Singing sensation: Former Abu Dhabi school boy makes it big in Bollywood
A former Abu Dhabi school boy is the voice behind a Bollywood chartbuster that has got over 20 million YouTube hits since its video release on April 5.
Meet Indian singing sensation Benny Dayal, who has taken the music industry by storm with the song Battameez Dil from Hindi film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani that hits UAE theatres this Thursday.
Born and raised in the capital, Benny was initiated into music by his mother, but it was at the Abu Dhabi Indian School (ADIS) that he learnt the nuances of singing. The talent shows hosted at the school helped him hone his vocal skills and gave him the confidence perform in front of an audience.
“Those early years of learning were very vital as they put me on the right path. I knew early in life that I would grow up to be a singer. But my dad was a bit sceptical as he wasn’t sure where singing would lead me,” Dayal told XPRESS.
Today, the 29-year-old ranks among Bollywood’s most sought-after singers, having lent his voice to hit numbers like Pappu Can’t Dance Sala (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, 2008), Mashallah (Ek Tha Tiger, 2012), Dum Dum Mast Hai (Band Baaja Barat 2010), Choomantar (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan 2011), Aadat Se Majboor (Ladies vs. Ricky Behl 2011), Lat Lag Gayi (Race2 2013).
He also sings in other Indian regional languages like Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali and others. He has sung duets with Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan and worked with several leading composers like Salim-Sulaiman, Vishal Shekhar, Pritam Himesh Reshammiya and of course A.R. Rahman, to name a few.
So how did this boy from the Gulf become a hit in the Indian film music industry? Dayal said he got his lucky break when a member of music director A.R. Rahman’s team noticed him during a college fest in Chennai in 2005 where he relocated after finishing school in Abu Dhabi.
“It was the turning point of my career. A few days later, I got a call from Rahman’s office and was given the Godsend opportunity to sing alongside S.P. Balasubramaniam and A.R. Reihana for the upcoming Tamil movie Sivaji, starring superstar Rajnikant. I couldn’t believe my luck,” he said.
When Sivaji released, the song Balleilakka became a roaring hit and Dayal became a star overnight.“I had faith in my dream and kept it alive even during my struggles. My advice to budding artistes would be to never give up. If you have it in you, sooner or later someone will notice you.”
Deepa Miriam, an accomplished singer in her own right and one of Dayal’s close friends from his days in Abu Dhabi, recalled how he would participate in every music competition held in schools and cultural clubs those days.
“He’d walk away with many prizes. It’s great to see him do so well,” she said.
Benny’s former school Principal, Vijay Mathu, (now Advisor to the Board of Governors for Abu Dhabi Indian School) said Dayal stood out during talent shows at school. “It’s heartening to see he has not let success go to his head. He visited the school a few months back and met with his former teachers. It was very touching,” he said.
Dayal said he is thankful for all those people who stood behind him. “It has been an amazing journey. I feel blessed to have been accepted in the movie industry and given the chance to work with such great music directors. A lot of talent is emerging through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud these days. The platform to showcase your talent is much wider today. Keep posting your works on these sites and you never know when things could turn for you.”