Badshah on his debut album ONE, Bollywood aspirations and why Sunidhi Chauhan is India's Beyonce
Badshah explains why he dropped the idea of his maiden album, Original Never Ends (ONE), having 30 songs. 'I didn't want them to know so much of me,' he says.
Three years ago, Badshah's 'DJ Wale Babu' feat Aastha Gill released and took the internet by storm. It was the first track from the rapper's maiden album ONE (Original Never Ends). It was a fun number with an irresistible beat, and set the ball rolling for an album that fares beyond just another set of club numbers. To Badshah, it is his most personal work yet. From the self-aggrandizing 'Ill.I.Am' to the rather sensitive 'Heartless', the robust album reflects the diverse moods and phases that he experienced over the years in the process of putting the album together.
The reason behind the delay, as he admits, cannot be attributed to his packed schedule (since a mainstream Bollywood film is incomplete without a dash of Badshah) as much as to his hesitation in exposing 'too much' of himself to his audience. The 17 songs of the recently album, though under the guise of the signature Badshah coolth, speak volumes of his brand, and the man that lies beneath once the surface is skimmed.
For example, 'Heartless' explores a softer side of the rapper that got buried under the weight of playing to his larger than life image. Directed by Gurudas Maan's son Gurrick G Maan, the video visits the relationship Badshah shares with a little girl who wants to have a glimpse of him as she wades through her final days. But 'Heartless' originated from a completely different space. "I wrote it in college when I was in a long distance relationship. But when Gurrick narrated his idea to me, I was completely blown away. I did not even tweak the lyrics for the song to be in coherence with the eventual video,"says Badshah, in an exclusive interview to Firstpost. He is grateful to Gurrick, who took a song dedicated to his former romantic interest, and turned into a heartbreaking ode to the special relationship between a celebrity and his fan.
Badshah admits he may not carry his heart on his Balenciaga sleeve but assures he is much more than the riches he proudly flaunts. "I love brands. Since my lyrics are a reflection of my personality, these brand names automatically creep into my songs. It is not that I want my songs to be aspirational but they merely reflect the person I am," says Badhshah. As Gill croons in one his songs 'Nain', "Kitne hi aa gaye aashiq mere Nike ke neeche", Badshah ensures that he gets rejected in style as well.
One of his songs also brings to the fore another aspiration, to star in a Bollywood film. "Koi badi baat nahi jo dikh jau mai tumhe kisi aane wali Bollywood movie ke scene mei," he hints in 'Ill.I.Am'. But he claims he is still in search of an ideal launching pad. Karan Johar offered him two roles in the past but both did not materialise. He was offered Vicky Kaushal's role in Johar's short film in the recent Netflix anthology Lust Stories, but he says it "was not his kind of role". The filmmaker also offered him a role in Good News, co-starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kiara Advani. "I did not reject the role in Good News. It just did not make it to me and went to Diljt Dosanjh as he is a far better actor than me," clarifies Badshah, all praise for his 'Proper Patola' partner in crime.
Given his popularity and trademark style quotient, the big screen cannot evade him for long.
But he is not yet ready to lend the nitty gritties of his life to a filmmaker who wants to make a biopic on him or document his meteoric rise. As Zoya Akhtar gears up for the release of Gully Boy, a Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt-starrer based on Mumbai street rapper DIVINE's life, Badshah is happy enjoying his 15 minutes of fame dancing on hits like 'Tareefan' and 'Aao Kabhi Haveli Pe' with the prettiest leading ladies in business. But he feels far more indebted to the the three co-singers who took his debut album several notches higher.
"Sunidhi (Chauhan) ma'am can do anything, irrespective of the genre. In my mind, she is the Indian Beyonce. She is the queen," says Badshah, on her fellow singer of 'Aashiq Awaara'. "Aastha Gill is very raw. She has got the innocence in her voice. Aastha is like family," says Badshah, appreciating the young vocalist who has rendered three hits in his album, 'DJ Wale Babu', 'Heartless' and 'Light Band Kar Do'. There is also Lisa Mishra, who recently sung a softer, unplugged version of Badshah's Veere Di Wedding song, 'Tareefan'. "She is a fantastic talent. She brings that Western element to my album. She was also extremely cooperative and recorded, and re-recorded, even in the middle of the night," says Badshah.
As his 17-track album hits the charts, he believes he took the right decision of not stretching it to 30 songs. "I want to see how the songs are received first. Then I'll decide how much of me I want to put in the songs I release later, whether I can show all my cards or save some for myself," he says, signing off.
Listen to the entire album here.
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