Viraj has developed a love and passion for classical music right from a young age even though he has an engineering background. He grew up in beautiful Carambolim village close to the heritage site Old Goa where he did his preliminary and secondary education at Mushtifund High School in Panaji and is currently doing his final year in Civil Engineering from GEC (Goa Engineering College) Ponda.
“I did my primary, secondary and higher secondary education at Mushtifund High School in Panjim and currently I am doing my final year in Civil Engineering at GEC, Farmagudi. A major amount of my childhood was spent around Mushtifund and all the temples surrounding it. I miss all that when I look back- what wonderful days they were.” he said.
Speaking about his journey into classical music, told me that GEC taught him many life lessons that he will carry through the rest of his life. “When I was 9, I joined my first classical music class at Gandharv Sangeet Mahavidhyalaya at Corlim, Old Goa and trained under my guru, Shri. Balkrishna Kelkar sir. I did my Madhyama-Purna in classical singing under him.”
Viraj comes from a very humble background. “My dad is a fabrication engineer and my mother is a government servant. My parents realised very early that I was good at singing so they always encouraged me to sing since childhood and they played a big role in my success in this field. I first began by participating in many state-level singing competitions, and the moment I started winning prizes I got recognition from the various live performing artists of Goa, who then called me to perform at their shows. I would like to give credit to Manohar Tamankar Bhai, who gave me my first shot at this.”
“I feel that I am gifted in the field of singing. Listening to songs being played on the TV and humming and singing along is what made my parents look to give me proper training. I have always taken part in music or singing events and functions in school or college and I believe that played a major role in my life. About my Guru- while most of the students used to be afraid of him because he was strict, I never felt that way while training under him and he taught me very well. Learning classical sangeet made it easier to learn other genres of singing for me as I always wanted to be a versatile singer,” he narrated.
When asked about the challenge he said, “No challenges! As I said before that my family was very supportive, and so were my friends and followers. So that made it very comfortable for me to pursue my passion. But I still wanted to complete my engineering studies so I took the decision of doing both simultaneously,” said Viraj
However, he recalls that in 2017, he had lost focus on his studies during his HSSE, “I had to take a break to reappear for certain papers. But that gap came to me as a blessing as it lead to one of the key moments in my life as of yet,” he added.
“In November 2017, Zee Marathi Sa Re Ga Ma Pa had their Goa auditions. I was not really prepared for it, but I thought of giving it a shot and I cleared the Goa auditions round followed by the mega auditions in Mumbai where I reached the top 15. This was a real opportunity for me. I consider myself very lucky to have reached that level of achievement because everything worked out well. The journey through was one hell of a ride I’d say. The auditions were so stressful. A whole day of waiting to receive the final results. After that, it was majorly fun as I made new friends there. We had a lot of fun at the hotel Zee had kept us at. Doing riyaz and learning new things from co-contestants was my most valuable learning during that experience. The making of a reality show and odd times of shooting at 2 am at night and lack of sleep and long travels from the hotel to the studio were one heck of an experience for me. I am very fortunate to have had such experiences at a young age and will be useful for the rest of my life.”
Viraj said that his main goal is to be a well-known playback singer and a music composer and keep learning in this field of music. “It’s a cliché but I also want to set an example that no matter where you come from, Goa or Maharashtra or anywhere in India, you can be successful if you give your 100%,” he said.
“About my future plans, I want a job in the civil engineering field. I have just completed my civil engineering and also keep doing my shows. I will also resume my singing training to improve myself as I want to reach newer heights in this field. I’d like to say that my journey has just begun,” he added.
Viraj’s advice is to t “listen to your guru and well-wishers and learn to differentiate between good and bad which is very important. Never let your passion die especially if you are serious about taking up singing as a career. Do not take a long break while you are learning music- it’s hard to get back. Support or not, believe in yourself and work hard. Be confident while singing on stage and enjoy your performance. Finally, whatever heights you reach, always be humble.”