Rapper Badshah: Honey Singh is away from the scene

Badshah on the set of his music video, Move Your Lakk. Pic/SATEJ SHINDE

He fidgets with the chunky gold chain around his neck, which has become a style statement. "People would tell me, 'Tera galaa khaali khaali dikh raha hai', so I started wearing it," says the big daddy of rapping, Badshah, as we catch up with him during the shooting of the music video of his track, 'Move Your Lakk', at a Goregaon studio. But he usually sticks to just one chain or two, and doesn't overdo it, like the legendary Bappi Lahiri. "There is this image of a rapper, a cool dude. Though in the West, they wear everything oversized and loose, I prefer a more European, and Italian-kind of styling. Lots of jackets, overcoats and sweaters, and let's not forget the cap," he adds.

Aditya Roy Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Badshah sing the Humma Humma track on Dil Hai Hindustani

On his ownHis conversation is peppered with haan jis. "You can't take that away from Punjabis." He's on the set with buddies, Diljit Dosanjh and Sonakshi Sinha, who have rendered vocal support to the number. Unlike them, he does not have his team members stopping you from asking any awkward questions. Ask him anything, he will answer as he awaits choreographer Adil Shaikh's call to get moving before the camera.. As the set is being prepared, we do our bit of musical chairs. Unit hands request us to move as they adjust the props and the cable wires criss-crossing the floor. "Life is about change, so let's keep moving our positions," jokes the DJ Waley Babu crooner as he remains unperturbed. It was that track which ranked No. 1 on Indian iTunes charts within 24 hours of release, making Badshah Bollywood's hit maker.

"Rapping is a science. There is more to it than just rhyming words. Making the most simple thing is the most difficult. The whole world knows the nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but it is not easy to rap it. Alankar in the Hindi language is used to enhance the beauty of a poem, it is a figure of speech. Similarly, even in a rap song, alankar is used to enhance the meaning of the words," he says.

Write onBadshah burst on the Bollywood scene with Abhi Toh Party Shuri Hui Hai in the Sonam Kapoor-starrer Khoobsurat (2014). "My tracks are not only for youngsters, rap is for all ages; from two to 80-year-olds."

Lyrics come to him "when they have to." It is the reason he cannot stay away from his cell phone, laptop and mic: "As soon as the words strike, I note them down, and later compose the music." The rapper's growing popularity in Bollywood has also fetched him acting offers, "but nothing has been finalised."

Small is bigBadshah enjoyed his stint on the small screen recently as judge on the music reality show, Dil Hai Hindustani. He says, "I had an opportunity to meet talent from all over the country. It is amazing to see there are so many people out there who want to pursue music, the show is a wonderful platform to get noticed." He also launched his new single, Mercy, on the show. "It is from my new album, One, which will be out shortly."

Later this month, Badshah takes off with Salman Khan on the Da-bang series of stage shows in Australia and New Zealand. "We begin rehearsals soon. I have heard the songs that Salman Sir will be singing. It is a new side to him. There will be lots more beyond Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai."

No slowing downIn January, Badshah faced a health scare and was hospitalised, but it did not slow him down. "I was breathing, but there was this choking feeling in the windpipe. I felt I was gasping for breath. I was hospitalised for almost a week. My windpipes were swollen. Yes, I did panic and was scared. The doctors told me to take it easy. Back-to-back concerts and shows had taken a toll on my health. But as soon as I was okay, I was back at it."

Badshah's wife Jasmine and baby daughter, Jessemy, stay in London, so he is constantly logging airmiles. He says, "Jessemy was born in early January, she's too young to travel. My wife's family is based in London, so they live there. Maybe after a year, I will make Mumbai my home, when my daughter turns one. Even though she is officially called Jessemy, at home she is called Kashni. Punjabis have this concept of pet names. I am called Bittu at home in Chandigarh. Punjabi households are full of Chintus, Pintus and Bittus."

Old connectHis real name is Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia. He took on the stage name Badshah since he hoped to rock the world with his rap.

He was initially associated with Honey Singh; and was part of his group, Mafia Mundeer, but they went their separate ways in 2012. Ask him about Honey Singh's caustic remark when he was asked about Badshah — "Rolls Royce aur Nano main farq hota hai," — and Badshah doesn't break a sweat. "He is away from the scene; I do not want to say anything now. I am only doing what I enjoy."

Badshah digs Bollywood music of the '90s — it was what made him turn to music. "I grew up listening to songs of Jatin-Lalit, Nadeem-Shravan, Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu. My sense of melody came from them." From among the present-day musicians, he likes Pritam and Vishal-Shekhar.

He rues the fact that rapping is not considered a serious art form in India, and rappers not treated like they are in the West. He says, "It's time people took rapping seriously, rapping is far from easy; to make people have your tracks on their lips, and to be on everyone's playlist on loop, looks simple, but it's not."

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