• Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Entertainment

Singer Chirag Rao celebrates Bollywood classics with a new UK tour

 Eastern Eye speaks to the popular live performer to find out more about his journey and the action-packed live show.  

Chirag Rao

By: ASJAD NAZIR

CHIRAG RAO has shown off his impressive range with performances across diverse platforms.

 The talented British singer has added to his musically rich life story with Bollywood Time Machine, which recently started a UK tour that runs through June with shows in Leicester on Saturday (8), Harrow (21 and 28), and Solihull (29). He has teamed up with acclaimed singer Rekha, host Tommy Sandhu and the LEDC Dance Crew at the concerts featuring great Hindi cinema hits from across the decades. 

 Eastern Eye caught up with the popular live performer to find out more about his journey and the action-packed live show.  

How do you reflect on your musical journey?  

Without realising I have been singing for more than 25 years. However, as you continue to develop, you realise more and more how the world of music is an endless ocean of learning. As of right now, I am not yet at the stage where I can reflect on my journey so far, but rather fully focus on what I would like to achieve in the future. 

 How much does live performance mean to you?  

Live performance is everything to me. It’s the litmus test of all the hard work behind the scenes, and when the performance is over, I know what and where I need to focus on as part of my riyaaz. Nothing is more fulfilling than nailing a song and feeding off the energy of a live audience. It’s addictive. 

 What has been your most memorable live show so far?  

The most memorable live show I have been part of was Bombay Superstar, a theatre production by Phizzical. It was my debut acting role. I was able to sing some of Bollywood’s most famous classics as part of the show.  

The one I will treasure most is my tribute show to the legendary Mohammed Rafi Saab, which was a dream project of mine. I performed to a sold out audience but what made it really special was that Rafi Saab’s family was in attendance, as 2024 marks his 100th birth anniversary.  

Which Bollywood songs do you most enjoy singing live? 

 I love Bollywood singing and consider myself a student of this art form from the 60s to present. I love to sing songs of all eras, which is why I am so excited about Bollywood Time Machine. Oh Re Piya, by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Saab is my current favourite! 

 Who is your own personal favourite singer from Bollywood? 

 I am a massive fan of Rafi Saab and Kishore Kumar as they defined Bollywood playback singing as we know it today. We have them as ‘schools of music’ and they have left us a rich library of songs from which we can learn.  

How much has Hindi cinema music shaped you as an artist?  

Light classical and Hindi cinema music are very closely interlinked, so to be able to sing almost any Bollywood song effectively is absolutely necessary to have a solid classical foundation. I practice daily for a minimum of two hours, and have been blessed to be learning from one of the world’s best vocal coaches, the legendary ghazal artist Tauseef Akhtar. Aside from formally training me, he has helped me really focus on poetry and expression, which is the most important element in Hindi cinema music.  

According to you, what is the secret of a great live performance? 

 Having now performed on stage for more than 19 years, I have learnt that the most important aspects of a live show are authenticity of expression and connection with the audience.  

What inspires you as a singer?  

Hearing the amazing legends of Hindi cinema is my biggest source of inspiration. From Rafi Saab, Kishore da and Lata ji to Unit Narayan, Sonu Nigam and Arijit Singh. Each of these singers is truly unique and had/have their own beautiful way of expressing emotions. Striving to be authentic, whilst doing justice to their songs is what inspires me.  

Why should we come to the Bollywood Time Machine concerts?  

Because it’s a show for true Bollywood lovers. An interactive journey through Bollywood with live singing, elite dancers, and the hilarious Tommy Sandhu. Most dates have been selling out super quick, so keep your eyes for the show coming to a town near you very soon.  

Bollywood Time Machine at 2Funky Music Café, 23 New Park Street, Leicester LE3 5NH on Saturday (8); Harrow Arts Centre, 171 Uxbridge Road, Pinner HA5 4EA on June 21 and 28; and The Core Theatre, Homer Road, Solihull B91 3RG on June 29. www.luv entertainment 

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