Singer Rahul Deshpande is the grandson of Hindustani classical vocalist Vasantrao Deshpande. The veteran artiste was known for his immense contribution to natya sangeet. Growing up, however, Rahul had very little interest in classical music and was keen in other genres. In a candid chat, he talks about going back to his roots, exploring his second chance and reality shows.

You will be judging a new reality show, Mi Honaar Superstar, tell us about your approach for the same.

Honestly, I am going to be sharing my experiences and journey with the contestants because I have gone through it all. I am a performer and have been through many ups and downs. I will be correcting, instructing and enjoying the show. Reality shows are tricky; if you use it well, you can be the next Shreya Ghosal or Bela Shende. But you cannot let it affect you. You have to be grounded and have a support system in the form of family or friends.

Is there a pattern or plan that you will be following?

No, but I have learnt over the years what not to say. Basically, I will not be outright negative or hurtful. Having said that, I will give them an honest opinion and constructive criticism. I also think that it is unfair to judge a person based on one performance. This show is about second chances, and it is soul-stirring to see some of their stories. However, I am going to judge them based on their talent, and no drama will be tolerated.

You have been through your share of ups and downs, did you get a second chance too?

I was pursuing my chartered accountancy, had completed my foundations and was doing my articleship. Marathi writer and humourist Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, who was a close friend of my grandfather, once asked me, ‘Why do you look so unhealthy?’. To which I told him that I am studying and working, and have classes, etc. He then asked me, ‘How many musicians or artistes do you see in Pune as compared to lawyers and doctors? Leave everything and concentrate on music.’ I think that was the push I required and took up music professionally.

Growing up, you shared that you were not very keen on classical music. Why?

I went to an English medium school, so my musical influences were veteran artistes such as Bryan Adams, Madonna, Jon Bon Jovi and Mariah Carey. I had very little interest in classical music. But when I focused on it, that was the only thing I wanted to do. Initially, I would feed off the energy of orchestras and group competitions. It was only when I was asked to perform at a classical concert and I was confused what to sing, that it stung me. I realised that I cannot let my roots fade. That’s when I spent eight to 10 years practising and brushing up my classical Indian music roots.

Your daughter, Renuka, recently garnered a lot of attention for her presence on a show. Tell us about her.

She is a unique kid, unlike me or Neha (wife). I was a shy kid but Renuka feeds off attention. She needs it all the time. She is good with mimicry, singing, dancing and performing. I feel she could be an actor, singer or anything else that she wants to be.

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