Singer-turned-actor Sreeram Chandra gained popularity as the first singer from the south to grab the title of 'Indian idol'. Hyderabad based Sreeram, despite tasting success in the show, says he is trying to find his space in Bollywood but is also disappointed with the Telugu film industry.
In an interview to The News Minute, Sreeram speaks about his career graph and also shares his views on the reality show. Excerpts.
It has been five years since you won the title. How has life been since?
I think I have confirmed my birth as a singer in the film industry. I have sung in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil, and my songs are well known. I have sung a few Tamil songs for well-known composers which will be out in January. So far, it is going good as a playback singer.
Indian Idol gave me a platform at a point in my life when I was confused about my career. I was in my third year of engineering when I participated in the show and it gave me a wonderful opportunity.
Winning Indian idol was no doubt a big challenge, but what are the challenges you faced after the victory?
Yes, it was a big challenge after the victory, but it’s not that I haven't done anything so far. I have sung few songs in each language, but it is not easy to grab projects in any industry.
If you would have asked this same question a few years back when I won the title, I would have said that I would record at least 500 songs within the next five years, but I've only recorded 70 to 100 songs till now. It is a big challenge to survive here. I'm really disappointed by Tollywood. I would have been happier if I would have got more songs from the Telugu industry.
In fact, I was supposed to sing for Baahubali's Hindi version but they replaced me at the last moment. A similar thing happened with other movies like 'Rabhasa' and 'Subramaniam for Sale', so I am disappointed with Tollywood.
What kind of pressure are you facing to survive in the industry?
Survival is definitely a challenge, and singers from a reality show come with an expiry date of two years to prove themselves, failing which they vanish. Thankfully, I have managed to survive and enjoyed the first two years of my career in Bollywood.
Has chances of contestants to carve a professional space lessened or increased after such shows came into existence?
It has increased in a way, because it gives talented people a platform, but there are also the large majority that struggle. I am among the top three contestants of Indian idol who managed to make a mark in Bollywood and I am very happy that I am recognized as a singer.
It would have been really difficult to survive in Tollywood as there are no opportunities, and it is too hero-centric.
Do you believe that the format of the shows needs to change or that there is a need to reinvent them?
I think if they are planning to launch the next season, they should definitely change the format. I think mine was the last season where people were interested in watching the show, and since then it has become monotonous for people. They should try to do something new and unique but also maintain the standard at the same time.
Who would you say is the real Indian Idol or any reality show's biggest success story?
So far it has been singer Shreya Goshal and Sunidhi Chauhan. They also entered the industry with popular reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. Sunidhi Chauhan was a winner in a reality show judged by Lata Mangeshkar.
Even singer Arijit came through a reality show called Fame-Gurukul which was a popular show on Sony.
How did you bag your first Bollywood project?
My first Bollywood project was a promise from Yashraj films which was a part of my contract at Indian idol. Later, I sang a few more songs for Yashraj films in 'Mere brother Ki Dulhan'.
After that, I sung 'Balma' which was a big hit and only happened because of Himesh Reshamiya ji as he asked me if I would be interested after listening to my voice in a show. Luckily 'Balma' was a big hit.
I would like to give credit to Himesh ji for giving me a big hit in Bollywood and I also thank Preetam ji for giving me song in 'Ye Jawani Hai Deewani', and also Yashraj films for giving me my debut.
You have already sung a few songs in Bollywood, but what is your dream project?
Every December, I look back and I am happy if I'm able to sing at least 20 to 30 songs a year. I don't have a dream project as such now, but singing more songs in a year would be a start.
You worked for Tollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood so which one is your favourite?
I would say Bollywood and the Tamil industry are my favourite, as they have a different quality of music and they are serious in whatever they make. Music standards are really high.
I would also say I enjoy Tollywood, but being a Telugu-native it is easier for me to record a Telugu song.
I enjoy the work of Telugu music composer Devi Sri Prasad (DSP) and also Mickey J Meyer.
Many singers including you have also tried acting, but not all have succeeded. What is your take on this? Do you have plans to continue acting?
I would definitely love to do more acting projects. My first movie was good as I was playing a very important role in the movie of a 'Maharaja' (King) and I got a lot of appreciation for my role. This film is known only to a few people as it is not that easy for newcomers. The output was really good and people who watched it really liked the movie.
I feel Tollywood doesn't give opportunities to newcomers and yes, you have to deal with it. The actor in me is always open for such opportunities.