With a list of 30 songs, millions of views, and a stronger hold on what he wants his life to look like, 2021 has been Jubin Nautiyal’s year.
I first noticed Jubin Nautiyal’s voice when he sang “Jiya Re” for a TV show titled Dahleez (2015) on Star Plus. For me, it is still one of the best romantic songs I’ve ever heard. From that point on, he went on to sing for films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Fitoor, OK Jaanu, Raabta, Loveyatri, Kabir Singh, and Love Aaj Kal, among others.
But, just like the famous line from Om Shanti Om goes: Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost.
2021 has been Jubin Nautiyal’s year with nearly 30 songs this year. His single, “Lut Gaye”, has garnered over a billion views. His other songs have innumerable views. “Khushi Jab Bhi Teri” has 102 million, “Barsaat Ki Dhun” has 216 million, “Dil Galti Kar Baitha Hai” has 220 million, and “Raataan Lambiyaan” from Shershaah has 443 million views.
Speaking about this lustrous time in his career, he says, “I’m nervous right now. When you do so many hits at one time, the next one becomes even more difficult. I had only heard that every artist has his day, and I’m experiencing it right now.”
There’s a clip on YouTube from when he was rejected on a music reality show. Even that video has had over a crore views till now. It has been a long and challenging journey for Nautiyal in the music business. It was this struggle that made him reach this far. “If I would have gotten this level of success post my initial two songs, then I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Even if I could handle it, I wouldn’t have been able to do the kind of good work. I don’t see it as a struggle but as a journey. I’m proud to say that I’m not a one-hit-wonder. I have consistently shown growth from my first song till now, and consistency is more difficult in our industry. Today I feel the pressure of where the next hit will come from. It makes me nervous, and that tells me I’m on the right path.”
Nautiyal recently had concerts across countries, and he received a phenomenal response. “I have attracted a lot of soulful music lovers with my music. So, in my concerts, you will not find rage. I call my concerts a three-ticket audience that includes grandparents, parents, and children, because all can enjoy my music.”
Today, Nautiyal appears in most of his videos. One would assume he is now comfortable in front of the camera, but that is not true. Making an appearance in his videos was more a compulsion than a choice. “It is a nerve-wracking experience to be in front of the camera. We had to make music videos during the pandemic, and some places would give us permission while some wouldn’t. We would get the actors’ dates, but people would often get scared. So, it was decided that I would start acting in my videos, which is how it began. It was more for the love of my music that we had to create good visuals. The response is so good that we are doing all kinds of videos, be it dance, sad, or romantic. I’m working on making some stylised dance videos. Film offers have started coming, but it took me time to reach where I have reached in the world of music. Just because I’m famous today and people are watching me, I wouldn’t start acting. That would not be right.”
This year, Nautiyal has managed to have a delicate balance between his film and non-film songs. If he had Lut Gaye on the one hand, he had Raataan Lambiyaan on the other. He firmly believes that non-film music is gratifying at this point in time. “Non-film music is where the growth is happening. If you see, Bollywood is a mixture of many genres. Bollywood picks up any genre that is popular or raging, and makes that in its own style. Time and again, artists have proved that independent music is where the magic is. In independent music, there is freedom and artistic expression. There is no limitation with regards to the script or the hero, or the film. The song could be whatever the creator wants it to be. It could have any kind of structure. Music has flourished wherever there is freedom,” he says.
Romantic and soulful songs have been the heart of Nautiyal’s career. How does he define his journey? “When I started my music career, I was a singer-songwriter. I wrote six albums that I never released. They were great albums, but I believe they wouldn’t have reached the audience if I had released them back in the day. I understood that if I went independent, nothing would happen. I should explore my voice in Bollywood. Once I have the fan base I need, I can feed them the music I want. We have reached that stage only now,” he says.
Nautiyal has touched people’s hearts not only with his music, but also with his noble deeds. He hails from a place called Jaunsar-Bawar in Uttarakhand. It is a tribal region of the state that has seen a lot of migration of the daily wage earners. During the pandemic, when everyone returned home, he reached out to his friends in the city. He made arrangements for people back home as for them, survival was a bigger problem than COVID. “I come from a tiny tribal place where people migrate for better work opportunities. Most of them were daily wage earners. I can make some difference at this stage in my career. So, for the longest time, I was fighting this problem of migration. I felt that towns were just filling up with people. There was a lot of displacement. We were losing so much authenticity. I was trying to work towards it, and then the pandemic hit. There was a crazy reverse migration of people coming back, but there was nothing for them. I used my association with the Reliance Foundation to provide ration for two months which gave solid support to the area people,” he recalls. Noble at heart, and with his voice.