The Sensational Singer: Tochi Raina

IJ Anita Tejwani
Published on: 26th September 2014
Tochi Raina is a very hardworking person and loyal to his work. "Music is my life, and I think God has sent me to spread music all over the world," he says.

Born in Darbhanga, Bihar, he had his education at Nepal where his father, a government employee, was posted. His grandmother was a Sitar player, his uncle Ratan Singh was a renowned Violin player and his grandfather Akaali Kaur Singh was a saint. He later moved to Delhi where he started learning music from, and got very close to Pandit Vinod Kumar, a disciple of Indian classical singer Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. "I got my music from him as he taught me every single thing in music. I thank him for all that he has given me and made a stepping stone in my life," mentions Tochi.

He first came to Mumbai in 1993 to learn from my guru Ustad Bhure Khan, eventually returning to his hometown, Patiala. In 2003, he decided to move to Mumbai. He spent five years building relations with bigwigs, meeting legends like Dev Anand, Sunil Dutt, Pran and Mehmood. "After meeting them, I realised one must take it easy and not rush into things. I wanted to first understand the industry and then take the leap," says Tochi.
The Sensational Singer: Tochi Raina,music industry
He has been travelling a lot since his childhood. The places he has been to have taught many things and he always found something inspiring in everything. His parents and his gurus have played a prominent part in his being a renowned singer. He has studied and observed every bit of things from all the places he has visited and that's what comes out of his songs. "I have witnessed pain, anger, happiness, different cultures, different people, different languages and that's how I try and convey it to the world. When I sing all the emotions come out automatically," says Raina.

Raina never thought of being a singer. He just yearned to learn music for which he came from Patiala to Delhi and then to Mumbai, and things started falling in place.

"I came to Mumbai with a 500 rupee note, a harmonium and A DREAM," he says. He had no idea where to go, what to do or whom to meet. He has slept at Aksa Beach for months. He used to do Riyaz at the beach. "A lot of people who use to come to the beach to have fun would come and listen to my Riyaz and give me appreciation, and that's what use to give me the biggest confidence that someday, these few people will turn into the whole world listening to my music," recalls Tochi. He also adds, "I used to walk around 10 to 15 kms every day with my harmonium just to meet people in the industry. But now, when I look back, I feel those were the best days I had been through because, if not that I wouldn't have made it till here."

On talking of his remarkable works, he says, "I'm happy that I got to sing for Ayan Mukerji's second film (Tochi sang Iktara in Ayan's first film Wake Up Sid). When Pritam called me for Kabira, the promos for Badtameez Dil and Ghagra were already on air. I have to agree that the song has increased my fan following." Pritam has been his friend since 1999 when both had just come to Mumbai and were struggling. "Pritam, Amitabh Bhattacharya and me are like brothers," he adds.

He is always happy to help aspiring singers and musicians as his gurus have always taught him to spread the music education. His mom's name is Sahib and his daughter was born on the night he recorded the song for the Shor In The City soundtrack. "By the time I finished the recording I decided to name her Saibo," recalls Raina.
It is important to know that while making music, what it is that you can give to people who are into music. "I spent three days with Yanni in Agra and particularly liked the way he works. Michael Jackson, Steve Jordan, Bob Marley: I salute them. It happens in the West that musicians jam more often than not. Great musicians jam up. Here we are busy running and don't have time to spare for that. This is the job of the musicians; all talented people should come together. Here we are more individualistic. We have to open up. Only then we can talk about making world music. We have to connect with each other. It can teach you new things every day," narrates Tochi.

He has few songs coming up soon. He is working on with his band named "Band OF Bandagi" to fulfill his dream of making Indian music truly international. He dreams of making India a great name in music.

"I thank God for every bit I have received as a blessing. I, not only pray for myself but for everyone around. I believe that whenever I am behind a mic or in a dubbing room God comes and helps me with the best possible things. And I promise I will try and keep entertaining the world with my music till my Last Breath," says Raina.
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