'My final destination is to buy a house in Los Angeles, which means you are such a big star that the whole world knows you!'
But for now, Kushal Paul is happy with his Sa Re Ga Ma Pa win.
Kolkata based Kushal Paul, 20, walked away with Zee TV's Amul Sa Re Ga Ma Pa trophy and a brand new Elite i20 Hyundai in the recently concluded reality show.
Interestingly, Kushal has won two Bengali music reality shows in the past as well.
The young lad is as keen to return to Kolkata and party with his family and friends as he is looking forward to an exciting career in music. But he isn't particularly looking at becoming a Bollywood playback singer.
Kushal Paul tells Rediff.com contributor Rajul Hegde what he plans to do next.
Did you expect to win?
I generally don’t expect anything, and I always get surprised.
This win has come as a huge surprise too.
Sa Re Ga Ma worked like a training yard. I got exposure and the best platform to showcase my talent. I focused on these things more than on the competition. I just kept learning.
Winning the title is a big thing. But being in the top 12 in itself is a big achievement for any contestant.
Has the fact that you have won the trophy sunk in?
It’s very important to take things easy whether you win or not. The title is a stepping stone. I have to encash all the fame through my hard work.
Of course, it feels really good when the country votes for you and makes you the winner of a show.
You were called a ‘rock star’ for your unique style of singing.
I have put no effort into developing a style. I am glad people love the way I am.
They have named me that because of my carefree attitude, but I am not a careless person (smiles).
Who is your musical idol?
I have many idols.
More than the person, I like the motive behind their music. That’s what makes me their fan.
I like Bob Marley. He believed that music should promote peace. Music is the language of peace.
In Bollywood, I have been a big fan of Sonu Nigam.
What was it like interacting with the stars and veteran singers on the show?
There are many good moments. I danced with the prettiest woman on earth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. She had come on the show to promote her film Sarbjit.
I am a big fan of hers. When she came on stage, all of us stood up. But after a few seconds I just fell back onto my seat!
I couldn’t believe my eyes! That was a really crazy moment.
She appreciated me and said, ‘Kushal, you are something else.’
Getting a chance to meet and perform in front of legendary singers like Asha Bhosle, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Kumar Sanu, and talking to Lata Mangeshkar over the phone were the best moments too.
Who were you closest to among the contestants?
We were put up in five bungalows next to each other. It was like a school, everybody was a friend.
If I have to pick someone then it would be Harjot and Jagpreet Bajwa. Harjot is like my younger sister.
The contestant managers were the best people around. They have become such good friends that even after the show, I have been partying with them. All the contestants have gone back to their homes except me, as I have to do all these media interactions.
What was your equation with the mentors, Mika Singh, Pritam Chakraborty and Sajid-Wajid?
They were very nice; they never made us feel that they were such big composers. They treated us like younger brothers.
We have been to Mika paaji, Sajid-Wajid and Pritamda’s homes.
We danced and partied at Mika paaji’s place. During mentoring sessions, we would eat at Pritamda’s place.
We had great fun not only with the mentors but with the jury members too, like Divvy Kumar and Ash King. They were such crazy and nice people. These relationships are some of the big things I am going to take back home from the show.
How did you celebrate your win?
Since the final was held in Goa, we partied till six in the morning!
How would you summarise your experience of the show?
It was my mom’s dream to see me in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. For me, the journey was like a movie. It had all the emotions -- fights, happiness, unity and separation.
It is not about one thing that I have learnt; it’s all about the entire journey.
It started with 100 contestants, and then there were eliminations, and then 24, 12...
Is there any actor you wish to sing for?
I have been a huge fan of Hrithik Roshan since my childhood. I want to sing for him. I want to sing for other actors as well.
I want to go home and sleep for a week and party. After a month, I am moving to Mumbai and assisting Pritamda, learning the work and the new techniques in the industry.
Plus, I will be working on my own music, which I couldn’t compete because of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. I am happy making music or being associated with music.
I don’t aspire to be a Bollywood singer per se. I want to do independent stuff as well. People should know me as a good musician.
What were the auditions for the show like?
This is the third reality show I have won. In West Bengal, I won the Star of Bengal on Zee (2008) and Zee Saregama Bengal (2012). It’s the same process and it was crazy.
I was confident that I would be selected but when I saw 30 jury members trying to judge my song, it was scary.
It was tiring and confused because we were not sure for how long we would survive in the show.
Tell us about yourself.
My parents are not musically inclined. My mother got me enrolled in a music class at the age of three.
Since then, I have been learning Hindustani classical music and for the past one year I have been learning western classical music. I like to compose music so I listen to all kinds of music in the world.
I did playback at the age of 17 for a Bengali movie, The Play.
I have done stage shows from the age of 17. I have done solo stage shows in the US, Canada and India. I will never stop doing solo shows.
The 17 years of my journey has made me like a person of 30 years. I have got every sort of experience.
I don’t come from a well-to-do family and went through lots of hardship when I was a kid.
My father had a small manufacturing unit of soft toys. It never fetched us enough money but my parents never let us feel the pinch.
I am glad I went through all that because now I am better able to understand things.
I take care of my family. I bought a house for my mom before Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, which was my dream.
If I want to earn and save money, it’s only for the people around me. Personally, I want to travel around the world and learn different kinds of music.
I have a younger sister who also sings. She was part of the last season of Little Champs and was in the top seven.
Are you studying?
I am doing a Bachelor's degree in English honours through correspondence.
I am planning to study music therapy simultaneously and become a music therapist.
But my final destination is to buy a house in Los Angeles, which means you are such a big star that the whole world knows you! (grins)