A year ago, singer Ben Parag auditioned to be a contestant on the Indian reality singing show Dil Hai Hindustani — a TV series searching for the best Hindi music talent from across the globe. He quickly rose to be among the show’s top six. On Saturday, November 11, he will headline his own show in Jamaica, NY, at York College Performing Arts Center, slated to feature Fakhrul Razi, Parag’s former co-contestant and finalist on Dil Hai Hindustani.
New York native and fluent Hindi speaker, Ben trained in classical music under the tutelage of gurus Kinnar and Payal Seen. Raised in a family of Guyanese musical talent, Ben started singing at a young age. For Dil Hai Hindustani, Ben traveled to India for the first time to perform in front of a panel of renowned judges: Bollywood director Karan Johar, Indian playback singer, Shalmali Kholgade, Indian rapper, Badshah, and singer/composer, Shekhar Ravjiani, frequently earning standing ovations.
Karan Johar commented that not only was Ben his favorite contestant, but he sang the song “Mitwa” from the film Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, “better than the original singer,” attributing Ben’s ability of keeping his Caribbean roots close, even while seeking global appeal.
Despite undergoing elimination from the Indian reality show competition in mid-March, Ben returned to his hometown in April this year as a winner, welcomed and honored by the community of South Richmond Hill, with a parade and an evening of music. Shortly after his return, I became acquainted with Ben and his family, who, naturally are thrilled at the doors that have opened for him. He has since divided his time between India and New York.
“Music has become my senses,” Ben said, adding, “I’m learning to understand the powerful story each song tells and try to manifest those emotions vocally.”
He continues to perfect his art, striving towards his dream of one day becoming a Bollywood playback singer. He said, “I’m so thankful for the blessings I’ve been afforded in this life. I’m more aware of my existence…my purpose and impact. I’m not looking for fame. I just want to sing for the rest of my life.”
Ben Parag sings from “Mitwa” — video courtesy of StillYash Photography.
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For ticket/show information visit this link: https://www.tickethungama.com/event/9637/ben-parag-live-in-concert-ft-fakhrul-razi.
Ashley Kooblall is a NYC-based online writer/editor whose work has been featured in YourTango, Women’s Health, and DISFunkshion Magazine. In her spare time she can be found baking delectable treats. Follow her on Twitter @akooblall.