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Musical maverick

The first turning point in my life came when my parents got divorced. I was 12 years old then and it taught me to accept situations as they are. I also learnt not to count on anyone else for my happiness. After my parents split I was raised by my father in Baltimore, Maryland, in the US. Initially he had strong reservations about me pursuing the arts and convincing him was a struggle. But I think he sensed that my will was incredibly strong and now, years later when I’ve made a mark, I know he is very proud of me.

My mother has a beautiful voice, and when I was little, we’d sing together and play antakshri for hours. So, I became a keen singer as well and gave stage performances. I was singing and performing in school — and was one of the leads in high school musicals and the choir.

A very significant moment was performing at Carnegie Hall as a 16-year-old. That was when I decided that I’d pursue a career in singing. I’d never felt as happy as I did then when I stood on that stage and sang to a huge audience. So, after completing high school I studied at New York University for a Bachelor’s degree in music.

The third high point was my decision to move to Mumbai around 2005. I uprooted myself from the US and moved to India. It wasn’t long before that I realised that this was where I could fulfil my dreams.

In 2005, I teamed up with guitarist Randolph Correia to form the band, Shaa’ir+Func, and over the years we’ve released three albums.

My acting career took off in 2008 with a guest appearance in Rock On!!. In 2011, filmmaker Kiran Rao approached me for Dhobi Ghat. The same year I hosted The Dewarists, a music show on television.

I’m now shooting for the second season of The Dewarists and have also been shooting for my third film, David, that’s being directed by Bejoy Nambiar. Randolph and I are working on the fourth album, and I’m also working on a solo record.