Fame is something that can possibly overpower one’s sanity. It can make believe that one is powerful and can dictate terms as per their whims and fancies. It is quite possible that five national awards (one of them at the mere age of seven), word of appreciation from the world’s famous artists, and immense fame in teenage years, will be enough to fill their head with hot air. However, one conversation with 27-year-old Ranjeet Rajwada shatters all these misconceptions.
Those of who are not familiar with his name, Ranjeet is known as the Prince of Ghazal, after honourable Mehdi Hassan, who is lovingly addressed as Shahenshah-e-Ghazal. Ranjeet is one of the very few young guns who are the torch bearers for this magical form of music.
Not an easy road
Ranjeet comes from a family of musicians who traditionally played at royal courtrooms for centuries. However, it was his father Mahesh Rajwada who started singing ghazals. Ranjeet and his younger sister, obviously, had music flowing in their blood streams since they were toddlers.
I got harmonium and tabla at a very early age. Those were my toys and playing with musical instruments was encouraged.
When Ranjeet was 13, his father decided to move to Mumbai to help his singing career. However, this decision meant inviting a lot of unpleasant changes, and moving out of their ancestral city Jaipur was one of them.
Leaving behind their own house in Jaipur and shifting to a rented accommodation in Mumbai meant added expense which were hard to meet from Mahesh’s salary, who then worked as a captain with ITC Grant. At such a young age, Ranjeet had realized the monetary burden that fell on his father’s shoulder and decided to chip in every way he could.
“I began taking music lessons to earn some money and help my father. Besides, my own school, and hours of riyaaz (practice), I would teach people who were 30-40 years older than me. This made me strong enough to take on any challenge that life was to throw my way,” says Ranjeet while speaking with KenFolios.
Practice, problems, and progression
Ranjeet now does dozens of international tours every year where thousands of Indians as well as foreigners come to listen to his soothing voice. But such towering fame is the result of his sheer hardwork, discipline, and dedication towards his work. While other children his age would go out in the field and play cricket, Ranjeet would focus on learning Urdu (he learnt Urdu for seven years for deeper understanding of lyrics), and polishing his singing.
My school started late in the morning but it only meant that I had to get up several hours before school and do four hours of riyaaz. It continued even when I got back from school. My father was very strict and made me see the value of hard work and discipline very early in life. — Ranjeet
It wasn’t so easy for Ranjeet to pursue his interest as there were a lot of people who would discourage him from doing so. They would tell the young, enthusiastic kid to take up another form of singing saying that ghazals are not trendy anymore. They told him that nobody listens to ghazals anymore.
Such harsh words are enough to break anyone’s morale but Ranjeet says, believing in oneself and pursuing their heart’s desire can do wonders. I never bothered when people discouraged me and believed that success comes to those who can swim against the current.
Ranjeet’s manager and a good friend Shahbaaz Hashim says, “I have been managing him for around 4-5 years now and have never faced any problems with him. He is a very down-to-earth person who throws no tantrums, and focusses only on his art.”
Making of a legend
When Ranjeet was just seven, he sang in front of Lata Mangeshkar. She complimented his talent by saying, his gayaki is from another era. He has shared a stage with maestro Ghulam Ali, Roop Kumar Rathod, Anup Jalota, Javed Akhtar and many others. He was honoured by APJ Kalam and globally acclaimed AR Rahman at the age of just 13.
He entered the popular reality singing show Saregamapa when he was just 17 and received overwhelming response and appreciation from industry giants like Daler Mehndi, Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani. This year in Poland, Ranjeet performed a full-house where there were no Indians but as they say, music has no language.
A graduate in arts from Wilson College, Mumbai, Ranjeet hardly has more to accomplish, but he politely disagrees. “Bas ab khwahish yahi hai ki khud ghazal ko khushi ho ki koi mujhe gaa raha hai,” he says with an audible smile in his magnificent voice.
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