Working with Dharma Productions is completely like a dream-come-true thing and more than that to what extreme you can think of. It is altogether a different Nasha, says Akhil.
When the song was signed back then and confirmed by Dharma, it took 1.5 years to be materialised, I’ve never had the doubt on Shashank Khaitan (the director) and I hold my trust on him, that made me always believe that Humsafar will be there in the movie and they felt the same too. There was never a fear but a belief that you are listening to the song today, the amount of popularity it received from across the world is what Humsafar deserved and it is getting which makes me so happy, it’s more than overwhelming. I am receiving the messages from people that it’s playing on the loop, what more I could have asked for. It is dream debut for me, Varun and Alia singing it on The Kapil Sharma Show, you can not ask anything better than that, he added.
Meet Akhil Sachdeva, the voice, words and rhythm behind a track that has already garnered more than 15 million views on YouTube, is marking his debut in Bollywood as a composer-singer-lyricist of the Humsafar song through the movie, Badrinath Ki Dulhania starring Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. It has been more than 7 years of his journey with his band Nasha, makes us remember, every tiny step counts.
Rumi once quoted, God, take my soul to that place, where I may speak without words. When I asked Akhil to have answers on this and that question, he replied I will say everything from my heart because that’s the only thing I know.
How did it all start? How have you made it a happen?
Well, my musical journey started with a fact that I didn’t have any hobby or choice to take, music was everything that used to give me happiness. It was the only source of happiness since childhood. I had a few little issues in the family while growing up.
One thing that always brought a priceless smile on my face, whosoever is listening to me used to say that my voice, my songs are touching them, it was all through whatever limited learning I had during that point of time. Sometimes I went off tune but that didn’t let go off the feel from my song. For me, music is all about feel and energy that pushes the souls hearing me touch them. That’s all a musician could have asked for.
I remember Barista used to organise Jam Concerts during Friendship Day, out of curiosity I participated and happened to win in Delhi NCR region, then from there, someone recognised me and asked me to do a solo show for which I was paid some INR 2500. And then I was approached for the first show in Noida which got me earn some 11K. It was the self-contentment and happiness of delivering Nasha becoming the bread-butter for my family and from that note, this is how my journey for Nasha, of Nasha, with Nasha began.
When did you plan to have a band which is now so loved band ‘Nasha’? In Delhi NCR, it’s the focus of every lounge and club to having you perform at their place. TGIF is a call for Nasha!
Nasha was actually my first song’s name which I wrote in Bombay during the days when I never used to do perform, I wrote it and it brought me attention during those days. And then I got a call from Patiala University for a show where Mohit Chauhan was performing and I was asked to open the show, to perform, 2009 was the year.
And there they asked me, by what name should they introduce me? I just vent out the name ‘Nasha’. That’s how Nasha became my life, and the reason why I have got a big tattoo of Nasha on my hand as well.
Performing live in front of audience just can’t be expressed, it is Nasha altogether. The best part is I never got nervous while performing on the stage even on Day 1, I did my best to let me deliver what I have always wanted to, always-always-always super-confident while performing, and that’s my charm that connects me with the audience, and the reason why Nasha became what it today is, people know us, listen to us, and welcome us with smiles and love.
The more I say the lesser it is, I just cannot describe the immense love that everybody has given, showered upon us. All I can say stage has that magic, and the stage is almighty to me, stage gives me that feel-good-factor of energy that I give it back to audience. Which is what makes our win-win moment.
And then, Main Tenu happened, right?
Main Tenu happened, when I did a show with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab at Huda City Ground almost 6 years back where we have given him tribute recreating the Sufi version of it, and within no time, it became popular.
During the show, Rahat Ji introduced me saying that ‘my song has been sung better by this man’ and then I decided to record the song in my own version, the rendition. It was heat of the moment I took the decision to record the song anyhow, and thankfully, it paid me worth becoming way popular and adding the value to my identity (you can listen the audio on SoundCloud).
And I have no idea was it God’s blessing or what, but the way song gained tremendous traction becoming the song of the moment, that it’s still been played at Clubs which makes me feel blessed, having me the way I am. The people who know me in India or outside the country, know me from the song Main Tenu. Main Tenu grabbed us the attention and love from the people around delivering the Nasha every now and then.
So how Dharma came your way?
Humsafar. I have written this song some 3 years back, I am not that technologically advanced and still I don’t know much about it, but whatever I write, put in the words, I attach a soul to them, whatever I feel I put them across in words, that’s how Humsafar has been written.
When I wrote it that time, I was clear with the fact that I am not going to release it just like another band video on YouTube because I believed having no doubt that my song deserves a platform that makes the song reach to as many people as it can.
The way it touches me firstly imbibes the connect, I realised the intensity and depth of the song so I have always kept it with me, took it with me, waited for the right time to make it a happen and it came along with Dharma. That’s more than happiness, what can I say!
Two years back I met Shashank, director of the movie, his first film was Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, on dinner at a friend’s place, there he listened to this song and told me that whenever he’s gonna make the movie, he would love to have it in it. I think that time he was writing the script of Badri, and when film got finalised by Karan, he called me asking to have me on board for Humsafar. It has now become the love theme song and is favourite of everyone right from Karan to Varun and Alia.
The best thing happened is the way I wrote the song at that point of time, those 3 years back, everything’s same there in the movie, nothing has been changed. The song exactly got its right fit in there, and now it’s everywhere, hear it on Saavn or watch it on YouTube. And it perfectly describes what Varun and Alia, Badri and Vaidehi share as characters in the movie. It completely complements the line and track of the movie, so much so that it appears to me that this song was made for Badrinath.
Coming back to the other side of life, were there any downfall that you have witnessed even after making Nasha into a real thing? Were there any NOs came during this Sufi journey?
My struggle was quite different than a struggle of an artist, or say what people used to go through normally. My struggle actually started when I was a kid, it wasn’t the childhood that every child uses to have or wishes to have. I was deprived of most of the things that a normal child use to have or get.
I didn’t have huge knowledge about music, nor I belong to any musical background, I feel I’m blessed and have a purpose in life to entertain people. I have never learned music from anyone nor did any formal training of writing or composing, I am completely self-taught, aspiring to be the rockstar the country has never seen.
Many people have ignored me, avoided me, completely disowned me. Then there were people who were so jealous of me, I have no idea why! The unmatchable love I have received was the driving push that the hatred that has been thrown on me seemed vague and their efforts have gone in vain.
There were people who didn’t believe in me but that kept me motivated to be the one that I have always desired. I am happy with the way life is now moving and now, at this point, I also desire to learn, I now wish to learn more, otherwise the childhood was just about struggle. I am happy I have been able to do everything for my parents which was also much needed.
As much as this phase is exciting, it is challenging too. And I will keep giving.
What inspires Akhil the most? Like you travel a lot to perform, it feels so engrossing, and then the music, of course, is your passion. Like that day, when we were about to have a call and after 4-5 hours you had your gig there at Jodhpur. What are your energy boosters?
My life, my observations, the people around me, the hardships and tough phases of the life, everything that has moved me made me deliver through Nasha which connects the souls with souls. The realisations which I never wished to have, made me the person that I am today and that has made what my music is.
The people who are with me from heart and mind, and the people who are only with the mind, I count both as inspiring motions and all those life lessons that pushed me to follow the rhythm.
I don’t get free time much, I am doing a lot of shows, I have been travelling a lot, but during me-time, I love watching movies and am quite a foodie, so I love having some good food too.
Undoubtedly, you are in your happy times, you are living the dream. Is Akhil writing-composing a new song these days? How does this success feel at the moment?
I have been witnessing the small amount of success along with time in this span of 7 years. Bollywood is what makes you count as a commercial success. I have been getting immense love from the people which is just no less than stardom but this Humsafar journey is something else. I will never let the success and fan-following in my head keeping the roots intact as what I am today and I always hope wish that I never be changed.
Yes, I keep writing new stuff, I have my own way of writing. Everybody has one of expressing their emotions and feelings, I have my own very simple and direct way. I feel I have so much inside me that even I have no idea about for which I keep discovering it.
As my mother said once, I need not be the star because I want to be one but the world deserves to see a star like me. Yes, I am writing melodies and to me, a song is like which gets in the rhymes of people after hearing it once or twice, and I feel I would be able to do with my songs.
The words fail but the music speaks, volume chants, and love transpires, that’s Akhil for you.
Crafted with brevity for select stories to make certain you see what others don't; sent every Friday
Two exclusive fortnightly newsletters, sent on Saturday alternately
a) Reel and Real with Rony Patra
b) Mixer with Ayush Garg