On October 9, Shakeel, a resident of Mira Road, Mumbai, left his home around 5.30 pm for work. With his guitar and music setup, he travelled to the Versova area of Andheri to do a street performance.
The 24-year-old had been performing on the streets for a while now to collect money for admission to music school but this performance was going to be life-changing.
As he sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaye’ from the movie Jurm (1990), on that breezy Saturday evening, he caught the attention of a passerby who recorded him.
One of the recorders named Ankit uploaded the video to social media platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and within a few hours, it went viral. The video also recorded his UPI (unified payments interface) account, which he displays for every performance.
Talent + ingenuity + UPI = 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/kiS3CCJcHg
— Ankit.Today (@ankitv) October 9, 2021
Meanwhile, oblivious to the developments, Shakeel returned home with a few hundred bucks in his pocket and went to sleep.
The next day his phone rang non-stop, and the money in his bank account increased while social media notifications poured in endlessly. Since then, he has received close to Rs 70,000.
Shakeel won the hearts of celebrities like Hrithik Roshan, Sonu Nigam and Kunal Kapoor, who lauded his talent.
“You are amazing. Loved your rendition,” commented Hrithik on his Instagram post.
“God bless you Shakeel. Artium Academy would be delighted to have him under your wings and support his musical journey (sic),” wrote Sonu Nigam while sharing his video.
Shakeel, who hails from Karnataka’s Chitradurga district, came to Mumbai in 2020 with an aim to join a music school and performed on the streets to pay for the same.
“People often record my videos and share them but this is totally different. I still haven’t accepted that this is happening to me. For the last three to four years I have been doing odd jobs to gather school fees,” Shakeel tells The Better India. He adds, “My parents have been upset with me for dropping out of college and pursuing music. So this is a bit unreal.”
‘The internet and Mumbai can change lives.’
Shakeel is a self-taught artist who has been performing since his childhood. His father is a lorry driver and his mother is a homemaker. Although music was an integral part of life, pursuing it professionally was never encouraged.
While pursuing a degree in Computer Science, he had a ‘now or never’ moment about his singing career. So, he dropped out of college and moved to Bengaluru to pursue music in 2018.
From working in a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company to working in a restaurant and then as an assisting music teacher, Shakeel took up whatever odd jobs came his way and saved enough to buy a music set up for his house.
Inspired by his idol, Allie Sherlock, an Irish busker, Shakeel decided to busk or perform on the streets but there was one problem.
“I was very scared to perform publicly. When I approached a few people in the beginning they would freak out and walk away. One day, my younger brother, Danish, suggested going to Church Street and playing. I remember my eyes were shut throughout the performance. As I finished the song ‘Aye Mere Humsafar’ and opened my eyes, there were 25 people cheering for me. I collected Rs 6,000 that day. That was the beginning and I kept playing till I collected enough money to come to Mumbai,” recalls Shakeel.
But his journey to Mumbai was not easy with the beginning of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. He lost his savings thanks to music school fees, rent and food costs during the lockdown. He was left with a little over Rs 10,000 when the lockdown restrictions eased.
After performing daily for 20 days across Mumbai, Shakeel finally hit the jackpot with his viral performance.
Since the video went viral, he has received several collaboration calls and was even invited by singer Mika Singh’s team to record a short song. He has also received an invite from Sonu Nigam’s academy.
“A few years ago, my father cried and shouted at me for leaving college. But now I see him smiling all because his favourite actor, Pooja Bhatt, shared my clip. I am so happy I was able to prove myself and my music abilities,” adds Shakeel.
With the help he has received, Shakeel has booked a seat in Mumbai Music Institute in Kandivali. His total fees is Rs 2,70,000 for a Diploma in Music Production, and he aims to continue performing so that he can pursue his dream.
If you would like to know more about Shakeel, you can reach him here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao