New Delhi: He may have got his first break as a singer, but Kaala Bhairava of "Naatu Naatu" fame says his childhood dream was to become a composer.
Bhairava was launched into the Telugu film industry as a singer with 2011's "Rajanna", whose music was composed by his father MM Keeravaani. He has also sung for Tamil and Kannada films.
His debut as a music director came eight years later with "Mathu Vadalara", starring his younger brother Sri Simha. Since then, he has composed music for Telugu films, including "Karthikeya 2", "Colour Photo", "Mukhachitram", and "Happy Birthday".
"Composing is a little bit closer to my heart than singing. That was where I was more invested in since I was a kid, but as I grew up, playback singing is where I got my first break. I became an established composer years later. It's funny how things turned out but I grew up wanting to be a composer," the 30-year-old told PTI in an interview.
His latest project is the third season of the animated series "The Legend of Hanuman".
Bhairava said he has been associated with the Disney+ Hotstar show since its first season as the background score composer. This time, he was approached to sing the 'Hanuman Chalisa Ansh'.
As a "devout follower" of Lord Hanuman since childhood, the National Award winner said he instantly boarded the series.
"I feel this is one of the best things that happened to me in terms of working on this creatively... This is something I was very excited about," he added.
Staying true to the lyrics of the 'Hanuman Chalisa Ansh' without altering its essence was "one of the challenging aspects" in the composition process, said Bhairava.
"The very thing I did when I had to start composing was that I tried listening to all the existing versions of the 'Hanuman Chalisa' by artists across the country and it actually helped a lot.
"I wanted to make my version of the 'Hanuman Chalisa Ansh' stand out and sound different from the already existing ones. I realised that the beauty of the Chalisa was that you can't restrict the narrative to a particular mood or tempo. This is musically so rich that we can have that liberty to present it differently," he said.
Bhairava along with Rahul Sipligunj sung the Oscar-winning Telugu track "Naatu Naatu", but life hasn't changed at all for the singer post awards and accolades. Keeravaani composed the song from "RRR", directed by SS Rajamouli.
"The way I approach my composing process or I go about my work has remained the same before and after (awards). Getting recognition on platforms like that obviously gives you that confidence boost, validates your work. But the process and everything else... Nothing has changed." Along with name and fame, has the singer-composer also received an opportunity to sing for heroes in the Hindi belt? Bhairava, who has dubbed his Telugu songs from "RRR" and the "Baahubali" films in Hindi, said he is "manifesting" a chance to sing in the language. "It's a very satisfying experience, to be able to sing in a different language and be able to convince the listener and make them relate to the song. If you don't know the language and you're still able to connect to the listener because of the emotion and expression, it's wonderful. It's one of the best compliments a singer can get," he added.
Coming from a film family, the artist said music and movies have been "an inseparable part" of his childhood. Rajamouli is his uncle from father Keeravaani's side.
"Even at home, (there are) non-stop discussions about the latest music or movies. It's a never-ending talk show happening in the house. Everyone actively participates in it, everyone has their different points of view and doing post mortem of the songs like 'This is nice, this good, but why is this done like this? This should have been done differently," he shared.
The songs that are dissected the most are those by Bhairava and Keeravaani.
"More than any other songs, it happens with my dad's and my songs because the biggest critics of our songs are right here at home. They see everything through a magnifying glass. I feel that is one of the best things that you have such honest critics right there in the immediate family," he added.
Up next for the singer are four Telugu movies, all set in different genres, to be announced next month.