Even though he had no Bollywood connection, Badshah managed to create a name for himself in the film industry with chartbusters such as ‘Saturday Saturday’, ‘Abhi toh party shuru hui hai’, and ‘Baby ko bass pasand hai’, among others. As he returns from a US tour, we speak to the rapper about his love for music, his equation with Yo Yo Honey Singh, and more.
How has your journey been so far?
At one point in time, I wanted to become an IAS officer. For a lot of middle-class people, that is the desired path. Studying engineering, getting an MBA degree and appearing for the UPSC exam is the way to go. So, my father wanted me to become an IAS officer too. But I wanted to pursue music, especially rap, because that is a form of storytelling. This technique interested me. Everything else bored me, and couldn’t hold my interest. I tried doing a nine-to-five job too. But I failed miserably. Plus, I didn’t want to do a job that I wasn’t good at. I worked for a consultancy firm too. But I knew I wasn’t being honest with myself and my job. Hence, I opted for music, which is my true calling.
How did Bollywood music happen?
I finished studying engineering in 2006, and started working with a firm. Side by side, I was writing lyrics for other people. Then I learnt music myself. It was a tough journey to produce a song. But it has been incredible. I was associated with Yo Yo Honey Singh for about four to five years. But people knew there was this guy called Badshah, who is also talented, and in the same zone. In 2012, I released ‘Saturday Saturday’, which became a hit. In 2014, it was used in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. And in the same year, ‘Abhi toh party shuru hui hai’ released. So, 2014 was an important year for me.
What was the response like to your recent US music tour, which also featured Alia
Bhatt and Katrina Kaif, among others?
The response was amazing. I was the only singer-performer in the team. We performed in six cities in North America. We had a lot of fun, and also learnt a lot.
Has filmmaker Karan Johar been instrumental in your career?
Karan sir has played a pivotal role in my life. I respect him. I think we connect on our understanding of the audience. He has a different style of presentation. But at the end of the day, we are both creative, and we understand what people want. Working on ‘Saturday Saturday’, ‘Kar gayi chull’ and ‘Kala chashma’ have been great experiences for me. Also, when my single, ‘DJ wale babu’ released, he was the first one to tweet about the song, and present it to the world. We have an affinity with each other.
Have you ever received any acting offers?
Yes, I have. Initially, I wasn’t thinking about them, but if the money is good, I may subject people to some torture (laughs).
Have you acted before? What kinds of films do you like?
I have acted in school plays. This is the first time I am actually telling someone that I am a good actor. Otherwise, I don’t. I will kill it. I might just receive nominations. I’m not lying (laughs). As a viewer, I am largely interested in the works of Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and Anurag Kashyap.
What about Karan’s films?
I will not be able to fit into that space. I have not lived that kind of life. But if there’s a role for a musician in his film, I would love to try it out. I will be able to play a role that’s more like me. The protagonists in Karan sir’s movies are larger than life. They arrive on choppers. But that’s not me.
There is a perception that you’ve taken over in Bollywood after Yo Yo...
I think it is a cycle. There was someone else before me, and there will be someone else after me. This is a phase. People get bored easily. That is why it is important for an artiste to keep reinventing himself or herself. If you don’t do it, you are gone.
Yo Yo said, “If I am Rolls-Royce, Badshah is Nano (sic).” What do you have to say about that?
I tried to understand his state of mind at that moment, and what provoked him to make such a statement... Is he insecure? Is he losing it? Or is he too confident? Obviously, I am a human being. I get offended, but that’s only for a brief moment. After that I just analyse the person’s state of mind.
Did you enjoy your stint with him?
Yes, I did.
Would you call Yo Yo your friend?
No. May be back in the day, but now I can’t call him a friend. As it is, I don’t have many friends. I just chill with my cousins.