Newskarnataka's Cindrella Daryani, caught up with Udupi's Gagan Gaonkar, winner of season 5 of the “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs”, and his parents, at the FM Radio Mirchi office in Mangaluru and had wide ranging discussion with them on the competition, his talents and his plans for the future. Here is his story....
A 13-year-old, Gagan Gaonkar from Udupi, has created a huge fan following among all age groups in his home town, his state and the country, after he was crowned the winner of the fifth season of the “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs”.
At the end of the finale, he was gifted with a huge trophy and the key of a new Nissan Sunny car as the prize for his hard work, mellifluous voice and ability to get the crowd cheering for him with his showmanship on the L’il Champs stage. Nothing in life comes easy, and Gagan faced tough competition from Keshav Tyohar who finished first runner-up and Aishwarya Saha the second runner up in the final round.
Displaying the joy of victory, Gagan says that participating and winning the 'Sare ga ma pa L’il Champs' reality show has helped him a lot to clarify his goals in life and formulate a direction for his life.
He says, “During the competition we got one-to-one personal training, which helped me a lot to improve my singing skills in my genre such as Sufi, Ghazal, Hindustani classical and Bollywood songs.”
He fondly remembers all the judges and the guests on the show. He says that Asha Tai (Bhonsle) gave us so much of love and encouragement during her one week on the show. “She gave us many singing tips, such as how to deal with low-pitch and high-pitch. Shaan Sir taught us how to gracefully decorate a song (gaane ka shringar kaisa hona chahiye) and maha -guru Alka ji explained to us as to how to add feelings in a song”
Gagan enthralled the audience with his stellar performance in the finale with songs such as ‘Zumme ki raat’, ‘khali peeli rokne ka nahi’, ‘Chinta ta chita chita’.
Was it difficult?
It must have been difficult, for Gagan told newskarnataka.com: “I skipped two of my annual exams, one of which was on the finale day. It was really a tough competition and through it all I managed all my studies, competition and finale round as well. Zee TV scheduled at least two hours every day for studies as well as three days off from all the kinds of rehearsals for every contestant, which helped to visit my home-town during those days and to meet my teachers, friends as well as to get my study notes.”
But South India does not vote...
Both of his parents are into academics, Professors by profession. His father, Gopal Krishna Gaonkar, a Professor of Economics said, “It was a cutthroat competition. We worried only about getting a good number of votes from our region; as South India does not cast votes in such competitions. But as our son progressed through the show winning the appreciation of fellow contestant and judges, we started informing Kannada associations and other well wishers, which helped garner more votes.
His father added that his son securing the Zee Kannada music trophy was but, another feather in the cap, skyrocketing Gagan's popularity across the state.
Learning to sing
Going back in time Gagan recalls, “after seeing my inclination for music and singing early on, my parents started my singing training at the age of just seven”.
“I am comfortable in Hindustani classical, sufi songs, and fast-beat Hindi songs. In the entire competition, Zee TV, the organizers of the show, allotted songs to all the selected contestants. The allotting of songs was done on the basis of our singing comfort zones.” L’il champ Gagan told Newskarnataka.com
His popularity and talents have already brought Gagan an offer of a role in a Kannada children’s movie. Gagan however, rejected the offer in order to focus on his studies.
“So far my school has supported me a lot, but this time my principal is not giving me the liberty to take up the movie offer because I’ll have to skip my school for at least three months. So I decided not to skip school for so long, as it will affect my studies” he said, focused and not disappointed.
Gagan clearly sees his future in the music industry; he says with conviction, “after completing my studies, I want to pursue my career in audio engineering, then to assist music composers in the Bollywood and Kannada film and music industry”.
But his heart lies in singing. His ultimate goal is to become a playback singer for the film industry. His dream? To one day lend his voice in song for his favourite actors such as Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan.
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