In conversation with Darshan Raval, the 25-year-old singer and composer who has won millions of hearts with his soulful voice and lovable attitude
AS TOLD TO YVONNE JACOB
It is fascinating how you can have such a deep connection with your idol, someone you admire so much that they start to feel like they’re your own and you’ve known them for ages. Well, this is no rare possibility for the numerous fans of Darshan Raval, or Darshaners as they loyally call themselves. Darshan Raval has fans who have loved him and seen him grow right from his initial days when he would put out covers of popular songs on YouTube. But it has been a long time since his YouTube days and his fanbase has only increased during this period. It's often difficult for some artists to cope with fame but that’s not the case with the 25-year-old chocolate boy, “Coping up was difficult when everything was new but now it's been 5-6 years and I've got a lot of fame and attention and love. I’m happy and abhi wo family wala scene ho gaya (now I have a family of my own). Now I know that when I travel, people will wait for me at the airport to see me and meet me. So they’re more like family now and it is never difficult to cope up with family,” he says with warmth in his voice.
There’s no doubt that Darshan has such a big following because whatever he does, he puts everything into his work so that his audience can connect to his music as well. Apart from Instagram and other social media apps available to us, the young singer has his own ways to connect with his audience. “Sabse bada (the biggest) connect are my songs,” he stresses. “I make my songs with a lot of emotions in them because I know mere fans bahot dil se sunne waale hai (will listen to them with all their heart). My concerts are a way to connect with them the most.” he says and you can tell how genuinely he means it because you can hear it in his voice. Over our chat Darshan keeps switching between English and old Hindi, the kind I hadn’t heard in a long time and I start to enjoy his refreshing and raw candour.
“SOMEONE TOLD ME I CAN MAKE AN ALBUM BUT WHO’S GOING TO LISTEN TO IT? NO ONE!”
Going back to the start of his career, I ask him how it all started off for him, “I always wanted to make independent songs but sunne wala nai tha uss waqt (there was no one to listen to it at the time). I went to a studio and told them I wanted to make an album. Someone told me I can make an album but who’s going to listen to it? No one! So it was clear that I had to build an audience first. I thought of making covers of hit songs and putting them up on YouTube. Maine socha nahi tha (I never thought) they’ll be this successful. All the songs became popular. It started with Kabhi Jo Badal and then I started reaching out to a bigger audience and till today I am making independent music.” Telling me about his breakthrough moment he reminisces, “I made a song which was called Pehli Mohabbat and there’s a song I sang in my reality show’s audition as well and I got selected. I performed that song for the first time on national television, mera promo aya tha. That was the breakthrough moment for me. People started knowing me and loving me. That’s how I got my fans, my family actually, all over India and outside India as well.”
He goes on to tell me about how he has his creative freedom while making music and that he prefers to experiment with his songs in his own studio. So who gave him the stamp of approval? I ask him about who played the role of a critic for him, “My mom was my biggest critic and she used to appreciate me as well. Whenever I used to make a song I used to play it for her. If she would say that it’s a good song then I would know that the song is not good, when she would call it amazing, that’s when I’d breathe a sigh of relief,” he laughs and continues to say, “I used to come to know through her expressions! So I think she was the one who was always there to help me, guide me, and be my critic as well”
For someone who has been in the industry for a while and worked his way up, I ask him about the things that contributed to his rise as a popular singer, “I've never focussed on the negative things people have said during the journey. I have always kept myself very positive. I have respected people who have helped me and supported me always. And I have always wanted to make good music apart from anything else. That was always the focus. Yehi raha hai mera mantra (this has been my mantra) to my journey.”
It’s a time when the entire nation is on lockdown and honestly I am running out on ways to kill time. Curious to know what Darshan Raval was up to during this period, and sort of fishing for ideas for moi, I ask him about how he was spending his lockdown, “Making music, completing a lot of songs that are incomplete... trying to complete. Watching movies and a lot of series. I just watched Parasite yesterday! Apart from that, I’m working on… surprise hai waise toh (well, it's a surprise) but I’m working on a few independent tracks and surprises. I’m ready for the entire year and I’ll release things dheere dheere (gradually).”
Our time is almost up and I ask him about his playlist. “Falling by Harry Styles, Old Skool by Sidhu Moose Wala. I have a different kind of playlist,” he chuckles. “Yes! There’s K. by Cigarettes After Sex!” Our chat isn’t over just yet. I ask him if he has something to say for our readers and his message will surely melt your heart, “First of all I would like to say thank you because you've read the full interview and that's why you've come to this last question. Loads and loads of love to you. Be safe, be happy and be positive. Keep listening to a lot of good music is all I want to say.”