“When you hear Taxi Taxi for the first time, it strikes you as a simple tune. But like many Rahman compositions it is a multi- layered song with an infectious air to it,”
says singer Benny Dayal, one of A R Rahman’s protégés.
Dayal will sing this hit Tamil song along with a number
from the film Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na at the Rahman concerts. “Taxi Taxi has a terrific beat and is very popular with
young listeners. I have performed Taxi Taxi at many live
concerts with audiences from different parts of India, and
in some cases from South Asia. People have told me that
though they did not understand the words, they enjoyed
the melody and rhythm,” says the young singer, speaking
during a break from a rehearsal for the show.
Dayal, who has also sung for composer Pritam in Hindi
films like Badmaash Company, is among the many artists
— including Sukhwinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam, Javed
Ali and Naresh Iyer — who were either discovered or
groomed by Rahman.
The 26-year-old Dayal has also sung for many popular
composers in South India like Vidyasagar, Harris Jayaraj
and Yuvan Shankar Raja. In the four years since his movie
career began, he has given his voice to some of the top
actors in the South. In Bollywood, he has sung Kaise Mujhe
Tum Mil Gayi under Rahman’s baton for Aamir Khan in
Ghajini and Salman Khan in Yuvvraaj (Tu Meri Dost Hai).
He was last year’s winner of Filmfare’s R D Burman Award
for New Music Talent.
Of late a promising number of Bollywood assignments
have been coming Dayal’s way; he has also sung hit numbers in Telugu and Malayalam. Though his first song to hit
the airwaves was Rahman’s Maduraikku Pogadhedi, from
the film Azhagiya Thamizh Magan his big break were the
numbers Taxi Taxi and Chinnamma Chilakkamma from
the Tamil film Sakkarakatti. The movie was not a hit but
the songs clicked, consolidating the rapport he had built
“I admire singers who take my compositions to a new
height,” Rahman says. “Their singing should surprise.
Benny is one such singer.”
Dayal studied in the Gulf, where his parents were work-
ing. His parents sent him to Madras Christian College in
Chennai where he earned a degree in commerce and a
diploma in journalism. With his class work, he began per-
forming at college events and inter-university gatherings.
When Rahman heard Dayal’s voice it took a few weeks for
Dayal to get a call from the maestro’s office.
‘I don’t know how but somehow I got noticed and that’s
‘It has a terrific beat’ Young singer Benny Dayal will rock the Rahman show, predicts Arthur J Pais Benny Dayal rehearsing with Krystal Garib
how I got a call from A R Rahman’s studio to sing in the
chorus,’ Dayal has said in interviews earlier. ‘From a chorus
singer for the song Balleilakka in Sivaji, I was soon chosen
to sing my first solo song.’
Dayal had a day-time job during his first months of
singing for the movies. Rahman loves to work at night and
many of his songs are recorded at that time. One morning,
in the early hours, Rahman asked Dayal: ‘Shouldn’t you
leave early or you’ll be late for work tomorrow?’
Dayal, who had till then been working in the HR depart-
ment of a large firm in Chennai, said: ‘No sir, I quit.’ He
recalls Rahman shaking his hand and offering him his con-
Rahman has also been impressed with Dayal’s knowledge
of Arabic. The composer had used a Lebanese singer for the
Arabic portion of the Guru hit Mayya Mayya. He wanted
a male singer for some Arabic lines.