industry where they have Grammys, they have a separate parallel universe where there is original music being made and promoted and received in a certain way. I think as long as that is not happening and the music industry continues to be dependent on Cinema, it is not going to be as fruitful or as fetching. But there are examples like Arijit Singh, a very dear friend of mine, he was also part of a reality show and has done exceptionally well in the film and music industry. I would like India to have a parallel universe for music so that there can be more Arijit Singhs because there are immensely talented people out there. But I think ultimately they have to wait for that one big song, which is going to be part of a movie, which will get them their name and fame and, it is difficult until that happens.
Who are your favorite singers?
Among new age singers, it's definitely Arijit Singh. To talk about the legends, hailing from the Telugu land, I would say Gantasala garu and SP Balasubramaniam sir. In Hindi, it would be Rafi sahib, Lata Mangeshkarji and Mr Kishore Kumar. I really admire, follow and have been a great fan of their work.
You've rendered a lot of songs, several chartbusters at that. Which one is your personal favorite?
In Hindi, it’s Subhan Allah. Having said that, Balma is my first claim to fame for Mr. Akshay Kumar, it was given to me by Himesh Reshamiya ji. I will definitely cherish that for life because that was my first ever super hit song in Bollywood. In recent times, in Telugu, it is O Rendu Prema Meghaalila.
What's on your playlist now?
I listen to a lot of R&B and hip hop. So I have a wide range of songs that I play on the music platforms. I really like Bruno Mars, so I kind of listen to a lot of his music.
What do you have to say about the Korean pop revolution in India?
It's crazy. A lot of youngsters have connected to it. I think it's amazing that the reach is so wide that someone sitting in Vishakhapatnam, who's say, a 12 or 13 years old, is connecting to K pop which is from across the seas. And I would love to work towards making something that big in the Indian music industry as well, where a Telugu song or an Indian song is being heard by people from abroad.
You are a confused character in Aha’s latest comedy series, Papam Pasivadu. Tell us more about the character.
It's a very good character, I should say. I can somewhat relate to that. I think every person can relate to being confused at the beginning of his career or selecting a goal for himself. There are some phases, some milestones in life, some checkpoints when you're really confused about making decisions. And it's somewhat similar to my personal life stories.
You have fans in all age groups. How does it feel?
I'm grateful and thankful to all those people who encourage and support me. I feel very lucky to be given that stature. I would like to keep doing good work and entertaining them to justify this adulation from my fans!