For someone who has had no formal training in music and faces the linguistic barrier of not knowing Hindi, winning the Indian Idol title on national television is proof that passion and hard work can achieve just about anything. LV Revanth Kumar, the Vizag boy who was crowned the Indian Idol shares his story with Yo! Vizag.
Driven by passion
Born and brought up in Srikakulam, Revnath’s family shifted to Vizag when he was still studying in school. Growing up in a typical traditional joint family, LV Revanth Kumar was driven by music. In spite of having no formal training as a child or no musical background in his family, he took part in singing competitions right since his fourth form.
“I do not have a musical background, and am not a trained classical singer. In primary school, we were taught the Vedas and the Bhagavat Gita. In my opinion, the advantages in my favour were my voice, family backing, good fortune, and, I believe, chanting of the Vedas that I did in my early school days. My ‘music school’ was the many competitions that I took part in. Irrespective of whether I won a prize or not, I always participated.”
Wherever I went, I let my singing and my voice prove my worth.
Keen to prove his mettle, he took part in television reality shows like Sapta Swaralu and Super Singer. Being the winner of Super Singer opened avenues for him in the southern cine world. “The first song I sang as a playback singer was for the movie Maryada Ramana which was followed by Badrinath, Rajanna and many more. MM Keervani Garu offered me many opportunities.”
He attended Intermediate at the Dr VS Krishna College. That is when he seriously committed himself to making a career in music; he took part in many competitions including State-level singing contests. Acknowledging that his family was his strength he says, “Throughout, my family was very supportive. They had once asked me whether I wanted to sing or study; ‘sing’ I had answered. And accordingly, they encouraged me to pursue my dream. In fact, when the dates of an intermediate exam paper to be written in Vizag clashed with a singing competition in Chennai, the elders in my family advised me to sing rather than write the exam. Their view was that exams could be written even next year. If I am a singing success today, it is all thanks to the support I received from them.”
But childhood was not a cakewalk for the young singer, “I lost my father even before I was born”, he reveals. Though he never knew his father, he was brought up in a large joint family of six maternal uncles, maternal grandparents, his mother and elder brother. “No matter what I achieve, I can never forget my roots. I know the value of money, I know the value of a person and I know the value of hard-work”, says the National-level winner.
The Rockstar Tag
Even before he wowed the audiences on the show, LV Revanth had garnered quite a fan-base as a singer and performer. Impressed by his style on stage, he was often called a ‘Rockstar’. Explaining the tag he says, “Singing and performing are two different aspects. And, singing and performing at the same time during live shows, is quite difficult. I took it up as a challenge; as I concentrated on singing well, I also worked on my presentation, and developed my own style of performing on stage.”
My performance style was so well received, that people started calling me a Rockstar.
The Indian Idol gambit
Citing his reasons for entering the Indian Idol competition he says, “After a lot of struggle and requests to dozens of people, I managed to get singing gigs in Hyderabad and south cinema, but I was frustrated by the lack of opportunities in the South.”
I realised if I wanted to make it big, I needed to make my voice heard in Bollywood.
“Hence, I resolved to learn singing equally well in Hindi, and make a mark on the National stage. That’s when I decided to participate in the Indian Idol competition.”
His main drawback was his lack of fluency in Hindi, but he was determined to at least give it a shot. “My reasoning was that if I succeed, then there would be no turning back. And if I did not win, at least I would have reached a certain level which would open more opportunities for me. Ironically, when people tried to dissuade me saying that I couldn’t even understand Hindi, I became all the more determined; it was that anger which actually propelled me forward and prove all my detractors wrong. I wanted to gain a foothold in Bollywood, even if it meant risking it all”, he says describing the turmoil he felt before he flew to Mumbai.
Truly accepting that music transcends all, he says, “Since childhood I have always believed that for music there is no language; for language, there is no barrier. You do not need to know the language to sing in that language. In fact, during the auditions itself I announced that I do not know Hindi, but I was aiming for Bollywood! It was that positivity which impressed the selection team. I did have doubts about my ability to sing in Hindi, but once I would take the mike in my hand, all those doubts would just melt away and my voice would take over.”
Before leaving for Mumbai he candidly says that his mother advised him to be unassuming. “Do not go there as a mini-celebrity, a south-Indian playback singer or a Rockstar; leave all your attitudes in Hyderabad and leave for Mumbai as a simple contestant, you will definitely get selected, she had advised me. Accordingly, only after I passed the selection stage did I reveal that I was a playback singer. Even then, the whole team there gave me a lot of support and help. The music masters, Anant and Anand Sharma too were very helpful and taught me very well, they even helped me with diction, ensuring that every song was perfect. As I crossed each stage and rose to the next level, I always wondered, was my singing really good or was it my performance style that was helping me advance? I was assailed with doubts regarding my singing at every stage, and tried to improve my singing with each song.”
In fact, the supposed ‘style’ that many people appreciated was never an act; it’s the way I am. It is my identity and the way I perform.
He goes on to describe the apprehension he had before the competition; “As a south-based singer taking part in a national level singing competition, I made sure not to miss any opportunity to develop myself right from day one. Before every song, I would tell myself that ‘This was my first and last performance, I have to rock!’ and after every round, I would target just the next level. Anu Malik and Farah Khan gave me a lot of moral support and encouraged me throughout the competition. Just as Lord Hanuman, my favourite deity, becomes better every time he is encouraged, I believe I could also do better every time they boosted my morale. But what I truly cherished about the show, was the fact that since the first day till the finals, I had the opportunity to dance and interact with every celebrity that came on the show.”
Still getting used to being the National-level Indian Idol, LV Revanth confesses that the highpoint was when his mother and brother were recognised and acknowledged. Attributing his win to many factors he articulates, “I believe it was my apprehension, humility and sincerity that kept me grounded, and helped me in the end. Armed with my faulty language skills, my style of presentation, my performance and my singing, I am happy that I could win over the judges and the audience alike. Though in my personal opinion, all those who reached the finals were winners. If I won today, it is all thanks to the votes I received, my hard work, the support and blessings I received from my family… and above all, the media.”
Grateful to many!
Messages from the many celebrities, politicians and dignitaries, both from Andhra and Telangana was very gratifying for the Telugu lad. Expressing his gratitude, he says, “People from different aspects of society encouraged me. I am very grateful to each and every one who supported me, and specially I want to express my gratitude to the many music directors from the Telugu cine industry, who gave me opportunities and helped me improve my singing. I owe a lot to Shri M. M. Keeravani as he moulded me and taught me a great deal. I am also thankful to Ashirwad Luke from Vizag for his tips and advice whenever I visited his studios for recordings.”
Nostalgic about Vizag
When asked about Vizag, his voice raised a notch higher with excitement, “I love Visakhapatnam, I love my Vizag. Presently my mother and brother are living with me in Hyderabad, but all my relatives and grandparents are still in Vizag, so I do keep visiting the city. The city is full of sweet memories; it is where my singing actually took off. I also sang in many temples in the city,” he professed. Calling the city an artist’s haven, he says that the people in Vizag are very encouraging. His future plans regarding the city include starting a musical school here.
Bollywood and future aspirations
Currently inundated with offers, even from Bollywood, he says that even during the show he was invited to sing for television show, ‘Sabse Bada Kalakar’. Keeping in mind the struggles he faced, he intends to assist others achieve their musical dreams via an easier path. Towards this, he plans to set up something along the lines of a music academy in the future. He strongly believes in returning to society, and confesses that he has always donated to charities, and that is something he would always continue to do. For instance, 10% of the prize money that he received is earmarked for charity, he reveals. Speaking about the future he simply says, “My only hope after all this is that I do not ever forget my roots, my struggles and my hard work. I want to remain grounded.”
My only desire now is to be the same Rockstar Revanth till my last breath. This is just the beginning.
This article was first published in Yo! Vizag magazine’s April-May 2017 issue.